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10th May 2017

6 tips for getting a job after college (from a kick-ass CEO who knows her sh*t)

Gillian Fitzpatrick

If you thought doing your Leaving Cert and sitting finals was bad… then you have to go get an actual job.


It’s not easy – we know that – but a lot of the time it’s tough to even know where to start looking for employment, or deciding on what career avenue to go down.

Step forward the inspirational Aoibheann O’Brien. In 2013, she co-founded FoodCloud, a revolutionary social enterprise that connects supermarkets that have surplus food to charities in their locality.

In 2014, she went on to become CEO of FoodCloud Hubs, which rescues large volumes of surplus food from farms, manufacturers and distributors through three warehouses in Cork, Galway and Dublin. To date, the equivalent of more than 2.5 million meals has reached charities in Ireland through FoodCloud Hubs.

So in short, the 32-year-old knows her stuff.

Before becoming a social entrepreneur, Aoibheann did a graduate programme in an investment bank in London. Aoibheann also has a BA in Law and Accounting from the University of Limerick, and an MSc in Environmental Science from Trinity College Dublin

Here, Aoibheann shares with Her her top six tips for securing your first job after college…

1) Really spend the time figuring out what you are passionate about

You spend so much of your time in work, so it is worth trying to find something that you really care about and somewhere that you can learn loads, thrive and grow. Research and think about what you want as a job and the type of company you would like to work for. Do not apply for every job that you see. Instead, invest the time in a few key opportunities and roles. When you start applying tailor your CV and cover letter for each application. It takes more time but it is worth it. Think about your experience and what you can bring to the role. Don’t worry if your first job is not your dream job, I knew that I didn’t want to work in an investment bank forever but the skills I learned in my couple of years and the experience I got there have proved to be invaluable.

2) Google yourself! 

Don’t assume that your social media profiles are private. Clean up your profile online before your job interview!

3) Talk to people who work the job or in companies you are interested in 

It is so important to really understand what will be doing on a day-to-day basis. Reach out to people you know who work in roles you are interested in or who work in companies that you would like to work for. Find out what the company culture is like and what skills are needed for the role. Be prepared and have your questions ready so that you make the most of these people’s time and yours. It is best to speak to people who are at entry level rather than senior people as it will give you a better idea of what your role would be.

4) Get on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great resource. It is a great opportunity to tell your story, show your experience and even provide examples of your work. You can find out so much about different companies and follow influencers to get lots of information and tips about the sector and getting a job more generally.

5) Get good references

References are so important. Don’t leave this until the end to sort out. Having a good reference from someone you have worked with you previously, from an internship or from a lecturer is gold. Having someone stand by your character and work ethic is really helpful in securing your first job.

6) When you do get the interview prepare, prepare, prepare and smile

Research the company, research the people who will be interviewing and make sure you are confident talking about your CV and experience. Make sure to listen to the question that is asked and try to keep your answers concise and not too rambly! Ask your friends and family to help you run through a mock interview – embarrassing as it may be. Also make sure to smile and be positive, the people across the table of an interview will mostly be asking themselves, will I be happy to spend my days sitting next to this person!

Aoibheann O’Brien will be among the panel of speakers at the Bord Gáis Energy Business Conference in The Clayton Hotel, Galway on Thursday May 11. For further information please see