Choices galore


In the wake of Careers Week 2009, Anna Byrne reviews some of the events held in UCD

What do you want to be when you grow up? This age-old question has been put to us all at some point; to some of us at the very early stage of their first day at school, to others during Transition Year, and to some last week, during Careers Week in UCD.

SB Careers Fair 8Many of us know what we want to be from day one but for the rest, it can be a long and sometimes gruelling process – reading through prospectuses, scanning appointment pages or just looking around you for some sort of guidance. If you fit into the second category then fear not: throughout the year the periodic Careers Fairs will look after you. This year’s events kicked off with Careers Week, which took place last week on campus.

The start of October saw a range of professionals from chartered accountants to zoologists enter the corridors of UCD giving inspirational speeches, intriguing presentations and welcome advice to all who cared to listen. Many of the professions were aimed at specific groups, but that was not to say that a law student, for example, was unwelcome to attend a seminar given by a nurse – quite the opposite in fact; talks were open to students from all walks of university life, and attendance for most seminars was great. A representative from Millward Brown, one of the world’s leading authorities on advertising, marketing communications and brand equity research, who had been here on numerous occasions insisted he had never seen such a turnout.

As many as 60 people could sit in on talks and seminars during the week; some were moved to bigger venues holding 200-300 people due to popular demand. One such example was the presentation given by multimillionaire telecoms entrepreneur, Denis O’Brien, who spoke about successful career development in a recession. The interest was unsurprising, given how many final year students are anxious about the lack of job positions available at the moment and for the immediate future.

It is undoubtedly a worrying time for many graduates: most don’t have the funds they might have had a few years ago, thereby losing the freedom to travel that has been such a feature of graduate life in Ireland. Many are, as a result, under pressure to find a job – and to find it quickly. But thanks to Denis O’Brien, countless students were reassured that the world will not end if they can’t find position immediately after they earn their degree, or if they miss out on that internship. O’Brien’s advice was to sieze any time off as an opportunity; to be constructive or creative, or to do that something one might always wanted to do, but never had the time.

Elsewhere, System Brand Manager for Procter & Gamble, Fiachra Moloney, shared his Monday to Friday with students, talking about the “endless” possibilities there are in a job such as his, and how every single day brings a new and different challenge. He encouraged all present not to underestimate themselves, and when asked what was the worst day of his career, his succinct and optimistic reply was “I’ve never had one”.

A UCD graduate known to many, Dave Fanning, paid a visit to his alma mater to talk about successful careers in media – a field Fanning would, one might surmise, be well placed to advise on. This, accordingly to Fanning himself though, was not the case; the DJ gave an entirely unrehearsed, off-the-cuff speech for over an hour, recounting the various circumstances that led to his presenting a series of major nationwide radio shows.

Fanning simply believed himself to have been in the right place at the right time; but as he talked about his career, one did notice that there was a simple explanation for him always finding himself in the right place: his passionate interest in his work. Fanning ultimately came across as the perfect example of what one with a successful career should be; totally engulfed in what they work for, loving every minute, and never looking back.

Feedback from students over the content of the week seemed positive, an encouraging sign, as UCD desperately needs to ensure its graduates are ready for the outside world. Careers Week organiser David Casey was pleased with how the week went, but expressed concern at the reported drop in lecture attendance during seminar times.