Animal lover Alana Kernan wanted to be a veterinary nurse and took the first step with a post-Leaving Cert (PLC) course in Animal Care at Monaghan Institute, a college of further education.
"It went well," she says, but despite good grades, Alana didn't manage to progress to a degree programme to pursue that passion.
"I was knocking on a door that wasn't opening," says Alana (21) of Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, a former pupil of O'Carolan College, Nobber, Co Meath. She eventually decided that it wasn't to be.
Her love of animals gives a clue to the hands-on type of person she is and, when she spotted a Monaghan Institute ad for an engineering traineeship, her eyes lit up. "I went to an Open Day and I was very intrigued by the work."
The one-year, Level 5 Engineering Technology traineeship combines classroom learning with work experience. It was developed in conjunction with local firm Combilift, a world leader in forklifts, and includes a work placement with the company.
"I have friends who work for Combilift and I asked them about the company, and it was all positive," says Alana. She started last September, one of three females in a class of 16.
It was not such a strange leap from veterinary nursing, as her father is a builder and Alana had done construction studies at school.
"It has been fantastic," she says. When the traineeship ended at the end of May, all those who successfully completed the course, including Alana, got a job offer at Combilift.
Alana is now working in the company's electrical room and sees opportunities for further education and career development.
And she is not missing a career with animals. "A lot of Leaving Cert students stress about one career being the be-all and end-all and that is what I thought about veterinary nursing, but now I'm in a job I love."
The same traineeship is offered in further education colleges in other areas, with links to a local company. In general, if the trainees are not entitled to a grant or social welfare payment then the host employer will pay an allowance.