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Great tips from our Alumni Network information session to help with your career

5 min


The Griffith Alumni Department held an information session at our Dublin campus recently and the audience of Griffith students was lucky enough to get some tips from two of Ireland's most creative business leaders: Jill O'Brien and Heather Dowling.

Jill O'Brien is the founder of The Daily Slog - "a community for all women in the workplace to discuss, debate and take inspiration from the daily challenges" in their careers.

Heather Dowling is the co-founder of DMW Creative - an agency that creates "amazing visitor experiences" and has run events with the likes of Guinness, as well as Richard Branson of Virgin.

Jill O'Brien's tips

Jill O'Brien told the Griffith College alumni network attendees on the night that sometimes even bad jobs can help you in your career. Detailing one particularly bad experience she had in her own career, she said "Sometimes the toughest companies to work for are the best environments to learn." 

On a related nature - Jill said that it's always worthwhile to think about your career progression.  "Always think ahead to the next step – have a 3-5 year plan - so you're always ready when you're called for an interview." Jill said this after she had been working for a company for a couple of years and was called into the office of her boss. Naturally, she thought that something was seriously wrong. However, she quickly established that she was being grilled to see if she'd be able to cope with being invited into the highly coveted Accelerated Development programme. Because Jill had been actively thinking about her career, she aced the “interview” and entered the programme.

1.    Mentorship: Jill said that students and graduates should definitely get a mentor. It doesn’t matter at what stage in your career you are.

2.    Always go for the job even if you don’t think you are 100% qualified. “No one is 100% qualified for a job - you are likely to be part-qualified and the rest will come from your general skills and experience, and the backing of a good manager who understands your skills and drive. This has really stood to me throughout my career. Back yourself to do something that you may not have all the detail on - it will be worth it.”

3.    Take the risk: Jill said this in relation to The Daily Slog. It was something she had been thinking about doing for a long time but she finally decided it was time to take the risk and set up the company. ‘Sometimes you might find yourself overthinking your next move but the reality is you can always go back to what you were doing before. I think you inherently know what is right for you so it’s a lot about trusting your gut on your next move.”

Heather Dowling's tips

Heather, like Jill, is an entrepreneur but also has experience as an employee so was well placed to give relevant advice to the students in attendance. Heather focused on the fact that your career is a journey - and that even when it's tough to get a foot in the door - don't panic because you never know what's around the next corner. That message echoes the central tenets of the Griffith Alumni Department. We aim to support our graduates and students in their networking and connecting efforts, to the really practical stuff like advice on CVs, interview techniques and visas - right through to our mentorship programme. 

Some other tips from Heather include:  

1.    Learn different skills: In Heather's case she concentrated on skills like Photoshop and graphic design but she says that it's always useful to have multiple skills to enhance your profile.

2.    Networking is incredibly important: People confuse networking with asking a favour - which people don't like to do. But you are the person doing the favour if you are good at the job and perform. The benefits of the Griffith Alumni Network really come into play here as it’s the perfect platform to stay connected with people you have met during your time at Griffith, but also to connect with the extended network of Griffith alumni, most of whom are willing to help you out.  

3.    Be confident but not cocky – Heather said that in Ireland, cocky definitely does not go down well but it’s important to show that you feel confident in yourself.

From mentoring to networking support, the Griffith Alumni Department’s goals are to: provide graduating students with the support they need to transition smoothly into life after Griffith; help current students connect with alumni to better prepare themselves for a career; and keep alumni connected.  If you're not a member yet - join us HERE.

Jill O'Brien is the founder of The Daily Slog, as well as a part of the Griffith Alumni Network, and can be found on LinkedIn HERE

Heather Dowling is a co-founder of DMW Creative, as well as a part of the Griffith Alumni Network, and can be found on LinkedIn HERE.