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This is a companion piece to my Article, "Student! Help's Here".




Autumn / Winter 2019




Iseult Catherine O'Brien


Montessori Teacher & Supervisor | Volunteer Tutor with Second Level Students |  

Thesis Specialist Online








It's Never too Early to Think Ahead






As you investigate your new environs, finding out where you have to be and when, who are your tutors, classmates and housemates if you have found someplace to live, there are other things to think about in the back of your mind.




Transitioning from college to the first proper job can be a challenge.  The following is based on a piece by recruitment expert, Mike McDonagh, with considerable additions from me.



Questions that until recently seemed immaterial now need to be answered.  What job should I be thinking (only thinking as yet) going for?  Should I apply for every job going when I qualify or for any job during the long holidays?  Should I accept the first offer even if it is not what I really want?  


There are some steps you can take - even before you take your final exams - to greatly enhance your chances of success.



Before Graduation

Will participating in college activities enhance future chances of success?


Yes, if you are able to match them to the requirements of the job you’re going for.  So, being in the GAA team might not be immediately applicable to life as a Software Developer, but maybe it improves your communication skills to a wider group of people, giving you more confidence and dealing with people you wouldn’t normally deal with.



Get experience in the profession you want to go into.  Do you know anyone who works in your chosen profession?  If so, perhaps ask about the possibility of getting work experience during the long holidays or over weekends?  Instead of going off and enjoying yourself  on a J1, you could sacrifice some of this time to get some practical work experience.


This experience will help you decide if the course you are following is really right for you and if you actually enjoy and are good at the work involved.


It is frequently the case that students are not aware of some of the elements of their prospective studies and find when they get started that they are not able for some of the syllabus or parts of it take a disproportionate amount of time to fulfil.  Whatever the case, you should be investigating to which other course you might transfer.  Talk to your Careers' Guidence personnel as soon as you know you won't be able to perform as well as you'd like on your current course.


There's nothing to be embarrassed about.  Your college / university wants you to be happy and succeed to the top of your bent as much as you do.  They'll want to help you find your niche.




The ideal would be to combine the two – overseas practical work experience (in the field you want to work in) is great.  Employers also do value life experience, so travelling definitely isn’t off the agenda, but try and make it meaningful.


Other activities such as writing for your college newspaper ~ doing the cinema, football, or music reviews:  being a member of the debating team, and other such societies could certainly enhance your future chances of success, if they relate to the industry you are interested in. 

In any case, practising speaking clearly and cogently and being able to respond on the bounce to an unexpected question will always be of benefit no matter what future you plan for yourself.


If you are not sporty or have mobilities issues which make playing sports in your college / university, you shouldn't exclude yourself from getting involved in the sporting life of your college.  You might wish to take on the membership secretary position for one of the sports' clubs, or if maths is one of your strengths, you might wish to run the club's finances, including the end of year Financial Report.  In these, or other positions, you would be at the centre of the club enjoying the company, plus learning useful management and personal interaction skills.



After Graduation

Should you pursue post-graduate qualifications immediately upon graduation?


If it helps you get into your chosen profession and is a requirement for that job, then yes, of course.  However, this may not be practical for you, financially or otherwise.


Work on your CV from early in your third level career – try and pack it with clearly defined achievements and skills that relate to your chosen profession.  See my Article “A Student’s CV”.


Work on your interview skills.  There will be interviews to join various societies, have a go at as many as you can.  See my Article “Interview, Yikes!!!”.