Going back to the school days, there isn’t really a whole lot to say here. I didn’t have much interest in school. I definitely didn’t come anywhere close to fulfilling my potential in school, which drove both my teachers and mother around the bend. Something I always remember, is a teacher telling me that I was “so laidback that I’d cause the person behind me to fall over”. I took it as a compliment, although it wasn’t intended as one.
Luckily, I knew the course I wanted to do and it was a reasonable points target. I put my head down for all of about two weeks leading up to the exams. ‘Cramming’ is the only thing that works for me. I know this isn’t very inspiring, but I guess the message is that how many points you get in your Leaving Cert doesn’t determine how far you go in life.
The course I chose to pursue was Media And Public Relations in IT Carlow. It sounded like a bit of me. I went down not knowing very much about Carlow, but open minded. I settled in really quickly, and the course was really fun in first year, which was a great transition from leaving cert. It’s a very hands-on course which I loved, and quite broad. You are in TV and radio studios one minute, next you are in a Mac lab learning how to photoshop.
The best thing I developed in my time in Carlow was learning how to balance certain situations and scenarios. This is something I still try to apply to my everyday life, and is the only sort of ‘mantra’ that I go by. For most, the balance you need to strike in college is between your nightlife and getting the work done. As much as I loved the nights out (and there were many), I always dragged myself in for practical lectures, and I never once missed an assignment. However, I also witnessed many who didn’t get that balance right, and they left college without completing their degree.
I absolutely adored my time in Carlow. I made some really good friends down there, that I am still very close to. The college itself is a fantastic place to study, and the campus has really developed in recent years. I’d definitely recommend IT Carlow to anyone thinking about going there.
My course was one of very few Level 8 courses that is just three years. With how much I enjoyed my time in Carlow, I wasn’t quite ready to leave. ITC run some really good Graduate Internships, where you get to work for the college, and gain some valuable experience. I applied for one, before heading out to the States for a J1, which is something I couldn’t recommend enough. While out there, I learned that I was successful, and would be returning home to my first proper career role.
Back in familiar surroundings, I was now part of the Students’ Union team. This was a dream job in many ways. It was busy, so much fun, and quite rewarding. It was an important stage in my very early career and life after college. It was a fixed term that allowed me time to figure out my next move, which ironically didn’t happen as quickly as I would have hoped.
This is perhaps the most important bit of advice I could give to any graduate or student in final year. The period that you finish college can be a very tough one. You are so eager to launch into your career. The harsh reality for some is that you don’t always just fall into a job as soon as you get your degree. It can take some time before you make a breakthrough. I was applying for lots of roles and feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere. You have to be very patient. Sometimes a fancy looking CV won’t be enough.
So my advice? Do something pro active! This will make you stand out from the rest, I promise you that. Employers will always be impressed by voluntary work. Whatever your passion is, find a way to practice it. For me, it was blogging. Sport is my passion, so I created a sports blog (using a free website), and I went at it. I designed graphics, wrote articles and shared photos. It cost me nothing, except my time. I was always a bit conscious of what people were thinking, but I enjoyed doing it and at the very least, I was practicing my graphic design and writing skills.
Eventually, it paid off. I got a call from a recruiter who had came across the blog, and said that he had a role that he thought I would be perfect for. Little did I know at the time, it was for the famous Copper Face Jacks. We met, done the interviews, and I got the gig. Almost four years on, and I’m still in the same role.
Fast forwarding to more recent times, and there’s a similar recurring theme for me. In the year that was 2020 and Covid 19, the nightlife industry has been hit very hard and I find myself in a position where I have been cut down to three days a week. My employers have been extremely good to me in keeping me on despite the business being temporarily closed. Instead of going on the job hunt, I wanted to remain loyal and ride it out. But what to do with my increased number of days off? Again, I applied the same. How can I be pro active?
I decided to set up my own (small) online business, Patch Clothing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and this was my chance to do it. When would I ever get an opportunity like this again? I still have the cushion of being employed, but have a few extra days free. I don’t have much knowledge of running a business, but I do have the marketing, social media and graphic design skills to help get a business off the ground. The rest I will learn along the way.
- Be proactive. Don’t wait for things to happen.
- Keep a balance. I think a healthy work/life balance is important.
- Update your LinkedIn regularly. Write articles, share photos and make connections. You’d be surprised who and how many people are watching. It is a networking site after all!