“Health and happiness before business…. And then business.” Robert Chambers, Ireland’s biggest Hairdressing Academy

Robert Chambers started his career as an apprentice fitter in Roadstone. He is now a hairdresser and business owner. Robert runs his own hairdressing academies. He never guessed he would end up being a hairdresser. He always thought he would end up doing something related to engineering or architecture.

Robert’s advice to young people starting out or to people who want to get started in the same field is as follows, “You can go the apprentice route or train in a private academy, where you will have the chance to make money sooner. You get what you put into it, you can come out as a good hairdresser or an amazing hairdresser. It depends on your determination. Prepare a very good CV, make a list of select salons, visit those salons, and ask for a 30 second meeting with the owner/manager. I’m a great believer in making a visual impression. Always keep in mind that you continually need to work with people better than you to grow your skills and maintain your standards.”

Robert says his biggest lesson to date is that, “professionals can give you advice, but it is not written in stone and you still have to work through things yourself and apply your intelligence. You are walking the plank alone when you run your own business. Try to keep your ego in check and keep a level head.”

His motto for life is, “health and happiness before business…. And then business.”

Robert Chambers features in Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co and available in all leading bookshops and on Amazon.

Help your teen find their life’s purpose with The Career Coach – Dearbhla Kelly

A recent National Student Survey carried out by campus.ie highlighted that 50% of Irish students had considered dropping out of their course, and 30% would change their CAO forms if they had a chance.

As it stands in Ireland, one-in-six students drop out of their chosen college course feeling disillusioned about their career path and uncertain about their future. This can deal a major blow to their self-esteem, not to mention the financial blow to parents who are paying the tuition fees.

Most career advice in Ireland has a rather narrow focus when helping teens decide which college course to choose, but Dearbhla Kelly’s Career Coach is different. By looking at the bigger picture – who they are and what they are good at – Career Coach teaches parents ways to identify abilities, skills and talents in their teenager, as well as their innate passions and values, to realise their full potential.

Experienced and inspirational career guidance counsellor, Dearbhla will empower parents to motivate and encourage their teenagers towards their future life dreams.

Career Coach is invaluable for parents of teenagers starting secondary school, selecting subjects after transition year, filling out CAO forms and preparing for their Leaving Certificate results.

Published by Gill and Macmillian – Career Coach is available in all leading bookstores and on Amazon.

“Start – just start. Don’t wait for it to be right.” – Caitlin O’Connor M.D., Accelerating Performance.

Caitlin O’Connor is managing director of Accelerating Performance.

Caitlin is a leading expert and consultant in networking, lead generation and marketing strategy. Initially, Caitlin thought she wanted to be a primary school teacher. She did not pursue that path and instead studied business and marketing.

Here’s the advice she gives to young people starting out: “Start – just start. Don’t wait for it to be right.” She says that the biggest lesson in her career to date is that, “companies with values not aligned to yours can be the most challenging places to work. Choose a company that has the same values as you have. This means interviewing them and doing your research as much as them interviewing you. Not all cultures suit everybody. In the early days of one’s career, work for a large organisation that follows processes and has structure. This coupled with a good mentor will stand you in good stead for life!”

Caitlin’s arena is very relevant in today’s ever-changing world of work. To find out more, see Caitlin’s interview in Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co.

Career Coach is available in all leading bookstores and on Amazon.



Like the Nike advert, “Just do it”, Dr Ria Mahon, Medical officer with the Irish Medicines Board.

Dr Ria Mahon, Medical officer with the Irish Medicines Board.

Ria always wanted to study medicine. She trained as a doctor and worked in the field for years.  She now works with the Irish Medicine Board or Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and works on the safety aspect of medical devices.

Here’s her advice to people who would like to work in her field: “Be brave and follow the career that really motivates you. Do not follow a job path just for financial gain as this could lead you to a very frustrating and unfulfilled life. Find what you enjoy and find a way to make a living from this. Remember that fortune favours the brave. Be persistent in following your goals and dreams, as there will always be obstacles in your way. Sometimes how you reach your dreams will not always be clear to you. Focus on the end result and the way will sort itself out. Remember that hard work gets you a long way and that success is 99% perspiration.”

Ria tells us that, “we overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in a decade.”

Her motto is, like the Nike advert, “Just do it”

Ria’s interview is featured in Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co.

Career Coach is available in all leading bookstores and on Amazon.


“If you want it, go get it yourself” – nobody owes you anything!” Donagh Kelly, CEO, KN Group

Donagh Kelly is CEO of the KN Group. KN Group is a provider to the telecommunications, civil engineering, rail, electricity and energy sectors in Ireland, UK and internationally. Donagh studied quantity surveying and as a student, a summer job led him into the telecommunications industry.

Here’s his advice to young people starting out or to people interested in this sector: “Put in the effort and push yourself forward. Remember, you definitely don’t know everything and you will make mistakes and that’s how you learn. Opportunity doesn’t come looking for you, you must find it; if you restrict your options in looking for opportunity it will be harder to realise your ambition. Step out of your comfort zone, the rewards in doing so are massive in all senses.”

Donagh’s motto is all about self responsibility, “If you want it, go get it yourself” – nobody owes you anything!”

The KN Group is the current sponsors of the Donegal County GAA team. To read more from this interview see Donagh’s interview in Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co.

Career Coach is available in all leading bookstores and on Amazon.

“Believe in yourself . . . it’s important not to waver in your dreams.” Diarmuid Gavin, Award Winning Garden Designer


Diarmuid Gavin started his career in a kitchen as a commis Chef. He left the kitchen for a job in a plant shop in Dublin. It was there that he discovered his love for plants and horticulture. He went on to study an apprenticeship in the Botanic Gardens in horticulture. Diarmuid is now an award-winning garden designer well known in the UK and Ireland. His success highlights the value of the alternative routes to college.

Here’s his advice on how to get started or to people who want a career in the same field: “Nothing comes easily.  The gardening industry is a tough one but it’s a passionate one. There’s a danger that people see gardeners on television achieving a degree of fame or fortune and believe those results are something to aspire to. If you love gardening and are imagining a career in it, show what you can do. Demonstrate your abilities either at home, in friends’ gardens, through gardening clubs in school or by seeking work in garden centres or with landscape contractors during the holiday periods. If nobody will give you a paid role, offer to work for free. Put everything into it, make yourself indispensible. Understand what it is you love about the subject and identify a role that is suitable to that. Then be the best at what you can be.”

Diarmuid’s motto is, “believe in yourself . . . it’s important not to waver in your dreams.”

Diarmuid’s interview is featured in Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co. Career Coach is available in all leading bookstores and on Amazon.

“Get experience, show respect, enjoy and love what you do.” Neven Maguire, Celebrity Chef

Neven Maguire loved cooking from a young age. He grew up cooking alongside his mum in the kitchen. It’s therefore no surprise that he followed his passion. Today he owns McNeans Restaurant and Cookery School. He’s well known on TV as a celebrity chef and for his countless cookbooks with Gill and Co.

Here’s his advice on getting started and to people who want to work in this field: “Go and work in a kitchen, get experience, show respect, enjoy and love what you do. The hours are long, so if you don’t really want to do it, then make it your hobby and not your job. It is not a job where you can have ‘off’ days. You have to pay attention to detail each and every day.”

His motto is, ” Get experience, show respect, enjoy and love what you do.”

Neven’s interview is featured in Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co.

Career Coach is available in all leading bookstores and on Amazon.


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 www.cao.ie. 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 www.qualifax.ie.

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 accesscollege.ie
  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. www.susi.ie.

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…..food.
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 www.eatwelltravelfar.weebly.com .
She markets herself on Facebook :https://www.facebook.com/eatwelltravelfarloveoften
Instagram: http://instagram.com/eatwelltravelfarloveoften
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/eattravel/