Right now, it may seem as though the Leaving Cert is the most important exam of your life and that the results will define your career. However, you will soon realise this perception couldn’t be further from reality! Whether you got the results you needed or not, it is your ambition that will get you where you want to be.
I asked FRS Recruiters what they wish they knew then and how important a Leaving Cert is for their sectors:
What to do if you score poorly- Do you need to repeat?
‘I know there will be a lot of students disappointed not to get the points to study Medicine. It is an onerous task to achieve such high scores. My advice would be that it is still possible. So many of the Doctors that I recruit have done another degree first and then gone into Graduate Entry Medicine. I have seen people with degrees from Art to X-ray and everything in between. Another popular option is to study in central Europe. Most careers are the same, there is always a back door. Don’t be disheartened, this is only the beginning of your journey!’ Emma Fenton – Doctors Team
‘The most important thing to remember is that there is more than one route to all employment. A BA plus post grad qualification could be another route to becoming a teacher. A science degree and GEMS (graduate entry medical school in UL) is another route to medicine. If you have no clear idea of what you want to do, a year working can focus your thoughts and expose you to different careers. Don't panic! your life and your happiness will not be defined by this exam. If you don't get the course you want in Ireland it is also possible to study through English in other EU countries.’ Eithne Vaughan Witts – Healthcare & Medical
‘Repeating your Leaving Cert depends if you have your heart set on a career that needs a certain amount of points. Only you can answer that question, but from my experience if you want a role and you have passion and commitment, what is for you won’t pass you by.' Leona Fawl - Head of Commercial Division
Would you recommend a PLC course before starting a degree?
‘If you’re confused or in two minds about what you want to study, definitely do a PLC or take a gap year in order to give yourself time. You’re very young and naive after finishing school and you will grow and evolve with age and your wants and needs change as the years go on. I wouldn’t recommend applying to a course you’re unsure of because you’ll likely end up dropping out!' Chloe Hos - Nursing Division
Would you recommend doing a gap year or gaining real life work experience.
‘If you feel it’s right for you, do it. The most important thing is if you know what you want, doors will open. Don’t worry if you don’t know right now, as there is fun in finding out along the way. You have a life of work and most people change careers a number of times before finding what makes them whole. Never turn down an opportunity to work, whether it’s in a field of interest or not, there is always learning to be had. Most people fall into employment, not for having the skill of the job but having the skill to interact with peers. The more practice you have the better.’ Leona Fawl - Head of Commercial Division
Which is more valuable, work experience or a degree?
'It is all dependent on the job, some jobs cannot be done without experience and more can’t be done without a degree. Work experience is always the difference between a grad getting a job or being left on the shelf. Having a positive work ethic and non-academic references always win over clients!' Miriam O'Hara- Construction
'In my sector, pharmacies, it is degrees and masters all the way. Even to be a technician, you must have a recognised qualification. However some pharmacies will take a candidate on as an OTC (Retail Assistant) and they can do the Technician qualification through the pharmacy.
In retail sector it is both, but often work experience can be more important than the qualification unless it specifies.' Brian Mahon - Pharmacy & Retail
The Leaving Cert, is it the be all or end all?
‘Remember the Leaving Cert Result Day is only one milestone of your life. It will be the beginning of a great future. Even if you did not get the right points for your preferred course, it will open windows of opportunity for you. You may end up studying something different. Whatever you study, there will always be time to study something different in the future. There has never been a better time to do different post grad courses and further education. Life is about continuous learning and reinventing yourself and your career. I should know, I did!' Brian Mahon - Retail and Pharmacy
‘The leaving cert is seen to be the pinnacle of your young adult life. To determine your career and your life a good score is the key or is it? The financial times has reported that on average those born after 2001 will have five careers or more. Life is a series of steps and stages and the Leaving Cert is one that will help you start off your young adult life. Listen to yourself, don’t listen to what others will suggest as you are the creator of your own destiny. Whether it is a year out, a temp job, a PLC or a degree, the only person you should listen to is yourself. There is no such thing as a bad option as all will benefit you in the long run. Everyone will have their own challenges and nothing will be easy. Looking back after doing my own leaving cert 14 years ago not listening wholly to myself at the time. I have completed a cert, two degrees and a Masters. None have been a waste. I have learned from every single step and keep on developing as the years go on.' Miriam O’Hara- Construction
Still unsure what to do? Temping is a perfect way to try different things and challenge your different skills. Check out our temping roles here.