Leaving Cert students, you will shortly be faced with an important decision with regard to your choice of Third Level courses. As a career coach, I see the two fundamental questions as;

  • What kind of career do you want?
  • What course will provide the pathway to your dream future?
  • I have put together my top tips that may help and guide students in making this important decision.

    1 Invest quality time and energy into the process of finding the answers to those two questions. You must create the time to think, to access that wisdom that is within yourself. First, commit to the process. The outcome will take care of itself. Start writing down your thoughts and insights as you build up your research.

    2 Be your own coach. Ask yourself the important questions: What do I want? What are my career options? What do I love doing? What do I excel at? What gets me results? What is it about a particular course that I would love?

    3 Study your role models. What three people have influenced you most and why? Our role models often reflect our beliefs and values. This may provide valuable clues into what you want and can be significant in your career decisions.

    4 Mobilise your support network. Talk to the important people in your life – your parents, your career guidance teacher, a trusted friend. This can be powerful in getting another perspective and the quality of your own thinking increases significantly when you share your thoughts with those people.

    5 Examine your career options. When you have narrowed down options, study what it is about your selected course that draws you. You are more likely to see what you truly want. Keep your mind open to new possibilities – don’t narrow down too quickly.

    6 Be agile in making your choice.

  • a Be ambitious but realistic.
  • b Have a carefully considered fall back choice.
  • c Choose a course that is broad enough to allow you multiple career options – you can always specialise later.
  • 7 Set smart goals. Once you set out your vision for what you want from your course, it is vital to be disciplined. Setting challenging but realistic goals will help turn your plans into reality.

    8 Control your emotions. Don’t let negative emotions take over. Watch your self-talk. How you talk to yourself allows you to reframe your perception of a particular situation from one of anxiety to one where you look forward to the particular challenge.

    9 Protect your health and wellbeing. Two of the most important things to get you through a stressful time are good food and sleep. A good night’s sleep (aim for eight hours) makes the world of difference to your mood and mental health as well as your focus. Spending 24/7 studying is not going to do you any favours, so make sure you are taking time to do things you enjoy. Read a book, go for a walk, or listen to music – whatever truly makes you feel good. Taking this time out for yourself will help you to feel more focused while studying, as you know some “me time” is on the horizon.

    10 Know your self -worth. Remember that your worth is not measured by some marks on a piece of paper. You can only do your best and at the end of the day, exams are not the be-all and end-all. There is so much more to you as a person than the results you get. Be kind to yourself and be proud of yourself.

    Brendan Heneghan is an agri career and interview coach – brendanheneghancoaching.com

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