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New “Career Ahead” for Mary Lucey!

New “Career Ahead” for Mary Lucey!

This September was a very different one for Mary Lucey. During September, she is normally immersed in scheduling; timetables; arranging inductions; meeting students and advising parents etc in preparation for the new college academic year.

This year, however will saw her following a new career path and one which she is very enthusiastic about. Mary has launched a new venture entitled “Career Ahead with Mary Lucey”, an educational, college and career advice and support hub. It will offer support before, during and after college and for those working looking to retrain, upskill or move positions. As Mary believes there is a real need for a one-stop shop where people are offered solutions to the multitude of problems encountered. These groups will have access to her wealth of knowledge, insight, information and experience built up over many years working in the education sector with students of all ages.

Why this change in career now…

My decision to change is purely based on personal choice. I have been employed in education for most of my working life. I loved my most recent role as Principal of KerryETB’s Kerry College Clash and Denny Street Campuses. KerryETB is the most wonderful, progressive organisation to work for and it was certainly not an easy decision to move. However, I have always wanted to work for myself taking on a number of projects and decided this was the right time. I constantly advise people to follow their dreams and do what they love and so decided to lead by example and fulfil one of my own dreams! I am excited at the prospect of this venture and as they say nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Why offer this service…

This kind of support and advice hub is currently not available, Career Ahead will be accessible nationwide to all students/parents/guardians/graduates. I always found it very rewarding working with students and new graduates and I intend to continue that as part of Career Ahead. It is very frustrating the lack of knowledge that students and their parents/guardians have about the college systems, policies and procedures. This can have such a major negative impact on them – personally and financially. It is also startling how ill-prepared new college graduates are for the world of work.

Why the name – Career Ahead…

The name has a double entendre – it refers to an individual’s future career or that someone is careering ahead – moving forward. I believe that all of us should aim to be moving forward in some shape all the time… we should not be content to remain stagnant.

What initially planted the seed in your mind…

There are huge dropout rates from third level colleges within the first couple of months and also lots of students not successfully completing programmes. Time and time again, I meet a student who has made an incorrect decision, based on lack of knowledge, and it can have major implications. I meet students who have failed a module or need support with their academic studies and do not know what to do to ensure they are not disadvantaged. I meet parents who are completely at sea when their son/daughter in college has a difficulty and they simply need information or advice and do not know where or who to go to. I meet graduates who cannot put a cv or letter of application together or do not know how to undertake an interview effectively be it face to face or on-line. I meet employers from all industry sectors who are amazed at how ill-prepared new university graduates can be upon leaving college and entering the workforce. I am talking about providing information and support to help a student survive from secondary school to selecting the most suitable college course; to progressing successfully through college to the next stage of entering the workforce. There are normally very practical solutions to the majority of problems encountered and through the invaluable bank of knowledge and insight gained and networks established over the years, I aim to provide workable solutions through the Career Ahead Hub.

I also want in some way to attempt to address the major skill shortages and enormous gender imbalances that exist in certain industry sectors. I have had groups of computing students at third level which comprised of 99 males and 1 female and the total reverse in the childcare sector. Yet there is huge demand for females in the software development and males in the childcare sectors. It is important a student’s choice is not unduly influenced by a preconceived perceptions and they get to choose what they are interested in and would love to study themselves.

What do you love most about your work…

I love when things work out well for students after you provide advice and support – be it when they are offered a course they want, they love the course they have chosen to study; they get a job offer, they are accepted on to an apprenticeship programme, or that they have managed to overcome a personal obstacle such as dealing with anxiety or lack of confidence. It is extremely rewarding and satisfying and all the more so if they remember to revert back to you to tell you of their success!!!

Is there anything you find difficult about your work…

I personally do not like when a parent/guardian refuses to listen to their son or daughter about a course they wish to apply for. Inevitably, if a student is forced to study on a course they do not like, it can be very difficult for them.

Similarly, I find it difficult when a student decides to give up on a course when you know they have the ability to succeed.

I also find it difficult to accept that so many peoples’ abilities are determined by their leaving certificate points, as this is not always an indication of ability or intelligence. The leaving certificate suits certain people and they do really well, others may be more suited to a different type of learning and examination system.

What are you most proud of in your career…

I am most proud of the fact that I was in a position to have had a positive impact on so many students’ lives over the years. It has been and will continue to be truly an honour.

Personally, I am most proud of my three sons and the particular careers that they each individually choose to take or are taking – they followed their passion and overcame various setbacks in life to continue to strive and career ahead…

What opportunities did your work afford you..

The most important opportunity my career afforded me was the privilege to witness at first hand the utter transformation of a student under the guidance and care of respectful, interested and dedicated teachers. There is nothing as powerful to witness. This is what continues to drive me with energy and passion.

See Also

Are women fairly represented or underrepresented in your profession (in your opinion)?

The University of Limerick has just appointed the first female President of an Irish University in July 2020 so I think that answers that question!! I was privileged to be the first female Principal appointed to KerryETB’s Kerry College which made me very proud, but I believe that females are certainly underrepresented especially at the more senior levels in certain educational sectors. This is beginning to change however for the better.

Advice for those making career choices now…

Everybody knows what they are best at in life…. And what you are not good at! Do what you are good at as much as you can…Pick a career that you think you will thrive in and be excited about every day!

Any final words of inspiration…

Go for it! Whatever it is!! Don’t be afraid to fail, get up and try again. We have all failed at different times and tried and tried again…

You can contact Mary at 087-8338941 and follow her on facebook at

Check out her new website

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