Teaching abroad: Broaden your horizons and use travel to inspire your career

Caimin Browne writes about the benefits of thinking outside the box when it comes to your teaching career, and why teaching overseas on a Meddeas teaching programme can be such a rewarding and enriching experience.


Why did you take the step of coming to Spain with Meddeas?

I was finishing my degree (Saint Patrick’s College-DCU) in Ireland and I had limited options here. I wanted to do teaching in Ireland, but I couldn’t get onto the the course I wanted to do. A friend reminded me of an email I received to teach English in Spain, related to TEFL. Although I didn’t speak Spanish I thought it would be worth applying for. I’m very glad I did.

If you had to choose one specific memory of your Spanish experience, which one would it be and why?

THE HEAT. I have never experienced such heat and it being considered normal. I was wearing shorts up to December and playing a rugby match on the first weekend of March, and it was 25, 26 degrees Celsius. Coming from Ireland, where the weather is always in the public domain, I couldn’t believe how normal temperatures in the mid-20’s were in October, and people wearing jumpers and jackets. Madness!

What relationships and/or friendships do you keep from your stay in Spain?

I still stay in touch with staff from the school and the rugby team I played with, on an ongoing basis by Facebook or WhatsApp.

In what sense has your worldview changed after your experience teaching in Spain?

The role I have to play in life. I left Ireland to teach English in Spain. I was no longer a student, I was seen as a grown up, an adult with responsibility, whose main objective was to teach as a language assistant in a school and instruct, kids are going to use what you teach them to broaden their own horizons and develop their own lives. Spain for me was the first time that I was doing something I always wanted to do.


Did you improve your level of Spanish? Has this skill helped you in your professional career? Do you use Spanish in your everyday life now?

It most certainly has. Before I left to teach English in Spain, I had a very basic level of Spanish, but I looked on this as an opportunity, where any progress was a bonus. The Spanish in Andalucia is distinctly different to Spanish spoken elsewhere in the country, so in some ways not having a firm footing in the language and being able to learn from scratch was a bonus. At the moment, I’m studying to be an Irish and French Language teacher, but also having Spanish is a huge bonus both professionally and personally.

How has this experience improved your CV and professional life?

It’s made a huge difference. I learned a new language, gained exposure to a new culture and got invaluable teaching experience. Furthermore, having work experience abroad has shown that I am able to adapt to work outside of Ireland. I am currently studying a Masters to be a school teacher here in Ireland and am hoping to work teaching French and Irish at second level.

What advice would you give to someone joining Meddeas in order to make the most of this experience?

I would advise anyone to do this. Spain offers so much; beautiful food, compassionate and kind people, fantastic weather and so much culture and travel. The year I completed will go down as one of the best of my life and there is not much I would have changed about it. It’s great to get exposed to a totally different way of life and culture. I would say to anyone, don’t just dream about travel, live it and use it to enhance and inspire your career and other life choices.

Five steps to make your LinkedIn profile shine

Having your CV and LinkedIn profile matching up, and displaying your skills and experience in the best possible fashion, is one sure way of standing out to recruiters. HR teams use the social media platform on a daily basis, so make sure your profile  is an all-star, helping you stand out from the crowd. These five steps can help you on your way.


1: What employers do you want to see your profile?

If you’re looking for a job in engineering, for example, you’ll need to research other profiles in the engineering field. Have a look at some successful people working in the area that you want to get into, see how they’ve highlighted their skills, knowledge and experience. You may not have the experience they have yet obviously, but you can work in key phrases, keywords and terms that the industry use, which will help your profile show up on search results. It is vital that you tailor your LinkedIn profile for the industry in which you want to work, the same way you need to tailor your CV for a particular job you’re applying for.

2: Write accurately and professionally

The same way a poorly written CV or cover letter ends up in the discard pile; a recruiter is not going to dwell on a poorly written LinkedIn page. They will be checking to see that your profile makes sense, that it uses proper grammar and punctuation (no emoticons or text speak!!).Make sure there are no unexplainable gaps in your work history or education. Again, research what others have in their profiles; make sure you include some keywords or phrases similar to those used in the job description you are applying for. Also, get a pair of fresh eyes to review it. It’s very hard to spot your own mistakes all the time, so get a trusted friend or family member (with a good eye for grammar) to check it over for you. In addition to grammar, focus on detail in terms of what you can offer. Again, taking engineering as an example, focus on technical capabilities, software knowledge, courses, certifications or other industry-relevant experience.

3: Get recommendations

Recruiters place value in well written recommendations below your profile as opposed to easily-clickable endorsements. If you don’t have enough employment experience for a reference or recommendation, perhaps your manager or senior colleague from an internship of work placement can help. If it can be from someone in your industry of choice even better! Also, be visual, if you have video clips or pdfs of projects that you’ve worked on; share them on your profile.

4: Connect and be professionally social

While the CEO of a major international firm is unlikely to connect with you straight away, other professionals in your chosen sector likely will, as will college alumni and department heads relevant to the sector in which you want to work. It’s best not to solicit connections randomly or anonymously, you’ll likely meet potential connections at careers fairs or other events so its better you introduce yourself before you try to connect. Also, there is an etiquette here, don’t try and connect with someone who you may be going for an interview with or who you have just had an interview with, it’s too over-familiar and could affect your application.

5: Use a professional photo

Sounds simple doesn’t it? But you would be surprised. You know that photo of you balancing the three beer cans on your head on the beach in Thailand? Don’t use that one! You don’t have to be in a business suit, but a full three quarter length photo in smart clothes shows you’re work-ready and aware of appearing professional.


For more information from gradireland on getting work ready, visit our careers advice section.

Meet an Assistant Trader Intern with SIG

Caitríona Lonergan is a third year Actuarial and Financial Studies student in UCD who spent her summer participating in the 10-week Assistant Trader Internship with Susquehanna International Group (SIG). We caught up with Caitríona to find out what working in SIG is really like.

How did you find out about SIG?

SIG sponsors the Actuarial Society in UCD, which I am a member of, so I knew the name but I initially didn’t know much about SIG’s business. I then attended a SIG careers talk on campus that explained the company a bit more and outlined the different career options available to me.

What makes SIG different than other organisations?

I think the main difference between SIG and other companies is the focus placed on education. We spent a lot of time in the classroom at the beginning of our internship, learning about trading from the ground up. There was no assumed level of knowledge about trading, which was good as we didn’t exactly study it in college! I also love how much emphasis is placed on applying poker strategies to trading; when I first started, I hadn’t played poker very much but now I can play quite well, and have learned a whole new way of thinking!


Caitriona Lonergan

What do you like best about working in SIG?

I really enjoy the atmosphere and the sense of community in SIG. We are always working together and sharing ideas; it really helps to have such a varied mix of intelligent colleagues around you to bounce ideas off of. I like that there is always something to do. I’m never bored and I enjoy the work, which makes the day seem shorter. I also love the variety of people who are working at SIG; people travel from all over Europe to work here, so it’s clear that SIG is highly regarded across a number of countries.

There is a lot of talk about teamwork and collaboration at SIG. Where do you see this demonstrated in your current role?

Our projects have been carried out in pairs, so I have been working closely with another one of the interns for the whole summer. I have also met with traders and the head of the index arbitrage desk, all of whom have helped with any questions I have had. The atmosphere is very supportive; whenever anyone has a problem, there can be up to four people willing to help out!


Caitriona enjoying the SIG Summer PArty with some of her fellow interns

What inspired you to choose this career path?

Trading is a more exciting, dynamic career path than some of the alternatives in the financial area. The work I am doing is challenging, but I enjoy the sense of risk and reward. We also get to see the impact of our work in real-time. Even when things don’t go exactly to plan, we learn so much from the outcomes, and this helps us to further hone our strategies.

If you were speaking with someone who was considering the Assistant Trader Internship with SIG, what would you tell them?

Definitely do it! SIG is a unique, dynamic place to work where you will never be bored. The education programme not only sets you up to work in trading but everyone in SIG also supports you in developing your skills.

What is your favourite thing about living in the Dublin area?

There is always something to do in Dublin, whether it is a concert, a festival, or a new restaurant/bar to try.

Finally, if you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

I would love to be able to time travel. It is almost like having lots of superpowers at once when you consider how much you could alter and change.

Both SIG’s Assistant Trader Internship and Assistant Trader Graduate Programme are currently open for applications via the SIG website. SIG also caters for work placements ranging from 3-12 months in duration.

Guest blog: My career in finance with Crowe Horwath

Trainee chartered accountant Jamie Ashworth gives us insight into his choice to pursue a career in finance with Crowe Horwath


Trainee chartered accountant Jamie Ashworth

Could you provide us with a summary of how you became interested in a career in the financial sector?

The financial sector represents the heartbeat of business and commerce worldwide. I have always had an aptitude for numbers and accountancy in particular so the financial sector has been a natural area of interest for me. Finance in Dublin in particular is thriving at the moment and makes it even more appealing to me.

Accountancy services are required by business of all sizes, from sole traders to listed multinational companies, and this diversity was a key factor in my choosing to pursue a career in accountancy.

How did your degree contribute to you getting a place on the Crowe Horwath programme?

I feel my degree contributed hugely to me getting a place on the Crowe Horwath graduate programme. Although I did not study accounting directly, a background in economics provided me with problem solving skills applicable across the financial sector. In my opinion this was particularly important for the Crowe Horwath graduate programme as it involves working on different projects all the time, with no two days being the same

What’s been one of the biggest challenges of coming through the Crowe Horwath graduate programme and what did it teach you about yourself?

One of the biggest challenges for me was adapting to the professional environment. After an initial training week, I started in the office and I was immediately immersed into projects and assigned projects. Of course attached to these projects were deadlines. While I found this daunting at first, I soon learned that asking questions and gaining experience is what was expected of me and this enabled me to work faster and more efficiently on subsequent jobs and tasks. Each job has a learning curve and I have been given the opportunity to work on many different assignments in the last year which has increased my knowledge immensely. Next year I hope to gain more experience and take a more senior role on assignments.

How difficult was it striking the balance between work and CAI studies?

For me, the switch from college life to working full time and studying with Chartered Accountants Ireland was challenging at first. A day in work from nine to half five followed by a lecture in the evening does require commitment but once you get in to a routine it is not as daunting as it first seems and it is worth the sacrifice. I found going to lectures and taking the information in first hand from the lecturers benefitted me when it came to studying for the exams. All materials for lectures are available through the online portal in advance of the lectures and this does allow for a degree of flexibility in studying.

What advice would you have for students and graduates seeking to pursue a similar career path?

  • To give your full commitment to both work and studying from the beginning and to try and find a routine that suits you while doing that.
  • To enjoy the free time that you do have and to make the most of well earned down time.
  • Not to be afraid to ask questions and to make the most of the experience that senior colleagues share with you.

How do you hope to see your career developing over the next few years?

I am one year into my training contract and I have passed my CAP1 exams. I hope to pass the CAP 2 and FAE exams over the next two years, while gaining more experience and finish my training contract in April 2019. After that I might travel and work abroad for a year or two. Being a chartered accountant is a qualification that is recognised globally and offers people the opportunity to apply their skills worldwide.

Crowe Horwath is one of the leading accountancy firms in Ireland, and is the representative firm in Ireland of Crowe Horwath International, one of the top ten global networks of independent accounting and advisory services firms, a worldwide group of independent accountancy firms with 726 offices in 125 countries with some 31,000 staff worldwide. They offer graduates the opportunity to train to become a Chartered Accountant.

Check out their recruitment brochure (pdf) for more details.

Applications for 2017 are now open. To apply, please fill in their application form and return to hr@crowehorwath.ie. The closing date for applications is 31 October 2016.

Guest blog: My graduate career with Lidl

Lidl’s approach to the training and development of graduates is training from the ground up and it is this approach which has led to my successful career in Lidl. At the beginning my programme I received a detailed training plan which outlined what the next 18 months were going to look like for me. Graduates start as store assistants and progress through every level in store up to Store Manager and Area Manager so you fully understand the company’s business model before you begin your Head Office role. To support each stage of my learning, I had detailed checklists which outlined what skills I need to learn at each level and this clarity ensured that I met the expectations of a graduate.


Ciara Danaher

As a graduate, you are never sitting still for too long and over the 18 months you work in up to 12 different positions throughout the business. This role diversity allowed me to see where my strengths lay and also put opportunities for roles in front of me that I hadn’t previously considered. For me, I found my strengths in Learning and Development (L&D) and on the back of the work I completed in this area I was offered a position as Junior Project Manager in the L&D team. Within two weeks of being in the role I was given the opportunity to launch Lidl’s biggest ever training initiative, the Store Management Development Initiative (SMDI), to over 700 people from across the business at a two day launch event in the Convention Centre. It was a project which I had worked on while on the graduate programme and despite only being fresh off the programme, I was still trusted with the responsibility to deliver such an important message.

After only 18 months into my Junior Project Manager role, I am now moving on to a more senior role of Training and Development Manager. The exposure and experience which I gained on the Graduate Programme has definitely lead to this promotion coming so soon in my career. Having spent time in store I fully understand how our operations work while working on large scale projects like SMDI has developed my project management and communication skills. There are very few graduates programme who succeed in having their graduates as well rounded and experienced in such a short time as Lidl do and for anyone who is looking to drive their career forward, Lidl is the place to do it!

Meet the Lidl team today at our Graduate Careers Fair!

Guest blog: A career in the travel retail industry



Roisin Greaney

My name is Róisín. I am a Graduate Process Improvement Executive at ARI (Aer Rianta International), part of the daa group. I studied Global Business and Spanish at DCU. As part of the course I spent two years studying and working in Spain and carried out two internships during the four years. I am passionate about working in a global, dynamic and innovative environment so I knew ARI would be the right match for me.


ARI is a subsidiary of the daa. Over the years ARI has grown from strength to strength and is currently one of the most significant players in the travel retail industry. ARI operates and manages duty free and duty paid retail stores in 14 locations around the world from Canada to India all the way to New Zealand. ARI is best known in Ireland for The Loop in Dublin and Cork airports.

Innovation lies at the heart of ARI and staying ahead of the trend is priority. ARI has won a number of prestigious awards including Retailer of the Year and Best Speciality Concept for Candy Cloud and the Irish Whiskey Collection.

As a graduate, this is a very exciting time to work with ARI as it expands its global footprint opening new retail stores in Abu Dhabi, Indonesia and Muscat over the next two years.

Travel retail is a great area for newly qualified graduates, it’s fast paced, competitive, global and innovative. No two days in the airport or the retail industry are the same and the travel retail industry is certainly no different!


My role as a Graduate Process Improvement Executive at ARI involves working on all aspects of a strategic business transformation programme which aims to achieve best in class retailing and a common approach across our many different locations and cultures.

From day one at ARI I have had the opportunity to get to work on an array of exciting global projects that will benefit the entire company. For example, this year I have been working on creating, implementing and rolling out globally, an internal interactive video hosting platform where ARI employees from across the globe can watch, learn and interact with training content on-the-go to enhance their product knowledge. Projects and innovative initiatives like this allow ARI to ‘create an outstanding shopping experience every time’.


Many ARI graduates have had the opportunity to travel to, and work across ARI’s global locations such as Canada, Bahrain and New Zealand. I myself have had the wonderful opportunity this May to travel to our stores in Cyprus. It’s great to get a sense of how our operations work overseas and even better to meet the great people who are running them. Gaining an insight into Cypriot culture was certainly a bonus too!


ARI is not the only subsidiary of the daa with a global reach. daai (daa International) currently manages and operates Terminal 5 of King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This year, two current daa graduates have taken the opportunity to relocate to Riyadh and join the daai team.
The daa hires graduates across all areas and functions of the airport such as operations, strategy, finance, human resources, marketing, security and asset management.  If you like the sound of a career at daa or ARI please apply online at www.daa.ie/careers and submit your CV by Monday 24th October 2016.

Guest blog: My graduate experience with PwC

Following my penultimate year on Erasmus, I decided to undertake an internship in order to help to choose my future career path. From the first contact I had with PwC (heading into a phone interview from Belgium I didn’t know what to expect) the genuine friendliness and approachability of the people is what has always and continues to stand out. For me, the quality of people, from both a work and human perspective, is the defining characteristic of PwC. After gaining first-hand experience of this it was obvious that I would be returning to PwC as a graduate.

Following the internship I decided to undertake the Masters of Accounting in Smurfit Business School. Sponsored by PwC, this afforded me the opportunity to complete a masters with friends from college as well as a network of new friends and colleagues from the summer internship. It also provided me with exemptions from the CAP2 (A.C.A) and Part 1 (A.I.T.I) exams which, subject to impending results and a final set of tax exams, should allow me to qualify as both a chartered accountant and chartered tax advisor within 3 years of commencing work.

Coming back as a graduate in September 2014, I re-joined the Banking and Capital Markets (“BCM”) team, a unit within the Financial Services channel in Tax. Seeing familiar faces on the floor and around the office helped make the transition seamless. As with all jobs there a learning process, however at PwC this doesn’t stop. As an assistant during the first year you prepare work with the support of your coach, appraiser, buddy and quite frankly anyone on the team who you’re willing to ask a question. As the year progresses you are afforded autonomy and responsibility, reporting directly to Managers, Senior Managers and even Partners where appropriate. Once the new year comes around new co-ops will arrive, followed by interns during the summer and before you know it a new intake start in September.


Ronan Yeates, Tax Specialist with PwC

During my second year I have become increasingly engaged in the aircraft leasing industry. Although challenging, it is fascinating to work and be engaged with some of the most influential people in such a dynamic and unique industry, the global centre of which is located right here in Ireland. Providing day to day advice to the largest aircraft lessors in the world, I have been afforded a unique opportunity to gain international tax experience. The experience I have gained from being exposed the scale, frequency and urgency of transactions exhibited by the industry is invaluable.

As well as providing domestic and international tax support for the aircraft leasing industry, my team is extensively engaged in the securitisation industry. I have gained incredible experience working in an industry of such large scale which is also primed to go through a period of significant change following the recent publication of draft legislation by the Minister for Finance. The opportunity to be involved in the transitional period emanating from these new changes is both challenging and exciting.

Despite the demands of work, when you join the firm it is clear that your primary focus is on successfully completing your professional exams, be they tax, accounting or otherwise. Initially it can be stressful trying to balance both work and study; however, the support that is on offer within PwC will soon enable you to strike the right balance. I genuinely believe PwC’s support network, consisting of both formal and informal structures, is unrivalled, and factors such as the combination of in-house exam support workshops, in-house training, extensive study leave and colleagues who are readily available to lend a hand, make exams that bit more manageable and ultimately, make PwC a great place to work.

Meet PwC at the Graduate Careers Fair www.graduatecareersfair.com to learn more.