CAO profile: Eamonn Fitzgerald, EMEA manager Linkedin
‘At first it’s tough to find the common thread between my degree and my career’
Eamonn Fitzgerald: “If I was picking my CAO choices now, I wouldn’t stress so much about it. When you’re 17 or 18 it’s so tough to know what job you want for the next 50 years”
Eamonn Fitzgerald studied at Coláiste Iognáid in Galway city.
My subjects included business, French, chemistry, and technical graphics (TG) – which I’m pretty sure no longer exists, at least not a pencil and paper version anyway.
I also studied applied maths outside of school.
TG was a very good subject for me, and business wasn’t too bad either. Surprisingly, English ended up being my best subject. Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m not a huge poetry or Jane Austen fan (no offence to the massive Austen fan base out there), but I had a great teacher that went above-and-beyond to help me prepare for that test. Not sure how I would have done without him.
I ended up studying civil engineering in NUI Galway. It seemed like the sensible choice, and the guarantee of jobs only sweetened the deal. Needless to say, after the financial crisis, those jobs never materialised. One thing I learned though is that you have a lot of growing up to do in those years. The longer I spent studying engineering the more I realised this wasn’t the career for me and so, in a way, the lack of job opportunities post-college was a great excuse to go pursue what I was actually passionate about.
After college I got a spot on the Washington Ireland Programme, which brought me to DC for an internship. From there I took a couple of jobs in politics before moving to the non-profit sector with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
Today I work with LinkedIn, where I look after the company’s social impact efforts across Europe and the Middle East. At first it’s tough to find the common thread between my degree and my career, but for me it’s all about problem solving. Instead of buildings, it’s people. It’s about figuring out how we can make the biggest difference possible to the communities we operate in with the resources at our disposal.
If I was picking my CAO choices now, I wouldn’t stress so much about it. When you’re 17 or 18 it’s so tough to know what job you want for the next 50 years. Asking somebody that age to decide their trajectory for the next half century? It’s crazy.
I recognise now that the CAO isn’t really about this. Instead it should be viewed as your first chance to pursue what you’re passionate about. I definitely wouldn’t tie it so heavily to what job I wanted after college. With the exception of a few courses (I still want my doctor to have studied medicine for example) you can always change and pivot your career as you go.
This moment is only a tiny part of your life. It doesn’t define you. If you get what you want, that’s fantastic, but you might change your mind in the future and that’s okay.
If you’re disappointed, don’t worry, you still have plenty of options. At the end of the day it’s all about believing in and backing yourself. Do what you want to do, and if you’re not sure what that is, just do something. Every experience helps to inform the next, and this is all part of a much bigger journey. Enjoy it.