A day in the life of a graduate distiller

Karen Cotter outlines her journey and experiences as part of the Jameson Graduate Distiller Programme.Karen Cotter


My name is Karen. I am currently working as a Graduate Distiller with Jameson.  I studied process & chemical engineering at UCC. During the third and fourth year of my course I had to do a 6 month placement. I was really lucky to get a placement at Midleton Distilleries in Cork. During this placement I gained insight into the production of whiskey from grain to glass. I also learned all about the heritage and history of whiskey production which triggered my decision to apply for the Jameson Distillery Graduate Programme.


The application for this graduate programme included an online and video application. The most difficult part about applying for this programme was making the application video. My advice for someone applying is to not let this stand in your way! Since I have joined the company I can now see why the video application is such an important part of the selection process. Not only is the company looking for someone with technical knowledge, they also want their graduates to have a personality and the confidence to engage with consumers and be comfortable speaking in public. After all my hard work I was delighted to be successful in my application for the Jameson Distillers Graduate Programme and I have never looked back.

Day to day life

I have been part of the Graduate Distiller programme for the past two years where, day to day, I worked primarily in the Batch Brewhouse, the Bond Area (where all of the whiskey is matured) and I also got my first experience of pot distillation, conducting whiskey tasting for consumers and giving site tours of the distillery to visitors. It’s so much fun giving the tours around the distillery and I have met a wide range of people from all over the world during my time with Jameson!

I found that through my time on the Graduate Distiller Programme, my public speaking and confidence improved dramatically. This came in handy last September when I had to give a speech at the opening of the Micro Distillery, which was attended by the Tánaiste. Something I did not expect to be doing two years after graduating from an engineering degree!


Towards the end of the Graduate Distillers Programme, I started looking at my job options. Luckily a position opened for a Micro Distiller with Jameson. This was a fantastic opportunity and all of my experience as part of the Graduate Distiller Programme helped me get the job! My main roles in this position involves me operating plant machinery, as well as interacting with customers and visitors.

If you like the sound of my life and the role I had as part of the Jameson Graduate Distillers Programme, you can still apply! Closing date is 1pm on Wednesday 25th November 2015.

For more information about careers advice check out the gradireland website.

How to ‘follow up’ your careers fair contacts


gradireland graduate careers fair

Last week saw the biggest, busiest and brightest gradireland Graduate Careers Fair yet at the RDS, so if you made it down, thanks for helping make it such a great event! If you found it informative, inspiring and interesting you’re in good company, we’ve received plenty of positive feedback from employers, students and graduates.

So, if you met an employer, or employers, at the fair, what do you do next? How do you keep in touch, strike when the iron is still hot and make sure they know that their organisation is where you want to work? So should you call them, email them, stand outside their office (probably not a good idea this one), how exactly do you ‘follow up’ without seeming over-eager (or like a stalker)?

Following Up

Well the good news is that employers expect to be ‘followed up’. In fact, in most cases , they anticipate it. The difference is how you do it, as they will receive a great many phone calls, emails and possibly even people standing outside their offices! But they will disregard the vast majority of them. Think strategy, not tactics. The fair was last week so it’s about now that you should be getting in touch, if you haven’t already. Review the employers you talked to at the event, write down the details and at least one follow up action for each employer. It could be writing a short introductory email, along with your CV, or it could be that you need to research the company more before you make any speculative contact. Take the time to do this; it will pay off in the long run. If you have a personal contact (i.e. sarah@perfectemployer is better than hr@facelessfactory), use it. But remember, this person will be getting plenty of emails from people just like you. 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 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….”. As with any job though, make sure you tailor your email for each employer. Don’t carpet-bomb 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 and 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.

To hear some of the optimism and opinions on the day, listen to this excellent report by Cian McCormack of RTE. For more advice on how to get your application right, visit gradireland.

A new face to guide you through the 2016 gradireland/postgradireland directory

It’s a hectic time here in gradireland, and this week the first two of our range of titles for 2016 have been sent off to the printers. Along with the 2016 Finance Sector Guide, we are very happy to send our 304 page, bigger and better, gradireland and postgradireland directory to print.








To help you guide you through the various sections, whether it be job hunting tips, career sector advice or postgraduate study help, we are delighted to introduce ‘gradman’, your perfect guide to the 2016 gradireland/postgradireland directory. Keep an eye out for it on your campus from mid-September!


We’ve a host of other titles off to print over the coming weeks, packed with careers and postgrad information. If you’ve missed any of our current publications, download them here.

Skills supply report points to particular graduate opportunities in science, IT and health


‘Monitoring Ireland’s Skills Supply 2015’ is the tenth in a series of reports produced by SOLAS on behalf of the Expert Group for Future Skills Needs (EGFSN). The purpose of the report is to provide an overview of the skills profile of the population.

The main findings of the report point to the fact that there are over one million qualification holders, or a third of the population, who have studied in one of the following areas:

  • (SSBL) Social science, business & law (including commerce)
  • Accountancy
  • Marketing
  • Business management

Further to this, another 320,000 persons have post-secondary qualifications, with engineering/construction, such as craft awards, accounting for a third.

Areas of opportunity

Science: Highly-skilled professionals such as actuaries, statisticians and teachers are particularly in demand in this field.

Engineering and construction: The difference between those with post-secondary qualifications and those with third level qualifications is much smaller in these areas, with the report revealing employment rates almost as high for those with qualifications such as apprenticeships, as for graduates.

SSBL: The career paths in this sector, according to report are very much determined by the level to which the candidate has studied.  However, there are many business related occupations which have been identified as experiencing shortages and growth prospects are positive for the financial and professional services sectors.

Health/welfare: There are high levels of employment for graduates with the right qualifications in this field. Employment opportunities in the health sector are mostly in government funded organisations; although there have been limited opportunities in recent years due to restricted healthcare budgets, demand for these skills are expected to be sustained and most likely to increase.

Education: Third level graduates are very much in demand for certain posts in this area and there is a higher than average proportion of recent university graduates employed overseas in the education sector. However at home, employment opportunities depend very much on government policy and funding according to the report. Demand for educational professionals is also affected by the size of the school going age population; “these factors will impact on the demand for teachers in the coming years,” says the report.

Arts/humanities: Graduates in these fields are most likely to continue their studies, specialising in a particular area, according to the report. The report also says that arts/humanities graduates may be more flexible in meeting labour market needs “but they may also be susceptible to having to accept lower skilled employment as many arts/humanities courses do not have a vocational element.”

Services: Tourism and hospitality is a sector highlighted by the report as one which presents significant opportunities to graduates. The report adds that while graduates in this area do find employment opportunities, it is a sector particularly affected by the economic climate.

The report comes only a short time after its companion research, the National Skills Bulletin, was released. Read our article on the Bulletin here.  For more on sector based advice from graduates, visit our sector hubs.


New National Skills Bulletin 2015 shows continued improvement in the Irish labour market and identifies job sectors in demand



The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) today (17th July 2015) published the National Skills Bulletin 2015, which provides an overview of employment trends at occupational level.

The report shows that, with the economic recovery strengthening, shortages are intensifying in some of the well-known areas that we have blogged about previously (ICT, engineering, sales/customer care, logistics, health, business and finance); and gaps are also emerging in new areas such as hospitality and construction. It therefore follows that these are key areas for graduates to target for employment.

Key Findings:

Where are the skills shortages?

  • Professionals/graduate positions including:
  • ICT (software developers, cloud, databases/big data, testing, security, technical support, networking and infrastructure)
  • Engineering (production, process, quality, validation, product design/development, electronic, electrical, mechanical and chemical)
  • Science (biochemistry, biotechnology, pharma co-vigilance, product development)
  • Business & finance (risk, compliance, accounting, business intelligence, data analytics)
  • Health (doctors, nurses, radiographers, niche area specialists including prosthetists and radiation therapists, and managers)
  • Construction (surveyors)
  • Clerical (multilingual credit control/debt control and supply chain)
  • Sales (technical sales, multilingual customer support, online sales and marketing)
  • Skilled trades (chefs, tool making, welding (TIG, MIG), butchers/de-boners, steel-erector).

More detailed information on all of these sectors can be found on the gradireland Sector Pages at http://gradireland.com/career-sectors; and you can browse and investigate specific job descriptions and career paths at http://gradireland.com/careers-advice/job-descriptions.

The National Skills Bulletin 2015 is available to download from the EGFSN website,
www.skillsireland.ie/Expert-Group-on-Future-Skill-Group/Publications/2015/National Skills Bulletin 2015.html

gradireland’s publications for 2016 taking shape!

We’re hard at work all summer here in gradireland, producing another suite of publications for the 2015/16 academic year. As always, we’ve been collaborating with students, academics, postgraduate study providers and employers to ensure our products continue to deliver comprehensive careers advice, insider tips and employer insights for students, graduates and job-seekers.


In September 2015, our flagship publication, the gradireland Directory, will be released on campuses throughout Ireland. The ‘must have’ aide for job-seekers, graduates and postgrad students; we’re focusing on providing you with all the information, practical tips and advice that you’ll need. Above is the cover for the 2016 edition, and we’ll be releasing other sneak previews of our forthcoming titles in the near future. In the meantime you can download all the current editions here.

How to express yourself with confidence in an interview


Confident communication skills help us to make and maintain good connections. They are essential for securing a job and vital traits once you are employed. Each year the gradireland Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey reveals communication to be one of the core areas of concern for employers when it comes to graduate recruits. In an interview situation, nerves and stress can be a factor, no matter whether it is your first interview or your fifth. But you have the capability to communicate confidently, you just need to know how to and when. To enhance your communication skills during an interview, EMPLOY the following tips;

  1. Eye contact. It is important to smile and to make eye contact with your interviewer/interviewers as you meet them and throughout the interview process. This creates a non-verbal connection between you and them, it inspires their trust in you and conveys your confidence and people skills.
  1. Modulate your voice. We can all develop the habit of speaking in the same tone. By modulating or changing our voice we keep people’s interest. It gives the impression that we are interested in and enthusiastic about what we have to say. People want to work with interested and interesting people. There are a number of skills you can use to achieve this variety. The first way is to raise the pitch (height and depth) of your voice when making a new point. Think of it like telling a story, some parts require more emphasis, and a different pitch, than others.
  1. P Don’t be afraid to pause before answering a question, or during an answer. It will give you a chance to gather your thoughts, take a breath if needed, stay or regain calm and allow your interviewer to absorb what you have said. By practising pause, pre-interview, it can help you to identify filler words to avoid, such as “Eh…. Um…. Like”, and filter them out of your vocabulary! Don’t worry about creating tumbleweed moments; a pause will feel much longer to you than to your listener. Pausing can stop panic in its tracks and communicates confidence and that you are comfortable with taking the time to think before responding.
  1. L Being an engaged listener is an essential communication skill. Taking the time to comprehend and be interested in what is being said ensures that you can take in what is being asked. Listening intently keeps you focused, calm and in the present, enabling you to think more clearly and to express yourself more effectively.
  1. Open Your Mouth. When you get nervous, your jaw becomes susceptible to tension, which means we may not open our mouth freely, resulting in our words sounding mumbled. Alleviate this tension by yawning, massaging the hinges of your jaw and stretching your face. Just make sure you do it pre-interview! Sometimes it’s just a matter of focus; remembering to loosen up and articulate yourself properly. As you practise for interviews, exaggerate your articulation by “over” opening your mouth. It may feel over the top, but this is just to get your speech moving and out of your mouth and it won’t sound or look nearly as strange as it might feel! An Open Posture is a confident posture. It features chin parallel with the floor, shoulders unraised and back, arms and legs uncrossed and top it off with a firm handshake. Before your interview, find a private space to practise a power posture by standing with your feet more than hip width apart and your hands on your hips, or raised in the air, creating a V shape.
  1. Your attire. Bare in mind, as you dress to impress, that you will express yourself best when you are comfortable. Have a dress rehearsal as you practise your interview to ensure that you can move, sit, breathe and speak easily. Every little helps in interview situations so give yourself the best possible chance.

Emma Coogan helps people to express themselves clearly, with confidence and charisma. She runs the Emma Coogan School of Speech and Drama. Visit her on Facebook or keep up to date with Emma on Twitter. For some videos on confidence techniques that work, have a look here .

Read here for more practical interview advice and tips from gradireland


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