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.

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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.

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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.


4 things you didn’t know about this year’s Graduate Careers Fair

It’s less than two weeks away from the most anticipated event in the gradireland events calendar, the 14th annual Graduate Careers Fair. This event will see 120 of Ireland’s leading graduate employers, start-up companies and further study providers showcasing what they have to offer in a range of different sectors. Ahead of this event we have put together a list of four things that you probably didn’t know about Ireland’s Official Graduate Careers Fair.

Top employers will be there-it’s all about jobs!

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We have over 100 of Ireland’s leading employers attending this year’s Graduate Careers Fair. The exhibitor list to date is made up of 58 of the Irish Times Top 1000 companies as well as 15 international Fortune 500 companies! The best part, all of these organisations are actively recruiting for students and graduates in a range of sectors, there are interviews happening on the day itself, so come prepared!

CV Advice to beat all other

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Have you hit the wall when it comes to getting your CV or application ready to send to employers? Worry not! The Graduate Careers Fair has not only a dedicated CV Clinic with over 50 hours of free careers advice but also a rolling CV Seminar with specialised advice for both international and Irish students. This is the perfect opportunity to perfect your CV and get ahead of the competition.

Opportunities with NGOs

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Ever considered working as part of a non-for-profit organisation? We are excited to announce that this year’s Graduate Careers Fair will welcome some nationally and internationally established NGOs, including Oxfam Ireland and The Peter McVerry Trust . Chat to representatives about any opportunities available with these organisations.

Introducing Start-Up City

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Not sure if you want to go down the traditional career route or apply for a graduate programme? This year’s gradireland Graduate Careers Fair will host our very first Start-Up Zone, which will see some of Ireland’s emerging tech talent exhibiting. Pop over to Start-Up City at the Graduate Careers Fair and find out what it’s like to be part of a high growth, fast paced start up team! Exhibitors include Gamex, Huggnote, Aromatrix and many more.

So there you have it! Four things that you might not have known about the Graduate Careers Fair, all the more reason to register now and we’ll see you in the RDS on October 5th.

Register for free entry at www.graduatecareersfair.com

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

 


Guest blog: Irish Feet Touchdown in España

Ever wonder what it is like to teach in a foreign country? Check out this blog by Sarah G. about life as a teacher in Spain with Meddeas.

A small fish in a big pond is how I’d describe the initial shock I felt in January of this year when I came to teach in Spain as a language assistant.

On mid week Wednesday mornings, when it’s almost 8:45am, before you finally get the courage to get out of bed, it’s arriving at school and one of the children from my one year old class coming up to me saying “Hello Sara” -instead of the usual “Hola”-, that makes teaching worthwhile; or when a three year old boy comes up to me and says “¿Cómo se dice ‘te quiero’ en inglés?” and then proceeds to spend the day telling every man woman and child “I love you”.

Those are the moments that make me want to do this forever and those are the moments that make me already apprehensive about leaving! The same three-year-old also melted my heart with love for him on February 14th of this year, Día de San Valentín, when he came up to me with a ring and said “Quieres ser mi novia?” (Do you want to be my girlfriend?).

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This experience abroad to date has been incredible and I regret nothing: I am learning more Spanish working with kids and living with a Spanish family than I ever would in University. Why? Well it’s difficult to explain. I’m completely immersed: my family speak English quite well but apart from the conversations I have with Javier (eight year old host brother), I tend to speak Spanish for the majority of the time I spend in the family home. Every day I’m learning new words and phrases. Every day there is something different to eat, something with a new difficult-to-pronounce name: “Gazpacho”“Albondigas” (meatballs),  “Pulpo a la gallega” to name but a few. With every new dish that’s placed before me is a new word to learn, so by eating (a favourite pass time of mine), I’m learning too!

Initially, coming to teach in Spain I knew I was going to find out so much about the culture and the food and the language, which was one of the reasons why I felt theMeddeas programme of staying with a family was ideal: you have no choice but to immerse yourself in everything that is España. I knew that the life of the people in Jerez would be different to that of what I had been used to in Spain. I don’t think it’s possible to live in Jerez without being constantly reminded of “caballos”“tinto”and, of course, bull fighting!

The initial feeling I received in school was fame. You would think children, from one to five years old, that a pale-skinned ginger-haired girl from Ireland would scare them, that they’d take awhile to get used to you. This is not the case, the more you stand out the more they like you. Clearly, I can never be mistaken for Spanish. Constantly, I have kids hanging out of me “¿Me toca? ¿Puedo ir contigo? Señora Sara, Señora Sara, Señora Sara” (Is it my turn? Can I come with you? Miss Sarah, Miss Sarah, Miss Sarah) , most days I love it! (Note: Most days). Within my first week, I had marriage proposals and invitations to birthday parties. I was both humbled and overwhelmed by the welcoming I received from the children in my school.

But the experience is not all that rosy rosy rosy: teaching children who have limited English at such a young age is difficult. I wanted nothing more than to be swallowed alive half way through my first class with the 3 year-olds. I constantly have to remind myself to breathe. My three and four year-olds are the most difficult to teach as their attention spans are short and their need for movement is quite substantial. Surprisingly, facial expressions, tone of voice and lots and lots of pictures can keep the one year-olds entertained for the duration of the class quite easily. Side note: Do not say/do anything you don’t want the children to repeat. If you say “Touch your head” and, while you are waiting for the children to do it themselves, you get an itchy nose so you scratch it, your nose will forever be your head in their eyes!

Both Meddeas and the teachers in my school have been amazing. I really have got two families here in Jerez: one with my host family and the other in my school. I’m growing so much as an individual. I love the independence that Jerez has offered; it’s been an incredible experience so far. I can’t comprehend the fact that I arrived to teach in Spain almost two months ago.If someone could please slow down time that would be “estupendo”, I really don’t want to leave!

Meddeas are currently recruiting for teachers in Spain, find out more here.


5 Reasons you should attend the Graduate Careers Fair

Ireland’s Official Graduate Careers Fair is taking place on Wednesday 5th October 2016 in the RDS Simmonscourt. This event is your opportunity to meet leading employers, course providers, careers advisors and find out all the opportunities available to you!

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Still not convinced? We have put together five reasons why you should attend Ireland’s largest graduate careers event!

It’s Ireland’s Official and Best* Graduate Careers Fair

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Whether you are job hunting, want to find out more about further study or simply career curious about all the opportunities available to you, the Graduate Careers Fair has everything you need. Also did we mention that the Graduate Careers Fair *won best exhibition in the national Event Industry Awards 2016?

Face to face interaction with leading employers

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This is your chance to make a great first impression with over 120 of Ireland’s top employers, who are all actively recruiting students, graduates and young professionals in a whole range of disciplines. Make a list of the exhibitors you would like to speak to, bring along your CV and get networking; this is your time to shine!

A killer seminar schedule

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This year we have really outdone ourselves when it comes to our seminar schedule. Whether it’s advice about writing the perfect CV or cover letter, employability skills or top interview tips and hints, we have something for you! Check out the full list of seminars on our website.

CV Clinic

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So you have had a list of employers that you may be interested in applying to put together. Now you have to create the perfect CV and cover letter to show off all your experience and skills. The Graduate Careers Fair will host a CV clinic, providing more than 50 hours of expert advice from career professionals – but make sure to get there early to secure your spot as the CV clinic fills up really quickly!

Your one stop shop for job hunting and advice

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In final year? Be smart with your time- meet all the key people, find invaluable information and discover all the different opportunities available to you all in one day under one roof! Best of all – it’s completely free to attend by registering at graduatecareersfair.com

See you there 🙂


Your next steps after the gradireland Summer Fair

Last week saw thousands of students and recent graduates flock to the gradireland Summer Fair in the RDS to meet with graduate employers, further study providers and start-ups. It was a great event with lots of advice on hand, both for those who know exactly where they want to go and for those who need a little bit of direction!

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Of course the burning question for everyone who attended the fair is what do you do next, particularly for those of you in job hunting mode? You took the first step at the fair by meeting different employers and (hopefully!) impressing them with your skills and enthusiasm. It can be difficult to figure out how, and when, to follow up with these contacts but that’s where we come in! Follow our tips below and you’ll be on your way to your ideal graduate job in no time.

Shortlist employers

The likelihood is that you spoke with a myriad of different organisations at the Summer Fair, but some organisations and opportunities will appeal to you more than others. As always, it’s important that you consider what fits best with the career path you’d like to pursue. This will help you to focus on which organisations you definitely want to follow up with and which just had the really great free stuff!

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Once you have reviewed the organisations you talked to at the event and selected those you want to follow up with, write down the details and at least one follow up action for each employer. This could be writing a short introductory email and sending along your CV, or it could be that you need to research the organisation more before you make any speculative contact.

Contacting employers

The good news is that employers are used to being ‘followed up’ by students and graduates after events such as the Summer Fair – in fact, in most cases, they actually expect it. The important thing here is to follow up in an appropriate manner and to stand out from the other messages they will be receiving. The fair was last week so it’s about now that you should be getting in touch, if you haven’t already.

If you have a personal contact (e.g. sarah@perfectemployer.com rather than hr@facelessfactory.com), use it. It’s important to remember though that this person is likely to receive many emails from people just like you, in addition to their day-to-day emails! Be polite, be friendly, but keep it business-like. Imagine how many people he/she talked to that day, so your email will probably serve as a second introduction to yourself. Don’t presume the employer remembers any specifics about what was discussed, and use this opportunity to suggest, briefly, why their organisation is where you want to work.

An introduction like this is fine; “Thanks for taking the time to talk at the gradireland Summer Fair in the RDS last week, it was really interesting and made me realise that I’m really interested in a career with (name of employer). As I mentioned on the day, my degree focused on elements which I believe would make me suited for this role, such as….”

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As with any job though, make sure you tailor your email for each employer. Don’t spam every email address you got with the same letter, it’s a recipe for disaster! It doesn’t matter if you’ve already given the employer your CV at the fair, send it on again, highlighting where and why you believe it makes you a good candidate for an available position.

End your correspondence with a suggestion of future contact, such as; “If it suits, I’ll give you a call next week to discuss?” Remember, be eager, but if you don’t hear back, wait, try to contain your frustration and remember that if you have a good CV for the role, have done your research properly and there is a role available, the recruiter will be likely be in touch, whether you are ultimately successful or not.

Using social media

Social media affords an easy way of building a professional relationship with employers. But be careful, on two fronts. Firstly, as we have written about before, make sure your social media presence is something that you would be happy for employers to see, and that includes all platforms, not just LinkedIn. Also, LinkedIn is great for research, but don’t try and connect with potential employers in advance of an interview or just after writing to them; it’s not good etiquette and will likely seem far too forward.

No matter the format you use for getting in touch, remember the basics; manners. Thank people for their time, be grateful for their advice and always be respectful. If you do this, invest in your research and be creatively persistent in your approach, your careers fair ‘follow up’ could be very successful indeed.

Remember you can also research employers on the gradireland website for even more information on what different employers are like.


Tips for your summer internship programme

Summer is just around the corner, and with it brings the beginning of this year’s summer internship programmes. With the arrival of a brand new group of summer interns to your organisation, we have asked leading graduate recruiters, who have been shortlisted for Best Internship Programme in this year’s Graduate Recruitment Awards, to give their top tips for summer internships.

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Cora Buckner, Global University Relations & Intern Programs Senior Manager, Abbott

“In starting an internship program, it is recommended that a company start small and engage business leaders early.  Ultimately, it is the businesses that will employee the interns, so it is important to get business support early on. Additionally, start with the end in mind.  Examine gaps in key skillsets and develop a programme to fill the gap.  A strong program will also have a clear career path for successful students.  Clear career paths can include development programmes, director hire and/or multiple internships.  During the internship business leaders should have access to interns to evaluate their cultural fit and technical skills”.

Deirdre O’Donoghue, HR Director, HedgeServ

“At HedgeServ, internships are an excellent way to get to know the graduate population, as well as giving graduates the opportunity to get to know us.  Our offering is different to that of the traditional internships and we actively engage with those programmes that best fit our Graduate Development Programme requirements. Our top tip would be to ensure undergraduates experience meaningful, interesting work; supported by relevant training. Developing strong relationships with the careers offices and placement programme managers is also a must, ensuring both the students and those advising are aware of our opportunities”.

Paul Vance, Head of Resourcing, KPMG

“A well run internship programme can yield a number of positive results. Your interns can be your future graduates, they can be your informal ambassadors back on campus and they can positively contribute to your organisation. So my advice is to have a structured programme in place, dedicated mentors and meaningful work. Always remember, while you are assessing the performance of your interns, they too are assessing your organisation as a future workplace.”

Caroline Burke, Senior Marketing Analyst, Accenture

“Considering that the Summer Internship is a short placement (90 days) our top tip is to have everything in place before the student arrives.

Have a calendar setup with all induction, training, project presentations and evaluation dates placed and agreed. This will guarantee that all activities will be executed, and that the expectations are aligned.  It can be a turning point to guarantee a successful internship experience”.

Gillian Ellard, Human Resources, William Fry

“William Fry sees the Internship Programmes as a vital recruitment tool.  Benefits include a first look at future business and legal talent.  For the graduate, it offers an opportunity to sample life in a large corporate law firm.  Our programmes offer the opportunity for a 3 year training contract”.

Nessa Kiely, Trainee & Intern Recruitment Manager , A & L Goodbody

Provide continuous feedback; Internships are really great learning experiences and Interns who join our Firm are always eager to develop and  learn as much as possible.  Most internship programmes include a formal evaluation process, both midway through and at the end of the internship.  However, whilst, these formal evaluations are beneficial, we always encourage our Partners and Associates, working with Interns to provide them with continuous, on the job feedback.  Interns really appreciate getting this feedback, making them aware of what they are doing well and giving them the chance to improve on their development areas.  We would also encourage our people to say “thank you”  “good job” and “well done” as  these words can be very motivating, proving to be the key differentiator in providing a positive internship experience.

On behalf of all of the team at gradireland, we would like to wish you the very best of luck with your internship programmes this summer. The full list of companies shortlisted for Best Internship Programme in this year’s Graduate Recruitment Awards can be viewed here.

For more details about the Annual gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards contact a member of our team on 01-6451500 or email contact@gradireland.com.


Early careers engagement – Is final year too late?

The simple answer is yes. In recent years, gradireland have received significant feedback from employers to say that many graduates leaving college, though highly skilled academically, often do not have the soft skills needed for the modern world of work nor an understanding of the career pathway options available to them.

It will come as no surprise that the majority of students do not start to focus on their future until far too late in their 3rd level journey, with many only starting to look at career opportunities and life after college in their final year. The problem for employers and students alike is that this leads to students graduating without the employability skills that employers need, as well as a general unpreparedness for the realities of working life.

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It is clear that due to the improving economy and a deepening understanding by many employers of the importance of graduate recruitment, competition has really begun to intensify. Therefore graduate attraction and engagement with final year students has become a more crowded space, putting the graduate in the driving seat. At the same time recent gradireland research found that 49% of graduate recruiters anticipate challenges in finding candidates with the right skills to excel in their organisations.

So what can be done?

The good news is that there is a, “two birds-one stone” solution. Early engagement allows employers to influence and educate at the same time by helping to foster a relationship between the potential future candidate and the employer brand.

One such example of a leading graduate recruiter that is actively participating in early careers engagement is Accenture. In January 2016, Accenture hosted an event targeting second level students to raise awareness of all the career opportunities in the field of STEM. This event was not only an amazing opportunity to showcase all of the fantastic opportunities available with science, technology, engineering and maths but also an effective introduction of the Accenture employer brand to students who will start to make career decisions in the not-too-distant future.  At a recent gradireland Breakfast Masterclass, Ingrid Devlin, EMEA Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Dell Ireland explained that many of the world’s leading graduate employers have now even started engaging with students at primary level.

gradireland is at the centre of this movement, having introduced the brand new, innovative #FYI  content initiative this year. This campaign is driven by bespoke video and infographic content, created in partnership with the employer; it is designed to highlight the importance of career pathway awareness and soft skill development. We are so proud to have some of Ireland’s leading graduate recruiters on board for this initiative; you can view some of the #FYI videos here.

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