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Trinity College Dublin

Personal Development Programme

This programme enhances student motivation for learning in general and for "employability" in particular. A range of skills, to this end, are developed through seminars, careers evening, a workbook, online material and/or mentoring. The programme may or may not be assessed as part of the curriculum.


Aim of the Programme

To identify the most effective ways of enhancing student motivation for learning in general and for "employability" in particular, which encourages the clarification and attainment of each individual's personal objectives through a process of planning, experience and reflection.

Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own career development and to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. In College opportunities may come through academic work and membership of clubs and societies and, outside of College, through work experience, placements or internships.


Objectives of the Programme

The programme sets out to develop within the curriculum the following set of skills generic across all disciplines, which would help the student to respond to the changing needs of employers and to support their career planning activities into the future:

  • Knowing yourself: Identifying values, skills, interests and other personal attributes. Reviewing previous experience and analysing these components in the form of a summary statement or record.
  • Researching opportunities for employment and further study: Seeking and assessing relevant information. Identifying sources of help and support.
  • Decision-making: Obtaining feedback on ideas for careers development. Identifying personal priorities and constraints. Integrating self-assessment with the options available.
  • Goal-setting and taking action: Writing and implementing an action plan. Communicating effectively orally and in writing to achieve objectives. Reviewing progress and identifying learning points.


Schools / Disciplines who collaborate in delivering the Personal Development Programme

The full PDP programme, which is run in collaboration with Schools/disciplines, includes a combination of seminars, online tools, a workbook (known as the Personal Career Development Record), careers evenings / talks by alumni and mentoring.

The full PDP programme is being delivered collaboratively in the following Schools/disciplines:

  • Physics
  • Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Pharmacy
  • Business Studies

The following Schools/disciplines have integrated sections of the PDP programme into their skills development programmes and these are generally delivered by a Careers Adviser:

  • Nursing & Midwifery
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy

Elements of the programme are also delivered by Careers Advisers in the following disciplines:

  • Classics
  • Germanic Studies
  • Hebrew, Biblical & Theological Studies
  • History of Art
  • Music


Programme Design

The programme is a partnership arrangement between the Careers Advisory Service and Schools for the development and delivery of appropriate materials through four main series of activities:

The four main elements in the personal Development Programme are detailed below:

    1. Seminars / Class Sessions
    2. Careers Evenings
    3. Mentoring Programmes
    4. Development of transferable skills through Work Experience & Internships


Seminars / Class Sessions

  • These are similar to workshops run for all students by the Careers Service but are particularly tailored to meet the needs of each individual discipline. They are generally run in class time and include topics such as career planning, assessing your strengths, opportunity awareness, decision-making, CV & application forms, networking and interview techniques.
  • For more information on seminars and the reflective portfolio for each of the PDP courses above see the relevant "Your Degree ... What Next?".


Careers Evenings

  • Organised in collaboration with the discipline, Careers Evenings involve 4-6 alumni from the discipline speaking informally about the career choices they have made.
  • Graduates speak about their experiences since leaving College and advise students in their penultimate or final year on preparing for the world of work. A broad range of graduate jobs are represented.
  • Penultimate and final year students are specifically invited but all students are welcome to attend.


Mentoring Programmes

What is Mentoring?
Mentoring is an interactive learning and educational experience between alumni and students to assist students in their personal and career development.  Gradlink is a joint initiative between the Careers Advisory Service, Alumni Relations and individual Schools.  It was launched in 2012/13 and currently operates in three Schools.  It is intended to extend it to a further six Schools during 2014/15.

Mentoring within Academic Schools
The mentors are graduates who have worked for a number of years and at the School’s request have agreed to share their experience and insights.  The mentees are students of the School interested in learning from the mentor’s experience and being advised, guided and informed by them.  Schools intending to participate in 2014/15 include:

  • School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies, i.e. Centre for European Studies, French, Germanic Studies, Hispanic Studies, Irish, Russian and Italian
  • School of Histories and Humanities - Departments of Classics, History and History of Art & Architecture
  • School of Natural Science - Departments of Botany, Geography, Geology and Zoology together with the Centres for the Environment and for Biodiversity Research.
  • School of Dental Science
  • School of Nursing & Midwifery
  • School of Physics

How does the Gradlink Programme Work?
During the programme launch each graduate gives a brief introduction.  At a reception following this, students have the opportunity to speak to mentors one to one or in groups in order to get further information on the mentors’ experience.  At the end of the event, the students complete a mentor matching form indicating a first, second and third choice of mentor.  Students who wish to participate are then matched with a mentor for the programme.  Depending on demand, between one and three students are matched to each mentor.

Students and mentors should plan to meet at least three times during the academic year or a total of 8-10 hours to maximise the benefit of the programme.

Topics of interest to Mentees

  • Researching and exploring particular job roles and sectors
  • Seeking advice on obtaining relevant career related work experience
  • Deciding on what to do after graduation
  • A CV or LinkedIn profile review
  • Practice job interviews
  • Introductions to other professional colleagues/networking
  • Finding jobs that are not advertised
  • Exploring postgraduate study

Students' Views of Mentoring:

Below are comments from previous mentees:

"It was useful to discover that studying languages can lead to a wide range of career areas." Lucy, SF TSM

"It was helpful to talk to someone who had a degree and was now pursuing a very different avenue career-wise. I received tips on how to improve my CV." Caroline SF Business Studies & German.

"My mentor recommended some very useful changes with regard to my approach to university life, in particular with regard to my CV." Kate, SF TSM

"Simply talking through different options with my mentor has helped me to reach a few decisions regarding future careers. She has been very helpful in advising me about getting published and providing information on journalism." Laura, SS TSM

"It was great to gain an insight into the professional world that I am keen to move into." Conor, SF Law & German

"I have thought about what I would like and not like from my career; my mentor was very helpful in giving advice and practical ideas." Fidelma JS TSM


Developing transferable skills through Work Experience & Internships

By developing transferable skills students can optimise their career potential. Identifying some of their transferable skills by using practical tools such as the skills audit available at Developing Transferable Skills is one example.

Developing these skills in a practical sense is another and can be done through career related work experience and internships which are advertised by external organisation on the CAS website, primarily for Junior Sophisters (3rd year students). For more information on how to prepare and begin your job search see Work Experience & Internships or make an appointment to see your careers adviser.


Further Information

Contact your Departmental Careers Liaison Officer or the Careers Advisory Service for further details on the Personal Development Programme.

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