‘Do what you enjoy and go for it’

After completing an apprenticeship a few years after her Leaving Cert, Ruth Gill is now an air-conditioning engineer

Ruth Gill – air-conditioning engineer – completed apprenticeship through Solas

Ruth Gill – air-conditioning engineer – completed apprenticeship through Solas


I work as part of the service and maintenance team for a company called Crystal Air and most of our work is based across offices, hotels and data centres. We also look after a variety of different equipment.

I went to St Dominic’s College in Cabra and completed my Leaving Cert in 2004. I studied English, Irish, maths, French, biology, business and home economics for the Leaving Cert.

I did okay – I got around 320 points. I was happy with that as I didn’t really push myself to study or excel at any of the subjects – especially home economics!

After the Leaving Cert I did a two-year security management course in DIT as I was convinced that a career in the gardaí was in my future.

I did enjoy it and got to the interview stage of the Guards but wasn’t successful. At the time, I was working part-time in the hell that is retail.

I knew that it wasn’t for me and that I wanted to get out as quickly as possible.

Reflecting on it all now, I don’t think the Leaving Cert brought me to my current role at all to be honest – apart from needing to meet minimum requirements to become an apprentice.

I don’t recall apprenticeships ever being floated as an option during any career guidance lectures in sixth year of school.

Different trades

I was always interested in how things worked and in fixing things. I then started to apply for various apprenticeships across different trades. After a few interviews I was successful and taken on as a refrigeration apprentice. I have been qualified since 2011 and really enjoy the variety that my job offers. There’s always something else to be learned about the machinery that I’m working on.

My advice to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship is to go for it.

You’ll find out very quickly if the job is for you or not. For instance, we recently had a lad who quit on his first day!

If you’re not sure if it’s the choice for you or not, get in contact with a company in the area you are interested in and see if you could do a week’s work experience.

The apprenticeship programme takes four years and is spread over seven phases. Phases 1, 3, 5 and 7 are ‘on-the-job’ and phases 2, 4 and 6 are in college through Solas. What makes doing an apprenticeship course even better is you get paid to go to college so if you feel that university is not for you, I would definitely recommend it.

For everyone awaiting results, just try to relax – your Leaving results don’t define you or your future.

There seems to be a high emphasis put on going to college, with people thinking that’s where all the money is.

There is plenty of money to be made in trades too. Plenty of people have completely changed professions at different stages of life. Do what you enjoy and go for it.

In conversation with Áine McMahon