Saturday 23 September 2017

The important thing for me is that I'm making a difference - and I'm having an impact

Aine O'Halloran (25), Dublin, Originally from Cratloe, Co Clare

Clinical scientist Aine O'Halloran. Photo: Tony Gavin
Clinical scientist Aine O'Halloran. Photo: Tony Gavin

Aine studied microbiology at NUI Galway and now works as a clinical scientist at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.

"I worked in Clonmel after I finished college, in a lab down there for a year and a half. There were only two of us in the lab and it was tough going, but I learned a lot there.

"I decided the job wasn't for me because it didn't have any scope to move up, and I decided the place I could do that was Dublin.

"I felt I was overqualified for what I was doing, and I felt I'd learned everything I was going to from the job, so I moved up to a lab in Dublin, took a chance and I've been promoted twice in two years.

"I'm the youngest scientist in my current role, and that's a huge achievement considering I only have an undergraduate degree. I love my job and it's really challenging. The important thing for me is that I'm making a difference - and I'm having an impact.

"I could do with a better work/life balance, but I feel you have to nearly prove yourself, which can be very hard. I find that I'm absolutely wrecked by Friday evening. It's very difficult because you work so hard, you find yourself burned out and you just want to rest.

"It bothers me big time when I hear people say millennials are lazy or entitled. Financially I've had to work very hard to get where I am. I'm from a farm, and I was part of a HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) scheme going to college because my parents couldn't give me any financial help and I had to work in a bakery for four years part-time during college.

"When I left college, my boss said he'd love to give me a full-time position but he didn't have the hours, so I didn't have that safety net, and I think a lot of people are in that same situation where they either have to stay in full-time education, get a grant and a part-time job to get their foot on the career ladder or accept they'll have to take an unpaid internship.

"At college, we were told if you work in pharmaceuticals, you can expect a starting wage of €40,000, so we all came out expecting that and that just didn't happen. Half of us were shell-shocked, and the other half just said we'll take what we can get.

"At the moment I'm renting a place in Dublin, and I'd love to buy my own place, but I think further education will have to come before buying a house, because I won't get the higher wages without a Masters or a PhD behind me.

"I'd have to do that in the evenings, I couldn't stop work to go back to college, so it'll be tricky."

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