What is your career background?
I joined the Local Government Graduate Programme in 2021 under the Climate Action stream. This was the area I was keen to establish a career path in, in the public sector.
I started with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in July 2021 and was placed on their Energy Team. The role was based in the Architects Department and entailed assisting the Energy Performance Officer and Energy Coordinator to manage Energy Team activities and reporting obligations.
My time on the Graduate Programme provided a wide range of projects and experiences, which proved invaluable when the opportunity arose to apply for a permanent staff officer role. I was successful at interview and have remained with the Energy Team since in a similar role but one requiring more initiative and a greater level of responsibility.
Prior to the Local Government Graduate Programme, I had worked in the events industry. I studied part-time for three years and received a graduate certificate in Project Management from IBAT College and a graduate Diploma in Environmental Sustainability from UCD. I then return to full-time education for a one-year Masters in Environmental Policy in UCD, finishing with first class honours. Prior to these post-graduate qualifications, I completed an undergraduate degree in Property Economics at TU Dublin.
What does your role involve?
There was a great variety of work in the Climate Action Graduate role. I was involved in drafting text for the Energy and Buildings section of the local authority’s Climate Change Action Plan, submitting energy and emissions data to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) Monitoring & Reporting (M&R) system, as well organising internal and public energy awareness events.
The Energy Team is a cross-departmental team, so the role provides a great opportunity to engage with colleagues from across the organisation too.
While my post-graduate education provided a decent foundation in energy policy, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown were very supportive in providing additional training to ensure I was upskilled appropriately to continue my development in the role. The Lean Six Sigma course completed as part of the Graduate Programme was useful also.
What are the most rewarding things about working for a local authority?
The work of local authorities on climate action is an important intersection where national climate action policies are implemented at a local level - an essential part of our successful transition to a sustainable society.
I joined the Local Government Graduate Programme to gain first-hand experience of this work and I have really enjoyed being part of the local authority’s climate journey. I have seen what it takes for a local authority to deliver emissions reductions and keep up with the demands of delivering essential services to a growing population.
I have also been given the opportunity to engage with the public on some of these issues, contributing to awareness-raising and gaining valuable insights on public sentiment too.
Why should someone consider a career with a local authority or taking part in the Graduate Programme?
I would highly recommend joining the Local Government Graduate Programme to anyone embarking on a career in climate action. The public sector is leading the way on many aspects of climate action and local authorities represent a key driver of change in wider society through the breadth of services they deliver.
I found the Graduate Programme provided ample opportunity to apply the skills I had acquired in UCD and continue my development through further training. The programme provided my first experience of public service and how rewarding it feels to make a positive contribution to our community.