dearbhlaLet me introduce myself, I am Dearbhla Kelly. I am a qualified Guidance Counsellor, Life and Business Coach and I’m qualified in Psychometric testing.

I am passionate about coaching and helping clients find satisfaction and meaning in their career choices. I am a big believer in following what you love and translating dreams into action.

In addition, I write about how parents can be a positive influence on their teenager’s career choices and decisions. My book ‘Career Coach’, published by Gill and Macmillan is available in all leading bookstores.

My newsletter

Many parents struggle with teenagers who are prone to distractions and find it hard to focus. Some teens may know what their career goals are, but still find it hard to act and study in a way so that they can reach their goals. To help parents support teenagers to cultivate good study habits I have formulated 10 weekly emails.

My 10 Step Newsletter Programme will:

  • Show how to motivate your teen without nagging
  • Give you tools to increase your teenager’s confidence
  • Help you to get them started on their goals and to follow through
  • Tell you how you can help your teen beat procrastination
  • Help you support your teen in becoming more productive

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter

Considerations when taking the next step to further or higher education!


Your teen may be very happy today with their CAO offer and if that’s the case, celebrate the moment and ensure that they follow the acceptance instructions on The deadline for accepting Round One offers is 5.15 on August 29th.

If it’s the case however, that your teen is desperately disappointed right now because they didn’t get their preferred CAO choice, it’s important to acknowledge their feelings and examine their options. They may be offered what they want in Round Two on August 31st. In the meantime, it’s wise to consider accepting their first offer before the deadline. If they do accept their first choice in Round Two, the first offer from Round One will be invalidated. Also, don’t dismiss a Level 7 offer as these courses frequently have progressions onto Level 8 courses. Check out these links on

If your teenager is one of the many who received no offer, don’t despair, there are alternatives. There are always vacant places on the CAO website. Private colleges also offer degree courses at lower points; they do, however, charge substantially higher fees. Some colleges offer direct entry. P.T.O.

Take the anxiety out of the situation as much as you can. There are ‘scenic’ routes that your teen can take to their preferred course. 60% of all courses are open to graduates, so an Arts graduate can apply to Medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons. Explore all graduate entry routes. At all times, remain optimistic!

Some teens are not ready for college or may be better suited to further education and training. A more vocational and practical route may allow your teen to thrive. If they feel that they aren’t mature enough for college yet, they may benefit from deferring entry for a year until they are clearer about their career path. They could consider the wonderful opportunities and courses available through the following:

  1. PLC (Post Leaving Cert courses) – prior to employment or third level
  2. Access courses act as a bridge to learning and offer additional supports to those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Visit
  3. World of Work – Perhaps the more practical route of earning while they learn will suit them better?
  4. Apprenticeships – A trade can be as a good as a degree. An apprenticeship will allow your teen to earn while they learn. There are 25 new apprenticeships coming on-stream.
  5. Other options include training with the Guards, Army, Navy, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Teagasc, the ESB and similar companies

To find out more about these options, explore your local ETB’s further education and training services. P.T.O.

If your teen has a learning or physical disability, contact the college Disability Officer. Colleges provide assistants and assistive technology where required. Having special accommodation in place will ease your teen’s transition. Use the supports offered by DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) and advice from AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability).

If your teen is prone to anxiety or depression, explore and discuss the supports available in college, including free counselling services

Keep in mind location and accommodation choices. There is only a small window to plan between CAO offers and the start of college. Have an honest conversation with your teen about what’s possible within your family budget. Even parents living close to colleges have to factor in registration and contribution fees, transport and other costs. Keep on top of the SUSI grant applications and communications.

A fantastic world of opportunities exists today for school-leavers. Education is a critical key to unlocking those opportunities and it’s a superb time to step aboard the engine of growth.

Help your son or daughter clarify their expectations before taking the next step!


In the flurry of excitement after the Leaving Cert and A level results, practical and emotional considerations for your teen such as accommodation, costs, mental health, independence, personal responsibility are of course critical. Nevertheless, it is as important to take time to discuss with your teen their motivation for choosing the course that they have chosen. Here are 4 ways that your son or daughter can clarify their expectations before taking the next step!

1. In relation to CAO choices or UCAS choices, ask your teen about what they think awaits them when they finish their degree/course. A mum of A level twins told me that her boys were looking at auditing. They were attracted to the high salary of an auditor. She asked them what they knew about the day-to-day reality of the job and the emphasis on mathematics and problem-solving. The boys had only thought about the salary. While it’s okay to follow the money and the trends, it’s important to have the passion, interest, curiosity and strengths for the field in question.

2. Examine the content of the courses with your teen and see if they still appeal to them. In addition, look at graduate destinations. Where do these graduates end up working? Ask your teen, ‘could you imagine yourself working there?’
If your teen is not sure, encourage them to pick a general first year entry course; in other words, to sample all subjects in Year 1 and then specialise in Year 2. There are many common entry courses to engineering, science and arts and so on. This takes the pressure off to decide on a particular specialism. If your teen is not ready to take the next step, then consider deferring their entry through the right channels.

3. One of the myths floating around is that a degree gets you a job. This is not the case. It is a help. It’s the person you become that matters. It’s important that your teen develops life skills and maturity. Encourage your teen to work on their own development and employability.
They can do this by showing up and saying ‘yes’ to activities that promote growth. For example, I have worked with college students who developed themselves through debating societies, by taking on roles in student unions, by being class reps or joining various clubs. Extra-curricular activities and part-time jobs can really help teens build life skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking and so on.
4. Another myth that floats around campuses is that grades are all that matter.
I have worked with unemployed graduates with first class honours degrees. They were experts in their fields of astrophysics, engineering and maths, however, they didn’t engage with the Careers Services at college and they were unable to articulate their skills or sell themselves during the job search process. Chat with your teen about the importance of:
 Work Placement
 Networking
 Employers
 Internships
 Summer Vac (summer work placements)
 Erasmus Year (year in a European college)

Employers see these things as a reflection of maturity, courage and independence.

All in all, student advisors tell me that having clear expectations of what lies ahead is key to success in higher or further education. Informed clarity avoids disappointment and drop out. It allows your son or daughter maximize their chosen path and increase their future employ-ability.

Dropping Out of College- La Dolce Vita

la dolce vita graphicFrom Engineering to Engineering Taste – The Procrastibaker

It can be done because it has been done

The people, events and situations outlined below are real.

The Person: Aoife’s career path got off to a wobbly start as she got her third choice in CAO, Engineering in Trinity. Her first and second choices were Psychology. After a few months of feeling no desire for Engineering she dropped out of college.
The Dream: She had to examine her heart’s desire. Aoife realised that she had fallen deliriously in love. She was consumed by her love morning, noon and night. The sight, sense and taste of her love filled her up. Aoife had fallen in love with…
The Road: She dropped out of Trinity and headed off to Florence to study in a Cordon Bleu cookery school and study Italian. Her passion carried her through the language barrier to make pasta, pizza, sushi.
Upon her return to Ireland continued. Aoife took a leap and created her own brand ‘Sweet Inspirations’. Everyone thought she was crazy to give up Trinity and Engineering for the seduction of food.
The Outcome: Her recent creation of chocolate brownies was featured on the Facebook account of the Paleo recipe world, which, has 63,000 viewers. These brownies have elevated her status in the food blogger kingdom and prompted a great reaction. This positive feedback has given her great joy.
When we met, she had to deal with the challenges of applying herself to her daily studies in Italian and Psychology in UCD. Avoidance of studies and getting distracted by food has earned her the nickname, “The Procastibaker”. Her waking and sleeping thoughts still centre on engineering great taste.
During our sessions we brainstormed ways in which she could she could marry Psychology, Italian and Food together into a meaningful career.
Joining the dots going forward between her degree and her future was the key to unlocking her motivation to get out of the kitchen and into the lecture halls. Aoife has since graduated and is now living and working ‘la dolce vita’ in Italy.

Her blog of featured cookery is on .
She markets herself on Facebook :

Construction to Archaeology in two sessions – It can be done because it has been done



The people, events and situations outlined below are real.  Names have been changed for privacy purposes. 


The Person: Ray was a construction worker who had been unemployed for four years.  When we met he was feeling very low.  He was apprehensive, Career Guidance was a new experience for him.  His four years were marked by a lack of self-worth and motivation.  He felt that he did not even to deserve to socialise with friends while he was out of work.  He was full of indecision.


The Dream: He knew that it would benefit him to return to learning and having done some research, he was torn between studying Archaeology and studying Renewable Energies.  When we teased out his ‘high dream’, he saw himself at the cutting edge of Archaeology heading a team excavating an ancient site in Egypt.  The thought of being a leader in a field he loved filled him with a mixture of butterflies and excitement.


The Road:  I invited Ray invited to consider a different version of himself, his ideal self.  Ray’s friends said a career in Archaeology offered limited work opportunities.  Everyone was pointing him towards Renewable Energies and windmills as they felt the next wave of employment would arise from Green Energy.

Ray hesitated about direction, age and money.  It had been 15 years since he had been at school and he was concerned about being a mature student.   But he listened to the possibilities.


The Outcome:  In essence, Ray learned through the Career Guidance process to be guided his own inner compass; to be true to himself, to own his own life and make his own decisions.  He chose to go back to College, is now studying Archaeology & Geology and loving it.

Are you feeling stuck in a position? Would you like to manifest your dreams and create a better lifestyle and income for yourself? Would you like to use all of your skills and strengths in a way that allows you to enjoy your work more? Is there  a goal that you have been putting on the long finger? Feel free to comment below.





7 breaths in, brings in success, 11 breaths out, let go of anxiety!

keep-calm-and-bdIn the past week, I have completed a Human Given’s Guided Mastery Course. This course taught me techniques that would allow my clients mentally rehearse for success.
As it is exam season across the world, I thought that their 7/11 breathing technique would really help students deal with the pressures of exams. OF course, it would be beneficial to people preparing for interviews or presentations.
As exams approach, one of the easiest ways for students to relax is to concentrate on their own breathing. If you are a student, or someone reading this blog who is under pressure, I suggest that you settle yourself comfortably in a place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit on a chair or lie comfortably with your hands side by side in your lap. Or your arms by your side, or place them on your lap and make sure your legs are uncrossed. Close your eyes. Now concentrate on becoming aware of your feet on the floor, your legs and arms where they are resting or hands touching each other and your back as it is supported by the chair or floor. Let your shoulders relax and take in a really deep breath.
Then make each out breath last longer than your in breath (This is important because the out breath stimulates the body’s natural relaxation response. Changing the pattern of breathing in this way, allows your body to relax). Breathe in to count of 7, then breathe out gently and more slowly to the count of 11. This can be a challenge. If you cannot breathe out that long then breathe in again.
Do this about 10 to 20 times, knowing that you will relax more with each breath.
Concentrate on the counting (try not to let your mind wander off; if it does, just bring it back and don’t judge yourself) and feel the welcome sense of calm flow in. You could say to yourself if you wish, “I breathe in calm and peace. I breathe out all sense of worry”. However, just concentrating on the breath is enough in itself.
Try and become aware of how much less tense you feel, just by relaxing your breathing.
Students could try this before studying, before exams or prior to presentations. 7/11 breathing can get the oxygen flowing all around the body and to the brain bring vital energy back into the body. It also releases students or people from that “fight or flight” mode that causes a freezing of the brain and allows students to tap into their thinking brain.
If you know a student that is anxious, give them these tools. They will be able to access them successfully in any situation that causes them overwhelm. This simple breathing technique will allow them improve their overall performance. They can use this at home, in the car, in the exam hall or on the sports field. Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone well in their exams!

5 Ways Teens Can Guarantee Success in Career Choice

I believe interest is critical to success. It’s essential to study or do an apprenticeship in what you want to do. What do you love doing? When is your energy high? When do you feel most alive? What are you most curious about? What grabs your attention so much that you don’t notice where the time goes? When you are choosing your courses I strongly advise you to follow your passions and interests
2. STRENGTHS Coupled with interests, you must make choices that support your strengths. Strengths are your aptitudes. They are things you do effortlessly. They come naturally to you. Some of you might be very practical and good at mechanics or with your hands. Others might be very good with numbers. Some of you might shine in sports. Others might be really good at getting on with others. Research suggests (Gallup) that we should double down on our talents. It tells us that people who focus on their strengths are 6 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and 3 times more likely to have life satisfaction.
Online tests that help define your intelligences and strengths include Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, VARK learning styles, and strengthsfinder 2.0 ( US test )
3. The third way that you can make your future work for you is to focus on MEANING. Do you ever consider what you might have to offer the world? Do you ever ask yourself, what does the world need from you? Did you ever consider how you could serve others? How could you meet people’s needs? Did it ever occur to you that you can make a difference?
Studies show that, where people are focused on an inner meaning or purpose that serves others, they have more satisfaction. Look for ways that your unique talents, dreams and desires can serve global or local needs in your local area.
4. The fourth way that you can create a great future is to RESEARCH .Drill down deeper. Ask lots of questions to people in the careers that you are interested in. (Typical day, skills involved, training, positives and negatives about the work, recommendations, promotion opportunities etc)
In terms of College…..
Dropping out costs anything from €3,000 to €10,000 in fees alone, never mind living costs and grants. Now is the time to get real. Ask questions. Seek advice from people in the field. Look at the course content. Drill down deeper. Look at the content closely. Does it play to your interests and strengths? Where do people end up afterwards? Look at graduate destinations on the college websites. Where do people end up working? Does that appeal to you? Could you imagine yourself working there?

In terms of trades or gaining employment…….
If you are looking to do a trade, put your ear to the ground. Who is a fair employer? Where are the opportunities? How should you approach the employer? Is your CV in good shape? Could you do health and safety courses in order to make you a better prospect to an employer? Is there a PLC that would help you? Or a welding/ practical/ IT course? Do the groundwork now. Don’t wait until September. I have met too many students who didn’t make a plan and ended up, fed up, on the dole without the support of a school. Employers value motivation and learning.DSC_1357

5. The final way that you can create a great future is not to give up! Adopt an attitude of someone who keeps trying. Learn to get back up on the horse again after a setback. It’s Ok to fail. It’s Ok not to know. It’s OK to ask for help. Don’t set limits on yourself. Anything is possible. 60 % of courses are available to graduates. So, an Arts student could do Medicine. A Sports Science graduate can be a Physiotherapist. There are back doors into so many professions.
Whatever you decide to do, I want you to really commit to yourself. Don’t limit yourself! Don’t play small. Don’t play safe.

Dearbhla on TV3

Delighted to be on Ireland Am with tips from Career Coach. Talking with Anna Daly and Tommy Martin about CAO and how parents can help teens make happy and successful career choices.

10 Tips For Parents from ‘ Career Coach ‘to Help Them Find Work They’ll Love

DSC_RosaleenThe publication of ‘Career Coach’ by Dearbhla Kelly is in circulation and getting great feedback. ‘Career Coach’ gives parents 10 steps that will help them lead their teen to their life purpose. Purpose defines who are and what we do in life. Some people have a clear idea of their purpose and career path from a young age. Others discover their purpose by rising to a challenge or stepping out of their comfort zone. For many, life purpose and the discovery of their vocational calling is a gradual process.

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10 Tips that Help Parents Assist Their Teens Discover Life Purpose

It’s the final countdown to the publication of ‘Career Coach’ by Dearbhla Kelly. ‘Career Coach’ gives parents 10 steps that will help them lead their teen to their life purpose. Purpose defines who are and what we do in life. Some people have a clear idea of their purpose and career path from a young age. Others discover their purpose by rising to a challenge or stepping out of their comfort zone. For many, life purpose and the discovery of their vocational calling is a gradual process.

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My New Book, Career Coach- A Step By Step Guide to Help Your Teen Find Their Life Purpose

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do”–Steve Jobs.

For many years, I had wanted to write a book that would help teenagers find their life purpose. As a teenager and young adult, I myself struggled knowing what career path to take in life. Over the years, I met many people who were searching for a satisfying working life.

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Signposts Pointing to Your Life Purpose

Life purpose is something that we all think about at various stages throughout our lives. I mulled and chewed over my life purpose as a teenager and again in my mid to late twenties and early thirties. In my daily work, I meet people of all ages who are grappling with their life purpose and finding meaning in the world of work.

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Are you a Mature Student and thinking about going back to College? –Some Points to Consider.

This is the time of year that many adults are also thinking about re skilling, revisiting Higher Education or going to Higher Education for the first time.

Those adults who are aged, new horizons 23 by the first of February are considered as Mature Students for the purpose of CAO applications. These days it is very common for people to consider going to College or University later in life. Redundancies, disability, dissatisfaction in careers, a change of life circumstances or unfulfilled dreams may prompt people to think about going back to education.

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Networking Your Way Towards Your Dream Job

I regularly meet people who are just waiting for the perfect job advert to appear in the paper and their dream job to land in their lap. Only this week a friend was in tears frustrated by the usual job seeking tactics. She heavily relied on job adverts and application procedures and was getting very poor results. Every day, she sat at home waiting for change to happen. I suggested that she take a more active approach to her job search and get out and network. Now, many people shy away from networking and consider it as ‘pushy’. We need to reframe our attitudes to networking and see it as helping others and adapting and connecting with them.

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Take That Approach to Careers

“Take That” Take On Careers!

A young handsome dark haired man came to me for career advice. In my mind, I thought, I thought, he could be an actor, a model or be in a boy band or perhaps be a finalist in the X Factor! The possibilities were endless. With his chiselled handsome looks of dark hair and eyes and his pleasing personality he could have given the Hollywood actors a run for their money.

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Career Changers-Yoga Me Happy

Drinking in the sun high on a café terrace in the hilltop Village of Casperia in Italy, Eliza and I had a session to look at Eliza’s ideal career life. In her personal life, Eliza was deliriously happy. However, her work life left her feeling unfulfilled. On paper it looked like Eliza had everything going for her, a well-paid job in London as a marketing manager of major shopping centres and retail property clients. In actual fact, she loved the clients and the team around her and yet there was a gaping hole within her in terms of work satisfaction.

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When Death Deals us a Blow!

What do death and careers got in common?
Sarah is a young single Mum of 28 years. For many years now she has been grappling with career choice. Internally, she feels stuck going back and forth between two choices of Business and Health Sciences.

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Ten Ways to Keep Moving in the Right Career Direction

In attending the Inspired Entrepreneur Programme in London with Nick Williams I picked up some of the following tips and adapted them:

1. Create a Vision of Where You Want to Be in Your Life

Imagine your ideal life, your ideal work. What do you want it to look like and feel like? What would you like to hear yourself saying about your ideal life situation? Transcend your current situation, worries and cares and think about where you want to be long term. Create a ‘vision board’ containing pictures, words and images of what you want, or write a paragraph on your dream life.

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The Power of Baby Steps

James (not his real name) wants to get into a course that requires over 500 points. Thinking about the points required for the course and the effort needed overwhelms him. James feels it’s like he’s trying to scale an insurmountable mountain.

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Let’s help John

John has graduated with a Law Degree from Trinity and gone on to qualify as a solicitor. John was thrilled to get a good position in a small law firm doing conveyancing. Things were going really well initially and he loved the feeling of having money and going for drinks with his colleagues in Temple Bar on a Friday evening. Only six months into the job, John was let go due to the downturn in property market. He was gutted as he had just bought a new BMW on hire purchase. He didn’t know how he would ever make the repayments.

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The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

Author: Ken Robinson

Penguin Books 2009, 260 pages

This book is aimed at anyone interested exploring their own potential and the potential of those around them. It is about how passion, imagination, creativity, values and luck influence on career decision-making.  Sir Ken Robinson is one of the world’s leading speakers on the development of education, creativity and innovation.  In his book he shares a wide range of stories of how people such as Paul McCartney, Paolo Coelho, Meg Ryan, dancer Gillian Lynne and screenwriter, Matt Groening found their ‘element’.  He describes ‘ the element ‘ as ‘the place where the things you love to do and the things you are good at come together’.

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Sherlock Holmes of the Past

Ray was a construction worker who had been unemployed for four years. Understandably, when we met, he was feeling very low. He said that when he first arrived for Guidance he felt “tearful”. He said that he had expected his visit to Guidance to be a form-filling session, however, he found it like Counselling. After the session, Ray said “it was the best thing” he had done in years,  “as I would still be in the town scratching my head, still trying to make up my mind about the future”.

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High Dreamers – Returning to Learning as an Adult

I recently worked with a group of adults returning to learn I.T. Skills. They ranged in age from 20-67 years. On their first day, they were understandably both excited and scared. We teased out their concerns by using a format devised by Alan Richardson called ‘High Dream/Low Dream’.

I asked the group what their ‘high dream’ would be; what would the successful completion of this course mean for them? How would they feel afterwards? How might their lives be different?

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GRATITUDE: Counting my Blessings

An ‘attitude of gratitude’ can raise our happiness index and sense of well-being.   A few months ago, I made a decision to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, to count my blessings and keep a written record of them.  The act of gratitude allowed me to savour the present moment  and things such as:

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