It’s October already and you are into your 5th week of school, whether it be primary or secondary. You by now should have transitioned from the summer vacation back into the routine of secondary school, learning, books, homework and study. Of these the most challenging is homework and study as no one is making you do it, while the former you are obligated to by your parents / guardians and teachers. So, how do you make homework and study somewhat more enjoyable, structured and worthwhile?

By developing a Study Plan!

A study plan is a one page document in a Word or Excel format (in colour) summarising the seven days of the week and up to 15 hours in each day. Each day is divided into the number of hours you need to spend on each part of the most important areas of your life primarily focused on your education. With respect to homework and study, you divide the plan into 45 minute and 15 minute segments, where 45 minutes is the time period for completing homework and doing study and 15 minutes is the time period for taking a break and letting what you have done in the previous 45 minutes ‘sink-in’ and to feel a sense of accomplishment and reward. We do this for every day i.e. Monday to Sunday.

Daunting I realise and appreciate, but this is only for 8-9 months of the year and it will yield and you will reap great benefits by having this type of plan and discipline during your academic years, especially towards the latter part of your secondary education.

Complete the study plan with a specialist or expert or a parent / guardian so as to make it fair and realistic, yet challenging.

And remember, stick to the plan…!

In Ireland and I guess in most countries, who you know can have a significant influence in achieving your career, academic and personal goals and let no one tell you differently. Yes, many, many people achieve success through their own hard work, dedication and effort, but it does help when you have an inside line, some more information on somebody or something or they know somebody or something all leading to you succeeding or at least helping you get there!

We all know the term or word ‘Networking’! You will agree we do not do it enough. We do not make the effort to meet people who have like-minded interests, who work in our area of expertise, who have achieved in what we want to achieve in.

When it comes to securing a job, people that you know need to know your situation:

  • What job you want
  • Who you would like to work for
  • Where you would like to work
  • Your qualifications
  • Your work experiences

The whole point is that you don’t know who the people you know know without meeting them and sharing your situation and needs.

This meeting needless to say should be a formal meeting (in person), almost like a semi-interview pre-arranged by telephone or e-mail. You will arrive with copies of your CV and clarity on exactly what you want. You will never ask them for a job. If they have one and they feel that there could be a fit, they will say it to you. As they speak to you, write everything down professionally. Remember you don’t know who they know or indeed what they need in their business. Network with at least one person per week and watch the transformation in you and the realisation of your wants, need and likes. People you know need to know you…

For many of you second level (over 16’s) and third level students, you are probably working either locally, nationally or internationally and hopefully making some money to fund your summer with some change for the next academic year. I guess many of the jobs that you are in are not what we say ‘your dream job’ and you can’t wait for the summer to be over, while others are enjoying the experience and getting a lot out of it. The latter is what I’d like to focus on in these short few words.

Do see the job as more than a summer job…you:

  • Are working with business owners, managers, supervisors, work colleagues who are sharing their knowledge and experiences with you
  • Are learning new things i.e. life-long learning known and unknown to yourself that will stand to you some time in the future; today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year and years from now
  • Don’t know who the people you are working with know in their network and how some day in the future you might need them to help you progress or indeed get a job
  • Need to learn all you can, no matter how boring, do more than expected and you will be rewarded for it
  • Should appreciate that you have a job and are able to perform in it
  • Need to accept that the customer / client is king and whatever they say is right
  • Should enjoy it, as future, more permanent jobs may not be as easy, less-responsible and less-accountable as this

Look beyond into the future, this summer job could be one that gets you that all important college place, that gets you that all important interview, that gets you that all important job offer…enjoy the rest of your summer, whatever you are doing…

For those Leaving Certificate’rs out there, well done, it is over and ‘hats off to you’. I hope that your past 5-6 years’ work, slog and sweat has paid off and that you left the examination room each day feeling good saying ‘that was the best I could do’. Most of you are now going on / are on holidays, are on working visa’s or simply taking time out, reflecting on the past 2-3 weeks and hoping that you have done enough to get what you want in your future ideal job / career / profession.

As you all know, there are many ways and means to get to your final destination, some direct and some indirect. Whether you have to go a route that wasn’t what you had planned, know this route and all the options open to you. It may take some extra time (at most a year), but when the destination is clear in your mind and it is a place that you want to go to no matter what, it will happen for you. Like anybody who wants to realise something in life, especially in sport, they will stop at nothing until they achieve it. And most importantly, these people enjoy the journey towards the destination more that the destination itself, making the destination more possible. You just have to want it badly enough and work hard.

So as you wait for mid-August to arrive, look forward to it with positivity, enthusiasm and with a sense of reward. You hope that the calculator adds up the grades / points to the magic figure that you so desire and so do I. If for whatever reason it doesn’t, there are so many options open to you.

But for now, it is all over…!