The recent gradireland Graduate Careers Fair in the RDS was a great opportunity to meet potential employers and careers advisers, and to get the best possible advice and direction on how to launch your graduate career. Over 6,600 students and graduates took this opportunity, making it Ireland’s largest graduate careers event of the year.
However, if you missed out on the day itself, you can still catch up on the specialist careers seminars that took place during the fair. Many of the presentations are available for download from the fair website. Several of the seminars were also captured by gradireland TV.
There is often nothing better for getting the inside track on your desired career than hearing from some of the most significant employers or professional bodies in that sector – so we captured a whole ‘How to get hired’ series of presentations in sectors including retail, IT, marketing, finance and management consulting as well as seminars on entrepreneurialism and an overview on internships and work experience.
The first of these specialist seminars, specifically targeted at undergrads and recent graduates – How to get hired in IT, given by Tom Bentley from SAP – is now live on gradireland TV. There is also a useful overview on internships and work experience, relevant to all students and jobseekers, which not only provides advice on how to get the best from any such placement but also provides a host of useful links for further information and potential opportunities.
gradireland TV hosts over 50 specialist graduate careers videos, ranging from employer insights and graduate profiles for companies in specific sectors through to superb insights on CVs, applications, getting ‘socially networked’ and more. So if you missed the gradireland Graduate Careers Fair you don’t have to miss out on the seminars!
Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton, speaking at the gradireland Graduate Careers Fair in the RDS on 10 October, noted how there were fewer people in Ireland applying for European Union stage (the French word for traineeship) positions than in other countries.
One of the theories she put forward was that Irish people were put off by not having second languages.
‘It’s for that reason you see so many people emigrating to Australia and Canada right now,’ she said, ‘and it’s a shame because Brussels is so much closer to home than Toronto and Vancouver, or Sydney and Melbourne.’
While many EU positions do require you to be fluent in two languages, others require only satisfactory ability in a second language. And English, it is noted, is something of a lingua franca in the EU institutions and agencies, so native speakers have an advantage in that regard.
People also shouldn’t be put off because they do not have a law or politics degree. As the editor of The Green Book, Lucy Moylan, points out in her preface, ‘institutions are looking for people with a wide variety of skills. They need scientists, librarians, IT experts, journalists and plenty of others.’
The Green Book, published by the European Movement Ireland, is a guide for prospective Irish interns on how to go about getting a stage, advice on moving to and living in Brussels, and advice on how one would go about ‘moving up the ladder’. Lucinda Creighton, who was at the RDS to launch its sixth volume, herself worked for a time as a stagiaire (trainee).
EU stages/internships usually last for a period of between three and six months, and are seen as ‘rites of passage’ for people who wish to pursue a career as a public servant in Europe. Most trainees are paid around €1,000 a month (some as much as €3,000 if you include accommodation allowances). While the majority of stages are in Brussels, there are also opportunities for internships in places such as Luxembourg, Torino, Barcelona, Strasbourg or even Dublin.
The first chapter in The Green Book is entitled ‘Getting there’ and lists the various places you can apply directly to. These include European institutions such as the European Commission, the European Union External Action Service and the European Court of Justice. It also lists European agencies, such as the European Railway Agency, and non-institutional stages such as ones with The Amnesty International European Institutions Office.
There is information on the eligibility requirements for applying (including academic and language requirements) and how to complete the Europass (documents you need to complete to apply for positions). The next chapter gives advice on living in Brussels – finding accommodation, shopping, setting up a bank account, restaurants and nightlife.
There are also profiles of people who worked as stagiaires (trainees) and tips on how to turn a stage into a full-time job.
While competition for places is high, it is noted in the book that two of the five people to have held the post of chief civil servant in the European Commission have been Irish (David O’Sullivan and Catherine Day), and that Ireland will hold the Presidency of the European Union for the first six months of 2013.
Further information on how to get a copy of The Green Book is available at the European Movement Ireland website, while Eujobs.ie has useful links for people looking to apply for a position in Europe. For more advice on working abroad see gradireland.com.
If you live in Dublin, then you are in one of the greatest places in the world to start a new business. Dublin has recently been named as one of the best new global cities for start-ups, because of its top universities and business-friendly policies.
‘OK, but what about the recession?’ I hear you ask. Despite what you may think, a recession provides great opportunities for new businesses; ones that you won’t get during a period of growth.
Some of the advantages of a recession include:
- Lower costs: everything including labour, equipment, office space and so on is cheaper and more plentiful, and will allow you to get your business started more quickly, using less money.
- Available talent: as there are fewer current job opportunities, there will be more people looking for work with all the professional experience and skills that your business needs. Finding the right people is vital for successfully driving your business idea forward.
- Fresh ideas: during a time of economic decline, businesses that bring new and exciting ideas are more likely to attract positive media attention, helping to build your business more quickly. Existing companies will also be on the lookout for cheaper and more innovative products and services to revitalise their own businesses, providing you with more potential clients than usual.
- Learning more: starting a business during a recession will teach you to look after your money even more carefully. You will learn some important business lessons before the economy picks up again, which will prepare you well for the growth period.
- Opportunities to turn things around: with fewer graduate jobs, there’s even more of a reason to follow through with your business ideas. You can bring in money for yourself and work independently, without the risk of being made redundant. There are also more opportunities to turn around struggling businesses. SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) are often the driving force behind the economy, and can help to pull a country out of a recession, which is yet another incentive for starting one up.
Starting a business brings with it many risks, even during the best of times. But, if you have a great idea and are willing to take a few risks, then setting up a business during a recession could really play to your advantage.
Successful graduate start-ups
The founders of these three companies spotted opportunities in the growing technology market in Ireland, and refused to let the recession deter them from pursuing their business ideas. All three businesses have been featured as ‘startup of the day’ in The Daily Business Post.
PearUp is developing a web booking system for health and sports centres, which allows people to book and pay for courts and personal training sessions on their phones. The company was set up by three Trinity College graduates: Alex Mann, Dermot Markey and Tiernan Kennedy, just after they finished their final exams. They are currently developing their business in America.
Glass Robot Studios
Glass Robot Studios is a software development company that develops social mobile games. The company was founded by four computer science students at Dublin Institute of Technology, a few days after they completed their final university exams. They recently gained funding and office space from Telefónica’s Wayra accelerator.
Boomeround has created a tagging system for lost items, using QR code technology. The co-founders of the company are Peter Graham, a recent UCD graduate, and Mathew Nelson, a student at Queen’s University in Belfast. Recently, they secured investment and permission to distribute their products to students on some university campuses.
These successful graduate start-ups show that there is a need for new businesses in the UK and in the ROI. If you think your business idea has the potential to succeed, find out about the resources that are available to help you get your business started.
“If I could start again, I would set up more businesses during recessions… Such a climate is perfect for young, enthusiastic and nimble companies to set up and thrive. This is one of those times”— Sir Richard Branson, writing for the Telegraph.