My Career – Where Do I Start?


This newly launched “My Career” section will help get you started on your way to your new and more satisfying career.

If you are unsure about what you want to do or if you are returning to study after a long time, for whatever reason, there is some very useful information in this section on how to deal with this situation and what steps to take.

Click on the below Sections to reveal more information.


Signs that you need to change your job.


If on a Sunday night you get the ‘fear’ of going back to work on a Monday morning and you dread working with the people there, then this is a sure sign that you need a change. If you have this feeling regularly, it is time to really think about what you are doing. Life is too short to stay in a job you are that unhappy in, as it gradually takes its toll on your physical and mental health, which can have a knock-on effect on your personal and family life.

You may be in a job you had to settle on for one reason or another. If you are in a job where you can’t see yourself being able to grow or progress, then it’s time for a change. There are lots of opportunities out there and the option to work from home  is now becoming the preferred way to work and look after your wellbeing if you prefer to work this way. Being stuck in a rut is not good for you. People need to experience some kind of growth, happiness, competence and achievement in their job in order to be truly happy in it.

The people you work with are also important – if you are in a job where you feel put down or not appreciated for your work, then this will gradually start to affect your productivity and have a real impact on your mental health.

If you feel any of the above, then it is definitely time for a re-evaluation of your career and maybe changing career or upskilling, so you can get a better job and feel a lot happier.

What do you really want to do?


Ok, so the fact you are on this website and doing a little research means that you are wondering which career direction you should take, or you are thinking about a career change or just want to upskill for the career you are in. You are probably feeling a little unsettled as you are thinking about completing a course, but not sure which one to choose and no decision has been made.

Don’t worry about this, because there is nothing at all wrong with not knowing what you want to do. It is important to choose the correct career for you, but too much emphasis has been placed on the importance of having a good job from a very young age. A good job in one person’s eyes may be completely different to another person’s idea of a good job. Many people have been forced into jobs they do not like which has an impact on mental health and increases things like stress and anxiety. The most important thing is to find a career that you really like and enjoy.

Many people try out six or seven different careers until they find the one they are happiest in. Having just one lifelong career is becoming a thing of the past so don’t worry if the first career doesn’t work out, there will be many more. You may not find what you truly enjoy until you are in your 40s, 50s or even 60s. Either way, there are no set rules for finding your ideal career. The key is to think about what you really like and the skills you are good at, and then match these to a career which would bring out these attributes.

Whether you are thinking of going back to work after bringing up a family, or were made redundant, or you are long term unemployed or even retired, The Open College is on hand to help you find your perfect career.

No matter what career you choose, our courses are put together in accordance with current labour market information and job trends, so your chances of finding employment following the completion of one of our courses are pretty high.


Tips on deciding what you want to do:

  • Think about what makes you happy – we all want our career to make us happy, so the first thing to do is think about what really makes you happy. Do you like working with people or do you prefer working in peace by yourself. Do you like organising and have an eye for detail or do you prefer the arts. If you dread going into or even talking about your current job, then it’s definitely not making you happy. Although passion for a job is not the only requirement for being happy in your job, it is essential to keep you motivated in the tough times.


  • Think about what you are good at – has anyone ever told you that you are good at something or that you would make a good nurse or manager? Other people’s observations are quite important, as we may not notice these things ourselves. Maybe there is only one part of your current job that you are enjoying, and you can focus on this. If you feel you are interested in a few different careers, have a think about your personality type and skills and match these to the relevant careers. Completing the Career Quiz at the end of this section would really help with this.


  • Rule out what you don’t like – this is a fantastic way of narrowing down your career choice and deciding what you really want to do. You can then develop a list of careers you have a genuine interest in.


  • Think about the courses you have already completed – don’t dismiss any courses you have completed to date. Every course you complete, you are learning new skills which are transferable to the next career, such as communication, team work and planning and organisational skills.


  • Ask other people – asking other people about their jobs is a terrific way of finding out about different careers. If you have narrowed down a few job options, connect with people on LinkedIn who are in similar positions and ask them what the job is like and what it entails. Getting information from people who are already in that line of work may make or break your career decision.


  • Shadow someone – if you have the time and if you find an employer willing to do so, shadow an employee who is doing a job you are interested in, just for a few days. You will see firsthand what the job is really like which will help your decision.


  • Attend networking and career days – find out about any networking events like talks on certain areas or career events. This is an excellent way of meeting people and asking about careers and job opportunities.


  • Try new things – it is important to keep trying new jobs to rule out what you like and dislike. If you don’t like something, just accept it and move on until you find a job you are happy in. It is all perfectly fine.
  • Think about what way you want to work to suit your life style. Do you prefer to be out and about for your job, working in an office or working from home. You also have the option to combine working in the office and working from home so the options are flexible out there.


  • Don’t just settle – if you have been really thinking and searching hard for a better career and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, don’t just give up and settle for something you know will not satisfy you. You may need to continue to work at something you don’t enjoy until you find something you really like, but never give up – remember you never fail, you are always learning!



Please click here to complete the Career Quiz.


Career Break?


If you are unhappy in your job or if you are suffering with burnout, then a career break is what you might need to gain some perspective. A career break is a period of leave from the company which is unpaid, so you really need to consider your financial situation if considering this option. It can range from six months to five years. A lot of people are opting for this option for various reasons. The main reason is to gain new perspective on life by getting out of your usual routine to go travelling, complete a course, look after your family, start a business or just have a break from working.

This in turn, will give you the opportunity to rediscover what you are good at and what motivates you. It gives you time to clear your head and reassess ways you can improve your life. If you are considering a career change, you can use this time to do your research, while not having the added pressures of work. Ask yourself what the main reasons are for a career break – if it’s to get some proper rest and perspective on life, then this is the perfect opportunity to do so. You can even upskill and complete a short course and go back to work even more productive and refreshed. You can also use the opportunity to practice ways of dealing with stress which will benefit every aspect of your life.

Employers are also seeing the benefit of career breaks as it prevents employees from having burnout and helps their career development. The cost to employers is very low as they don’t have to pay wages and other employees can usually cover the position. Plan your career break well in advance and enjoy your time out!

Returning to work after raising a family?


Returning to work after taking years off to raise a family can be quite daunting. Taking time off work can really change your sense of who you are and what you want to do. Having a family is a life changing event, so it is only natural that you also change as a person. Your emotions might be all over the place and you will need to have help and support when returning to the working environment.

You may feel like you won’t fit back into work and that it may take ages to catch up with everything, but please do not fret – these are just worrying thoughts and nothing else. It’s just because you have been away from the workplace for so long that you’re having these doubts. You have not lost any skills, you just need the opportunity to start practicing them again.

If anything, you have gained some new skills by being at home and looking after the children, like problem solving, multitasking, conflict resolution, managing budgets, and time management – all essential skills for any job you are applying for. You need to give yourself a pep talk as you would your children – you can do this! Remember more than 80% of employees are parents so you are certainly not alone!!

Completing a course or two in your area could really help brush up on those skills. Employers will be impressed by you completing a few courses before returning to work, as it shows enthusiasm and proactiveness. The Open College has many courses to choose from and you can also complete a short work placement where you can practice your skills before returning to work. You may want a complete change of career or even start your own business. We have courses in lots of different fields which will help you on your way.

Through our research, a lot of employers have stated that a huge percentage of highly qualified and skilled people go on maternity leave or retire completely to look after their family, but they welcome them back again because they are so enthusiastic and once back in the job a few weeks, there is no difference in their quality of work. This can only be of benefit to the company and other employees. Employers do state however, that it is a good idea to complete a short course or two while off, just so that you don’t feel totally disconnected when you go back. It’s great to keep being proactive and this will also look impressive on your CV.

The level of enthusiasm and commitment is very important to an employer. Skills can always be brushed up on. So please don’t worry about being off for a while. There are so many jobs waiting for you out there. Just brush up on those skills by completing a relevant course and you should find work no problem. Completing some work experience will also help.

Some people find it hard to leave their families so returning to work after maternity leave, can be difficult. You need to decide on the right balance for you – can you go back part time or even work a few days from home? Discuss this with your employer and come to the best solution which suits both of you. You then need to give yourself time to transition back into working life again. There are days where you will feel sad because you miss your family, there will be days when you will be exhausted because you were up all night with a sick child, so you need to be prepared for this, but you will get through it.

Make sure you have your support around you and talk it through with loved ones. If you have a close work colleague, talk to them and maybe get out for short walks to clear your head. Always remember – having a family is life changing, so you need to give yourself time and be kind to yourself.


Some tips:

  • Decide on the right time to return: There is never a ‘right time’ for returning to work and you may just keep putting it off and then not go back at all! Its best to make a plan and stick to it. If you plan to return to work in 6 months’ time – set aside some time to prepare, like completing a short course, getting in touch with people in the field and researching different career opportunities. Try to reconnect with some old work colleagues to help you get back into the work way of thinking and discuss any changes.


  • Make a list of your new skills. Instead of focusing on the gap – sit down and really think about the new skills you have picked up from being a parent and write these down. Now have a think about how these skills would benefit the company you are considering working for. For example – if you have good planning and organising skills, this will benefit a managerial position you are interested in, or if you have good people and caring skills, you would be perfect as a healthcare assistant.


  • Up-skilling – think about what upskilling is needed in the career areas you are interested in and apply for courses and complete these before returning to work. This will really show your commitment to returning to work, as well as providing you with some fresh information for your CV.


  • Job searching – don’t just go online to find work, you need to tailor your job search and keep in touch with old work colleagues and connect with people and organisations through LinkedIn.


  • Your CV – how are you going to explain your gap? This is easy. Avoid being sorry for being out so long and focus on all the skills you have picked up while being a full-time parent.


  • Brush up on interview skills – the more you are prepared, the more successful you will be.


  • References – ask two trustworthy people if you can use them as your referees.


  • Think about your working hours – do you want to work full time or part time? Do you want to work from home or work four instead of five days? Have a really good think about this and decide which option is best for you. A lot of people are more productive at home and others more so at work. You may be able to combine both working from home and working in the office a few days per week.


  • Think about work/life balance – how are you going to juggle work and childcare – you need to put plans in place for suitable childcare and family time.


Please click here for a full list of our QQI courses to help you with your upskilling.




Retirement is an exciting part of life which people should look forward to. However, everyone is different and one may use the opportunity to study further, go back to work or even open their own business. Some people find that they need a little more income to sustain the lifestyle they want, and others are just bored and want to do something more or may miss social contact or the mental and social benefits of working.

Going back to work does not mean that you must go back to your old job, it’s a chance to think about what you really enjoy doing. Our older population are a lot fitter and healthier and plan to work well into the traditional retirement years. Whatever the reason, The Open College can help you choose a course which can help you upskill and find a job that suits your needs.

If you have retired and are thinking about returning to work, refreshing and upskilling is an excellent first step. However, you may have doubts about being able to understand course notes and completing assignments. The good news is, that the mature student has many advantages over the younger students. First, they have made the decision on their own to return to study, so they will naturally put more effort into their course, they also handle stress and pressures better.


Study tips:

  • Find people around the same age who have retired and who are interested in further study. You can help and motivate one another.
  • Age is also an asset – you are already skilled at time management, planning, organising and communication skills – this will really help with your studies.
  • Get your friends and family involved – tell your loved ones that you are completing a course and ask for their help and support if needed. They will also help motivate you.
  • Remember why you are doing your course – if you need to relieve boredom and improve your mental capacity or if you just want to get back into the workforce, always remember the real reason you are doing the course, and this should help in the tough times.
  • Relax and enjoy yourself – once you get into study again you will really enjoy it. Once you get that first assignment completed, the rest won’t be as difficult.


Job search tips:

  • Upskill all the way – think about what you are interested in and complete a course in that area. This is a great way to start your new plan. It is required that you complete a work placement for most of our courses, which is a fantastic way to gain some practical skills and find out what the job is really like. Please click here to view our full range of programmes.


  • Plan to have a satisfying life – this means before opting for on a full-time job again, decide if it would it be better to work part time hours and still have time for your hobbies? Will you be happy in a workplace that is almost all young people? Are you confident enough to make friends and work with big teams? Are you happy with a less well-paid job? These are questions you must ask yourself and there are no right or wrong answers, just the answers which make you happiest.


  • Preparation – do your research on the jobs that you are interested in. Are there a lot of jobs in your area or will you need to travel? Is there the option of working from home or would you prefer the social interaction? What skills can you offer and how can you show the employer that you are proactive and enthusiastic.


  • Gather information on the companies you are interested in and connect with people on LinkedIn to find out about the work.


  • Emphasise your transferable skills – while you may need to upskill with some skills relevant to the job, there will always be skills that you are already excellent at, such as communication skills, planning and organising, time management, and trustworthiness.


  • Seek expert advice and have your CV updated – If you register with The Open College, you will have access to sample CVs.


  • Brush up on interview skills – it may be some time since you had an interview, so start preparing and practicing those interview questions. Have a look at the interviews section for more information and tips on interview skills. Attend a few not so important interviews first – this is great for practice.


  • Volunteer with a charity – this is an excellent way of being proactive and keeping your skills alive and will look great on your CV and at interview. It gets you out of the house and assists that social interaction you need. Staying in the house all the time is not a good idea and is not good for your mental state. Even if you keep getting rejected for jobs, you will still have your volunteer work to do. It may lead to employment with the company if they are seeking your particular experience. It is also easier to find work while volunteering as you are in a better mindset.


  • Register with recruitment agencies who offer part-time, temporary, and seasonal jobs.


  • Have patience – if you keep getting rejected, don’t give up. Remember, you never fail, only learn. So, keep going until you find something you are happy in.


  • Ask for help and support – ask a friend or family to help you with your course or job search. There is nothing at all wrong with this. The staff at The Open College are only too happy to help with any queries or issues you may have.


Returning after a long absence (Travelling/Illness)?


Returning to work after travelling or taking a gap year will more than likely lead to a straightforward job application process. Most employers will be glad these absences are out of the way, so the applicant can be more focused on the job at hand.

If, however, you have been off due to an illness, you may question your career and want something completely different. Being away from work can change your sense of who you are, particularly if you have been ill. If you were working in the I.T sector, you may now want to work in the caring field.

You may want to work part time instead or full time or even work from home. Whatever you decide, the best place to start is to complete a course to refresh or upskill your knowledge and experience. It helps with the confidence and motivation you need to get back into working again.

Completing a course with work placement included has the added advantage of gaining some practical experience which is what employers are looking for. When you feel ready and able, research our different courses and categories. There is sure to be one that suits your needs.

Please click here to view our full range of programmes.




If you have been unemployed for a long time it can make you feel unmotivated and you may be stuck in a rut. Not having a routine, sleeping more than normal and not getting out as much for social interaction, can all influence your mental health. Spending more at home, starts you overthink things which may result in a low mood and lack of confidence. The good news is that unemployment has dropped considerably within the past few years and jobs are plentiful out there. The first step you should take is to really think about what you want to do.

If you want to go back into the same field you were in, or if you want to try a brand-new career, The Open College have many exciting courses to choose from to get you back into work again. It is a great idea to complete a course in the area you are interested in before getting back into work full time. This increases confidence and motivation and you can start applying for work when you feel you are ready.

Please click here to view our full range of programmes

One of the main concerns of students is about the transition back into employment. They worry how they are going to handle full time hours again and get along with large teams and organisations. There is no need to panic here and as previously said, completing a course with us which includes work placement, is a great first step when preparing for a full-time job as it gives you some practical experience, so you won’t feel as nervous. Our friendly staff are always on hand to deal with any issues or concerns you may have.

Some Tips:

  • Get enough rest – If you have been unemployed for a while, your sleeping patterns are probably all over the place, so it’s important to go to bed at a reasonable hour and get enough rest. If you have a family, try to go to bed not long after you get them to bed to catch up on rest. Get up at the same time each morning and once you get back into this routine, you will start to sleep a lot better and feel more refreshed in the morning.


  • Avoid anxiety and stress – Start the job with an open mind and try to feel excited about it. The employer is impressed by you and wants you to join their team, so feel very proud of that.


  • Try to fit in – Introduce yourself to as many people as possible Try to find out who the key workers are and try to connect with them. Let them know that you are excited about the job but do not talk too much about your personal life or past work experience. They are your co-workers not your friends.


  • Sort out your work attire – Pay attention to what people wear in the organisation and wear similar clothes. Get these all organised before you start the job. Find materials that are not easily creased and wash well to save you time. Always have your outfit ready the night before, so you don’t have to worry about this in the morning.


  • Take care of your mind and body – There will be set times for breaks at work – make sure to take them all. Your mind and body need it! Eat healthy and drink lots of water to keep hydrated. The mind is sharper when hydrated. Take it at a steady pace, but don’t get carried away and work lots of overtime to try to impress the boss. If you get sick and have to take time off, you are not impressing anyone!


  • Get ready for some challenging work – If you have not been working for a while, the early starts, the deadlines, targets, tackling rush hour may cause anxiety. You need to take care of yourself by setting time aside for relaxation, eating healthy, getting some sleep, and getting some regular exercise.


  • Check your expectations – As already stated, it is important to start the job with an open mind. If you were unhappy in your previous job or didn’t get along with work colleagues or your boss, you need to leave this in the past and expect this job to be different. Taking these negative thoughts with you has an effect on the way you behave and interact with people, so acknowledge the negative thoughts and just let them go.


  • Have support – Make sure you can talk to someone if you feel under pressure. Practicing meditation and mindfulness is extremely helpful and keep a diary so you can write everything down which helps clear your mind.


  • Leave the job at the office – Once you walk out the door in the evening, leave the work there. Try not to bring the stressors of work back with you and focus instead on your family and having some relaxing time. 

Made Redundant?


Lots of people are let go from their jobs for one reason or another. Through no fault of their own, a company restructures and makes redundancies for the benefit of the business. The individuals involved are let go which is often unfair. If the redundancy is unexpected it can be devastating, and people often feel betrayed by the company. It is up to the individual to pick up the pieces and look after themselves. Lots of reflection takes place following redundancy and the individual may decide to take a career break or start looking into a new career.

The best thing to do is accept what has happened and move on. Talk to people you trust and make sure you have some good support around you. The worst thing you can do is bottle everything up and refuse to admit how bad you are feeling. Try to go to bed at a reasonable hour and get up early – don’t fall into the trap of sleeping all day, find things to keep you positive and plan what you want to do.


Some Tips:

  • Don’t sit around – The worst thing you can do is stay at home all the time and think about what has happened. Redundancy is a shock but don’t get stuck in a rut. Start planning what you intend to do next – a new course, a new job, or travel and then start making arrangements.


  • Be flexible – You need to have an open mind when it comes to job searching. Apply for part time and temporary contracts until you find the right one.


  • Be proactive – Research courses you can complete to upskill and keep motivated. Find a course that includes work placement, so you will gain some practical experience also.


  • Sort out your CV – Make a list of your skills and match these skills to as many roles as possible. Tailor your CV to each job. Also practice your interview questions.


  • Look after yourself – Make sure to take some time to relax and enjoy your hobbies! Practice mindfulness and meditation and get out with your friends. Eat healthy and get some exercise.


Think about retraining –

If you are considering another career or simply want to upskill, The Open College has plenty of courses to choose from which can be completed at home at your leisure. Completing a course can take your mind off things and can make you feel more motivated.

A lot of our past students who were made redundant, but completed one of our courses, said it was one of the best things they did as it kept them busy and the work placement got them back into a routine.

Please have a look at the link below for a full list of our courses. If you are interested in any of them, please give our office a call and our friendly staff will be on hand to answer any queries you may have.

School Leaver?


If you are looking for some training outside of the CAO system, then The Open College is the place to be. Gone are the days when you had to rely on the Leaving cert to get into college.  Even if you have completed your leaving cert and completed a course which didn’t work out, please don’t worry. You will go through many career changes  in life and this is completely normal. Through completing one of our QQI Levels 5 or 6 Major Award programmes, you can go straight into employment or apply for a higher-level course at university.

We understand that it can be quite daunting trying to figure out what exactly it is you want to do. A good place to start would be to complete our skills audit and careers quiz which will give you some career suggestions.

You can then read about the courses which match your career suggestions. The beauty about our courses is that you complete a work placement with an employer, so you pick up some invaluable work experience. This will look great on your CV and show a potential employer that you are proactive. A lot of school leavers are worried about work experience, but this will not be an issue once you complete one of our courses. Our friendly staff are always on hand to deal with any queries or issues you may have.

We offer a wide variety of QQI accredited courses in the following areas:

An effective way to start researching career areas is to complete the career quiz at the end of this section, which makes some suggestions as to what career areas you would be most suited to.

Once you narrow down which career fields suit your skills and attributes, have a look at the corresponding courses that we offer.

Give us a call and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have and set a course up for you.

You get to complete most of our courses at home by distance learning, so you can complete them at your own leisure. You are also assigned a dedicated course tutor who is always there to deal with any queries about the course content and assignments.

Please click on the Course Category Links above for more information.


If you lose your Job?


Being let go from your job for whatever reason, can be quite distressing. You may be angry for a while until the dust settles and then start panicking about your next job. Make sure to talk to loved ones and do not keep everything bottled up. Keep yourself healthy by eating well and getting some exercise.

Lots of people worry so much about what they will say at interview, but there really is no need to panic. Employers know that a certain percentage of candidates have been fired from their job. You need to know how to handle it in a positive way and not dwell or talk negatively about anything.
Prepare you story carefully. You do not have to give a long drawn out explanation about the ins and outs of the situation, a short and upbeat version is best.

Maybe your job was moved to another location, maybe the company was restructuring, or the skills you thought the company needed were completely different to the skills you are good at, which led to a breakdown in communication. End your story with a positive – say something like although you were let go, you learned a lot from the job and made some good friends. Make sure your story will be backed up by any references you plan to use from the company.

Make sure your CV and LinkedIn profile are updated which will kick start your efforts. Keep applying and connecting with people who you think may help. Employers are looking for people who best fit their job description, so do not get discouraged if you only get one or two interviews in two months, just keep going and you will be successful. Surround yourself with positive people and think about all the achievements you’ve had in the past – this will help with confidence and motivation.


Where do I go from here?

You need to decide if you are happy where you are or if you would like a change. The fact that you are on this website is proof that you must be a little unhappy and looking for a change or are just curious. Have a think about what you really enjoy doing. Did anyone ever tell you that you would be good at something? Is there something you always wanted to do but life just got in the way and you didn’t have the time to do something about it?

The Open College offers a wide variety courses in many different areas. The labour market is flourishing at the moment with many more jobs on offer. We have put together our courses in accordance with market demand, so no matter which course you choose, you will be in with a high chance of obtaining employment or continuing with another course at a higher level.

We pride ourselves in helping and supporting our students from start to finish and we also offer continuous support when your course is finished. If you become a registered student, you will gain access to a wealth of career guidance information.

You will get advice on how to write an impressive CV and cover letter with samples, the importance of having an online presence, the recruitment process, options for people who have been unemployed, been made redundant, raised a family etc. Even if you have retired, you may decide to upskill or open your own part time business.

The Open College has courses to suit everyone, no matter what stage of life you are in.

Please click here for some ideas on course options to kick start your journey to your perfect career!