Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

Career Guidance Counsellors should try #WINHAPPY

February 25, 2019

Left or right

It was reported last week on Valentine’s Day by the Higher Education Authority that a number of Irish third-level courses have up to 80% drop-out rates.

The fact that there is a worrying percentage of students failing to complete their course naturally raises questions of student decision-making, and the level of advice and guidance they may be accessing in making informed decisions on their futures. The issue of the quality of career guidance in schools is suggested as a potential significant factor in this process.

This brought me back to when I was choosing my subjects for my Leaving Cert.

I met with my guidance counsellor in school and told her proudly I was going to be a journalist. I was expecting a response of “what a creative and exciting career, young Miss Jordan- go for it. Do what makes you happy.

Instead I was met a condescending answer of needing to follow a more “structured” and “safe” career path. “Study science and business studies for your leaving Cert, Miss Jordan,” she told me, “make sure you can get a job after college, work isn’t’ supposed to be exciting Miss Jordan. It is a job.”

My 15 year old self left that office deflated and picked subjects that were “safe, reliable and structured” for my Leaving Certificate. I then followed the same path by choosing to study Economics and Politics for my degree.

I am very much a case study of someone who is right-brained. If my creative muscles are not stretched or challenged it actually affects my mental health.

You can imagine how much I loved studying Economics!!

I thought college was supposed to be the time when young minds are challenged to question how the world works, and figure out how to make it better. Economics does that for many, it did not do it for me. While I did not drop out of college, it was certainly a struggle at times.

When I finished my degree I decided to pursue my 15-year-old self’s dream.

I would be a reporter. And I was. I worked for local newspapers in the west before moving to the “Big Smoke” to work for national titles.

I then discovered just how creative PR and communications can be, and worked for a number of International Aid organisations.

The experience gave me the opportunity to report on the biggest international crises of the past five years.

I reported on Ebola, as it happened, from West Africa. I travelled to the Syrian border, Jordan and Turkey to report on the Syria and refugee crises.  

I met with girls who had been abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and I travelled to famine-stricken and war-torn South Sudan to tell the stories of displaced families.

Ciara Jordan

I think my fifteen year old self would be proud. I’m not so sure about the career guidance counsellor. There was very little about my career that was “safe and structured”.

When I met Greg and Deirdre, the principals of Fuzion Communications, where I recently joined as Account Director, they told me about their #WinHappy philosophy.

Here is that philosophy in a nutshell: work should not be something you dread, it should be something you are proud of. When you go home on Friday, you should feel like you have done something that was challenging and made you happy. Work might be hard, and it won’t always be plain sailing but you have still done worthwhile work.

It was like Fuzion was talking to my 15 year old self!

Perhaps the #WinHappy philosophy should be shared with Guidance Counsellors nationwide?

Perhaps then we would see a decrease in drop-out figures, along with an unprecedented rise in job satisfaction.

Ciara Jordan - Fuzion CommunicationsCiara

Ciara Jordan is an Account Director with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency who provide Marketing, PR and Graphic Design Services from offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland.

Note re image above: Ciara, reporting from an observation and Interim Care Centre (OICC) in Sierra Leon, where children who have been affected by Ebola, or who have come into contact with somebody with Ebola were observed and cared for.

 

Positive Vibes Only…

February 8, 2019

The INternStarting a new job can be daunting, especially as an intern!

You are at the bottom of the food chain, or so they say, but here, that is most certainly NOT the case.

First week. New faces. New names. Is there anything more frightening? (Well apart from snakes and spiders and birds – weird, I know!).

From the moment I walked in the door, I’ve never had a warmer welcome. Greeted by a beautiful, smiling face, I already feel like part of the team.

The first thing I was told was that Fuzion is ONE BIG TEAM.

Even though there are two offices at two different ends of the country, Dublin and Cork, “How is this going to work? Cork is so far away” were the first thoughts that popped into my head.

However, this thought was quickly wiped away when I received a call from EVERYONE in the Cork office. Yes, I most certainly feel like part of this team (well family) now.

How lovely would it be if every company treated their employees this way? Wouldn’t we all be so much happier in our jobs and happier in ourselves for that matter?

Our work is acknowledged on a regular basis- and honestly, there is nothing nicer than to hear that you’re doing a great job!

You feel valued.

When you are valued and appreciated, it automatically reflects in the work that you do, and when this is acknowledged, there honestly is no better feeling!

Having colleagues who are so passionate about what they do, really drives and motivates you to grow and learn so much more, as an individual and as part of the team.

Even though I am (technically) bottom of the food chain here, I do not feel that way at all.

Being treated as an equal, I believe, is the most important thing about having a successful team and having that special bond, that not a lot of companies have.

So here’s to all of the positive vibes only!

Abigail 

Abigail Shaw is a PR Intern with Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Value of “The Silver Lining”

January 16, 2019

January Blues

So here we are, mid January, 2019.

A coat of grey clouds, perpetually looms above, we get up – it’s dark, we go home – it’s dark.

The twinkle of the festive season has left the lining of the streets and we are left with that slight vacant feeling within. This grim outlook can affect the mood of many of us at this time of year, however, for some, it can seem worse than others.

A relatively small example of this, I experienced myself just this morning. I looked in the mirror as I got ready for the day and while combing my hair, I notice something different – a long silvery line protruding up and out of my scalp and running down between the bristles of my brush..

..The first grey hair of my late twenties!!

Almost instantly, I saw my youth flashing before my eyes – as if it were now a thing of the past. It’s all over.

On my commute to work, I gaze out the train window and the SpotifyRelaxing Deep House” playlist is in full rhythm and I see the shimmery light pink hue of morning sunlight peering through the clouds in the distance and I think to myself, “Things might not be so bad today”.

It’s amazing how even a little ray of light can change your perspective in an instant.

I began thinking about how I can add this “light” to my grey hair dilemma. Ageing isn’t all about lost youth – it means maturing, developing, understanding and ultimately knowing better.

I was fortunate enough to have had the most amazing time in my early twenties, graduating from University and joining one of the world’s best airlines as cabin crew. I was paid to travel the world, staying in five star luxury hotels along the way.

I had the chance to experience life to the fullest, jumping off cliffs and hang gliding over Rio de Janeiro, diving with sharks in South Africa, climbing The Great Wall of China and everything in between.

I did and saw it all. and not to sound ungrateful for these experiences – but it is a lot to leave behind!

I began thinking about all that I have learned from these experiences and how they have shaped my growth, increased my cultural awareness, communication skills, empathy, understanding and patience levels (a solid requirement for any airline employee is to know the value of patience!).  

All of this deep thought really allowed me to see “The Silver Lining” in my new silver line of hair.

This new stripe is a reminder of hard work, late nights, long hours and lessons learned. It also highlights a new chapter of maturity and progression.

I made the choice to return to Ireland, to pursue my career as a PR and marketing professional, something which I had always wanted to do.   

Furthermore, this got me thinking about “reactions” and how often at times, we can be quick to formulate an immediate negative response to the unexpected. An initial reaction can be an exacerbated version of how one would usually react, given the time to digest or dwell on the information presented.

This is something we all should practice – when life throws us a curve-ball, which it often does, take a deep breath, reflect and turn your attention to finding the silver lining as there is always positive to come from negative.

Keeping a positive outlook is important for general life as well as in business when the unexpected occurs.

A first step or an approach could be taking a look at the core values and assets that you have,  pausing and thinking about how you can utilise these to your advantage and to create more positive awareness for your personal situation or brand.

This can open new areas of possibility, which may not have come to light had the unexpected not occurred.

Ultimately, knowing the existence, value and importance of a “The Silver Lining” is what will help shine through on these dark January days, when it may seem the clouds will never shift – but just like with the seasons, there will always be new light.

Suzanne

Suzanne Meade is a PR Account Executive with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency with offices in Dublin and Cork

Gina London – The Message is clear: Soft skills are a critical part of success

September 3, 2017

Back to school

It’s back to school time for the kids!

While we prepare to deal with the school-run surge in morning traffic, my daughter Lulu and the rest of Ireland’s students are (blessedly) preparing to sling on their book bags again.

Which reminds me, I spoke last Tuesday to a high level group of HR directors from an assortment of top tech companies.

Why do these professionals remind me of schoolchildren? – because we grown-up employees have a lot in common with not-yet-grown-up pupils!

The HR directors shared some of the biggest issues employees say they’re facing.

Top concerns centered around well-being and communications. They’re connected – and they’re issues children face as well.

When I lived in Italy, Lulu went to Aliotti, the most progressive primary school in town.

There, under the guidance of director Donata Baroni and English instructor Pavlina Checcacci, students are taught so-called ‘soft-skills’ alongside other subjects as part of core curriculum.

You can’t teach only knowledge anymore,” Pavlina says. “Twenty years ago, you went to university and studied a subject like engineering. The methodologies didn’t change for about every 10 years. Now it’s every five years. So, when you get out of school, what you learned is already out of date. Today, we need people who can communicate. That makes the difference.

If two people have the same amount of knowledge, yet one also has soft skills and the other one does not, the difference in their success is significant. Your success in business starts in primary school,” Pavlina says.

Likewise, here in Ireland, John Doran, guidance counsellor at Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge, is championing his own approach called ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘, which, he says, “encourages students to adopt a growth mindset and to communicate with confidence“. It is currently being taught in 120 schools in Ireland and Europe. “If we don’t consciously teach young people to communicate, find their voice and create a literacy around emotional intelligence, we may end up with a generation in a fast-changing world that is unemployed, under-employed, or unemployable” John states.

Here in the business world, it’s high time to get serious about soft skills.

They’re not soft, they’re critical!

Let’s compare some student approaches to what we can do in our own professional lives:

1 Learn to give and receive constructive feedback

Here’s an example from Aliotti: Each child draws a picture. The artwork is put up on the wall. Each child is given a Post-it note and instructed to write one thing they like about the picture, one suggestion of what to do differently next time and then another thing they like.  The classic “compliment sandwich”.

At an early age and with a distinct twist, the children aren’t allowed to simply write something they “don’t like” in the middle. They must frame the criticism as a suggestion for the future.

Each artist reads the feedback aloud and thanks the writers.

This approach is structured and it’s a big deal – Imagine how more effective our business meeting debriefs would be if we had all learned, as children, how to organise our thoughts this way.

Productivity would surely increase if we spent less time getting personally offended and defensive from feedback. Learning not to punish the past but empower the future is a trademark of effective communicators.

2 Learn to work in groups

The HR directors who gathered at McKesson Cork’s remodelled offices, checked out the new “collaboration pods” – designed to get employees away from individual work stations and come together as teams.

More and more firms are updating work environments this way.

Similarly, John’s ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘ programme encourages group sharing for his students and Aliotti’s Pavlina says they’re committed to stop requiring children to work quietly alone.

When in your life will you sit in a room of 30 adults and not take opportunities to discuss things? We can’t prepare kids for a reality that doesn’t exist.”

3 Learn to be kind to others and yourself

Studies show the number one factor in team effectiveness is emotional sensitivity to the others.

Learning empathy is key because effective teams make sure everyone speaks and contributes to get a lot of ideas on the table and build consensus around the best idea.

‘Ways to Wellbeing’, stresses techniques to help develop more positive and constructive relationships. “We help them change their emotional state from one of fear and anxiety to one of effort and application” says John.

4 Learn how to learn from your mistakes

Aliotti concentrates less on grades and more on the process of problem-solving.

Pavlina puts it this way: “Life is all about the mistakes and errors and learning from them. So, we don’t just correct tests, we ask questions like ‘What did you do? Why did you do that? What can you do differently next time?’

We find the child who gets perfect grades and never makes mistakes may actually have difficulty as they get older. Children who learn how to try again and again may have an advantage.

Top university business schools like Stanford and Harvard are also adding highly interactive classes and exercises to develop these types of people to people skills. Your place of employment can introduce them too. After all, we’re all students in this school called life.

It’s time to learn soft!

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

My Crash Course in PR, Marketing and Design

March 17, 2017

Work experience

As my two favourite subjects in school are business and art I had a bright idea to apply to a marketing company for my weeks work experience. I was delighted to see that Fuzion Communications accepted my proposal to follow the employees around for 4 days!

I expected to be photocopying, filing and making coffee, which of course I wouldn’t have minded doing, but to my pleasant surprise it was the opposite. I was being asked did I want coffee and tea!

My time in both the PR department and the design department were both equally enjoyable.

In the PR department I learned a lot about using social media and not just newspapers to advertise businesses. Also, how not only is the article important, but the headline and the photographs are equally vital to grasp the reader’s attention.

On the Wednesday, Saidhbh, one of the PR team kindly let me shadow her on one of her trips out to take pictures for their social media posts. It was extremely interesting to see the ins and outs of PR and its not easy!

From my observation humour and sarcasm are the most prominent features in the design department, along with skill of course!

They know the computer keyboard like the back of their hand, they can also make a picture taken by a two year old look like a Caravaggio painting. The Photoshop tutorials were one of my favourite activities of the week.

Although I wouldn’t have the best IT background, with help from instructions and annoying Jonathan, the head of the design department with many questions, I wasn’t as shocking as I thought I would be at them.

I can safely say that this was much better than going back to my old primary school and looking after screaming children for a week even though that was also very eventful.

My experience here was great and much appreciated.

Kate D'ArcyKate

Kate D’Arcy, Transition Year Student

Twitter: @katedarcy1469

Well done to the very enthusiastic and lovely Kate who was a pleasure to have in the office for the week and a credit to her parents and her teachers. She rose to the challenge of writing a blog post that I put to her.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service national agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Cumulus Clouds and First Women.

August 4, 2016

Aer Lingus - Captain Grainne Cronin

I was having a super meeting with a new client last week, you know those round table moments when everyone is on the same page and all getting excited about the strategy and the jobs to be done to bring this to life.

We started discussing “Leaning In” and progressed to the first Aer Lingus female pilot. I recalled a conversation long ago with my Dad, who trained Aer Lingus pilots. Avoiding answering the question about what I had achieved in school that day, I pushed back to Dad and enquired what had he achieved?

He started talking about how he was training the first Aer Lingus female pilot, and that they had been working in the Simulator that day. Months later I saw a shot on the front of the paper (her first flight was in January, 1978) of Captain Grainne Cronin, sitting in the cockpit proudly, after receiving her wings. (the pic above was a retirement pic in 2010 after 33 years as a pilot)

I headed off to chat to Dad; “Was that the same girl that he was in the Simulator with?” “Yes”, he replied “ and what is going to make her so great is that she saw beyond the Cumulus clouds and really worked hard to achieve her goal. Sometimes when you are a woman you have to push yourself even more to grab hold of your dreams”.

Because of Captain Cronin’s dream and hard work breaking the mould, many other women were empowered to follow their dreams, and Aer Lingus now employs more female pilots that the global average of around 10%.

So let us ladies take a moment and celebrate the ‘first women’, those who break new ground and make the rest of us realise that we can go as far as our capabilities allow: Presidential Nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Mary Robinson, Attorney General Maire Whelan and Chief Justice Susan Denham.

Ladies and Gentleman fasten your seat belts we are going through the Cumulus clouds, Have a safe flight!

Aisling White - FuzionAisling White 

Aisling White is an Account Director with Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design based in our office in Dublin, Ireland

Teamwork – Are we in this together?

September 14, 2015

Volunteers in Brooklyn after hurricane

It’s Saturday morning and I totally admit that we are slightly hungover and very tired after a fantastic party the night before in the office to celebrate our Fuzion 15th birthday.

Despite the torrential rain we had a great turnout of friends, clients, media and of course our team. The banter and fun was in full swing and a few of us headed to Brick Lane for a few more drinks and even a boogie or ten! Slices of pizza at Fast Al’s was a must before dragging our tired bodies home in a taxi at 3am ….you are only 15 once after all!

Unfortunately someone had to head to the office so that the audio visual crew and the caterers could collect their respective gear and then face into the big ‘tidy up‘ to transform our space back into an office.

My head was sore and I promise you I was not looking forward to this arduous, painful task but it had to be done and as it was a Saturday it was Deirdre and I who had to do it. Of course we would love help, of course we would love a few extra hands to lessen the load but it is Saturday and the team are off so we wouldn’t ask.

As ‘owners’ isn’t that what you do?

We parked up and dragged our bodies slowly to the office and then something incredible happened.

Aoibhinn, one of the senior members of the team was already there with her young son Noah and she was in full swing with the tidy up. That one set of extra hands, that willingness and that powerful gesture of taking ownership felt like 100 extra hands and it just blew both of us away and we had the job done in no time.

We own the business and we have a great team in Dublin and Cork that work hard with us from Monday to Friday. For 15 years we have worked really hard to build a good team spirit but its moments like this when someone takes ownership and does the unexpected that you feel you have a real team and you are actually in this together.

It felt good ..thank you Aoibhinn

PS – Knowing Aoibhinn she will hate me writing this!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design with offices in Cork and Dublin 

 

 

What’s your dream job?

September 5, 2015

Tour de Munster 2015

With the Leaving Cert results having been released in the past couple of weeks, and the CAO panic setting in, I got thinking of when I was at that stage. Even though you’re only 17 or 18 years old, you’re asked to decide on your career path.. which begs the question- what is your dream job?

The recurring theme in most people’s answers to this will be that their job must have meaning and one that will give you the lovely feeling of making a positive impact on the world around you. I know that in my case, my dream job conveys the values I hold dear in my personal life, while also highlighting my strongest skills. By following my passions, I fell into the perfect career path- to all students, I’d definitely recommend taking this approach!

Having worked in the food industry for so long, and coming from a big family, I’ve always loved the aspect of human interaction at work, and PR delivers that in abundance!

The job satisfaction in PR and Marketing is great, problem solving and engaging with an array of people every day. The swift pace and constant engagement with others is what I loved most about working in the food industry, and I’ve found the same buzz from PR. Seeing success from a PR campaign that you have been a significant part of, or when an event runs perfectly, is a brilliant feeling, one that you just can’t beat.

Not only this, but PR allows you to work with causes and initiatives that you really value. At the start of August, the Tour de Munster took place, with the final, steep leg taking place on Patrick’s Hill. Over 100 amateur cyclists cycled approximately 600 km in just four days, with all funds going directly to the Munster branches of Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI), with the Tour having raised almost €1.5 million in the past six years for the charity.

Tour de Munster 2015

Sean Kelly pictured at the end of the 2015 Tour de Munster cycle on Patrick’s Hill, Cork.

I was already familiar with the Tour de Munster, as my dad and sister had taken part in the charity cycle over the past couple of years. This year I was especially proud to be working on this campaign as my dad celebrated his 60th birthday while on the Tour. Seeing the months of hard work and training that the cyclists put into the Tour makes you all the more determined to have a really successful campaign. Believing in the message behind the campaign you’ve created is the key to success. We at Fuzion also get to see how well the funds are used by DSI’s Munster branches. Working on a PR campaign for the Tour de Munster is such enjoyable work, and gives me real job satisfaction.

When I was applying for University courses back in my Leaving Cert days, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I did know what I enjoyed and what I was good at, so I followed these passions and studied English and Politics in UCC. Experience and time have led me to PR and to my ideal job. The CAO points frenzy seem to me to be so stressful and unnecessary for students.

Do what you enjoy, work hard and everything will fall into place!

Daisy HIggins, Fuzion Daisy Higgins

Daisy Higgins is a PR Account Executive with Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland


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