A second chance: conversion courses and your career

conversion course blog image

At our recent postgrad fair, we were fortunate enough to have Dave Kilmartin, head of Dublin Institute of Technology’s Careers Development Centre, give an informative and engaging seminar on conversion courses. With the knowledge and advice he offered, it is easy to see why conversion courses are increasingly popular with graduates today. During an undergraduate degree, students, particularly those from non-vocational courses, may often discover new interests and consider changing their career path. A conversion course can represent a second chance to take control and redirect your future career path.

What is a postgraduate conversion course?

A conversion course is a level 8 or 9 programme designed for graduates who wish to transfer to a new discipline. They are usually between 1 and 2 years long, and fees  range from €3,000 up to €15,000. These courses are normally career focused, and link directly to the skills sought out by employers, giving students the best grounding possible to succeed in the employment challenge facing new graduates.

Is a conversion course the right decision for you?

Before making a rash decision, there are a number of key factors to consider before pursuing a conversion course. The importance of outlining your future career aspirations before applying for a conversion course was a key point made by Dave Kilmartin at the seminar. Ask yourself, how will this programme help me achieve my career goals?  If there are few obvious career benefits to completing the course, then perhaps it may not be the best decision for you. Secondly, a conversion course can be time consuming and ultimately is a long-term commitment to a new career. Therefore, before you apply, make sure you are interested and passionate about the chosen subject;  “self motivation is crucial to the success of altering your career path, and without passion your drive is likely to diminish,” he added. To the same effect, be realistic with yourself- do the demands of the course reflect your academic capability? In Dave’s own words, “don’t set yourself up for failure!” The question, “where are the jobs?” was echoed  throughout the seminar. He wants all graduates considering a conversion course to analyse their industry of interest; research where the job gaps are and determine whether a conversion course will equip you with the desired skills that will enhance your chances of employment.

Analysing the options- the different conversion courses available to you:

Conversion courses are available in almost any discipline. The most popular courses are in business, arts and IT, which generally accept graduates with a level 8 degree from any discipline. However, as these courses are popular, there may be a competitive application process. In this case, a minimum requirement of a first class honours or 2:1 qualification in your primary degree is often necessary. Make sure you fit the relevant requirements before applying for a course.

Conversion courses in education, health/medicine or engineering typically have stricter course requirements. A career in post-primary teaching is a popular choice with students looking to convert. In this case, the new two-year Prof. Masters in Education (PME), which has replaced the one-year Hdip, is the course to consider. However, there are a number of restrictions to note; your primary degree must be recognised by the Teaching Council for the purposes of registration as a secondary school teacher. The list of degrees acceptable is listed on the http://www.teachingcouncil.ie/. Similarly, converting into engineering often requires an educational background in either science or health and a career move into the health and therapies sector generally requires a background in science or social science.

Graduate entry into medicine remains as popular as ever and therefore comes with a rigorous application process. After graduating with a 2:1 qualification in your primary degree, preferably science related, you must take the GAMSAT (Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test). If you successfully receive a relatively high score in the exam, your application will be considered for approval.

If you do not meet the specific course requirements, DON’T GIVE UP! Dave Kilmartin stressed this point and argued that where there is a will there is a way. There are always online courses that can demonstrate your passion for a new career.

What are the benefits of a conversion course?

There are many benefits to pursuing a conversion course. Having the option to alter your original career path undoubtedly relieves a certain amount of pressure felt by final year students and new graduates. They allow you to think beyond previous educational restrictions, such as CAO points, and open the door to a new career path that you really want. The course itself will equip you with the relevant skills desired by employers, while providing you with future employment prospects that may have previously seemed unattainable.

What do employers think of conversion courses?

Conversion courses are highly-valued by employers, because they can often favour candidates with a broad educational background. These courses can give you the opportunity to demonstrate transferable skills, commitment, passion and self-motivation, which are all core personal qualities and skills that are often highly-regarded by recruiters. In his presentation, Dave Kilmartin underlined that a change in career direction can ultimately represent personal strength, and can distinguish you from other graduates when applying for a job.

For further information on conversion courses go to http://postgradireland.com/advice-and-funding/conversion-courses


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