The graduate hiring fair at the RDS gets bigger

Job prospects look good for students at this year’s graduate fair, where up to 4,000 positions will be on offer


‘There will be more jobs on offer than at any time over the past 10 years and we have more employers in more sectors than ever before,” says Mark Mitchell, director of Gradireland, organiser of the biggest graduate careers fair in the country. This year’s fair promises something for everyone from across all disciplines, even the much-scorned arts graduate.

The Gradireland careers fair has moved into a bigger venue in the RDS in Dublin, reflecting the growth in the number of employment opportunities for graduates.

“Students have a terrible habit of pigeonholing employers a lot more than employers pigeonhole students,” says Mitchell. “Take Grant Thornton, a big, standard accountancy firm. They hire lots of ag science graduates because they have a lot of business that’s relevant to that.

“All of the big firms who will be filling graduate programmes, they all touch on different areas of business: marketing, sales, product development, HR and accounting, for which they need graduates from all disciplines. And then of course they’ll have the core functions, whether it’s an engineering company or IT etc.”

There will be more than 120 companies at this year’s fair in the RDS. Gradireland expects between 3,500-4,000 graduate jobs to be on offer.

“The biggest proportion of graduate jobs are still in the traditional professions such as banking, insurance and finance,” says Mitchell.

“But IT and technology are big employers too, and there has been a huge growth in retail, with Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Musgraves all hiring. Food is another big area and Kerry Group, Diageo and Jameson will all be recruiting graduates from across a range of disciplines.”



Mitchell says 70 per cent of visitors to the fair are usually students. Those in their final year use it as an opportunity to meet all of the big companies under one roof, find out what their graduate programmes are like and suss out what might be available to them when they finish next year.


However, it’s also an excellent chance, for first- or second- year students to begin researching various companies. Summer internships are offered by a number of the multinationals and the fair gives students the opportunity to introduce themselves and learn more about the qualities and skills these companies are looking for.

While most organisations will be promoting their graduate programmes, they will also be recruiting for immediate job vacancies. These positions will be visible on “jobs walls” dotted around the RDS, and in a new development for the careers fair, there will be a live interview area with on the on-the-spot hiring for any of successful graduates currently looking for work.

An event app will allow students to directly contact employers along with providing alerts for the starting times of various seminars throughout the day.

Everybody is encouraged to bring along their CV, not just for potential employers but for the CV clinic. The clinic offers the chance to have a CV reviewed by a specialist and get tips on where to improve it. CV clinic slots fill up quickly each year, so people are advised to get in early and book their appointment.

Along with jobs, those looking for information on postgraduate courses will be able to speak to representatives from Irish colleges, along with UK universities such as Cardiff Metropolitan University and Liverpool Hope University. Prospective postgraduate students can find out about the colleges’ courses, application dates and funding opportunities.

Who’s exhibiting at the fair?
Multinational companies make up the bulk of this year’s exhibitors, with more than 120 companies offering live jobs and graduate programmes on the day.

On-the-job training, the opportunity to travel and further education opportunities will come as standard with many of the companies’ programmes, which vary between one and two years. Retailers and food companies in particular have a strong presence this year.

Household names such as Diageo, Coca Cola and Jameson offer a range of exciting, challenging and creative positions, while lesser-known companies such as Arytza are also worth speaking to.

Arytza is a global food business whose most recognised brand in Ireland is Cuisine de France. The company offers an 18-month graduate development programme and is recruiting from all disciplines in areas including product development, procurement, IT, engineering and quality control.

Irish food companies that have gone on to make a big impact on the global stage are also exhibiting. These include food processing company Dawn Meats; Kerry Group, a leading supplier of consumer foods globally; dairy processor Lakeland Dairies and beef processors ABP Group, one of Europe’s leading agribusiness companies.


In the retail sector, Boots, Abercrombie & Fitch and Smyths Toys are recruiting graduates from all disciplines. Supermarkets are also competing for Irish graduates – Lidl, Aldi, Musgraves Group and Tesco are all exhibiting at the fair and will have current graduates from their programmes available to talk to visitors about their experience so far.

The finance, banking and accountancy sector remains a strong area for jobs. Bank of Ireland is inviting graduates from all areas to apply to their programmes in areas including HR, IT, customer service, finance and auditing, all with a focus on working as part of a larger team. Deutsche Bank will be on hand to advise students and graduates of its opportunities.

All of the big name firms with very established graduate programmes in accountancy, consultancy and advisory services – including PWC, Deloitte, KPMG, Grant Thornton and EY – will also be exhibiting.

There are fewer companies involved from the pharmaceutical sector than other areas but Pfizer will be recruiting graduates as will Abbott Ireland, a global, broad-based health company.

BioMarin, which develops and commercialises innovative biopharmaceuticals will also have a stand at the fair.

In the IT area, consultancy firms Ammeon and SQS group are looking for graduates, while Intel has opportunities for science and engineering graduates of all levels from higher certificate to PhDs.

Engage Education Ireland, a specialist recruitment company that places qualified teachers and support staff in in UK schools, has a huge number of opportunities for teachers. At its stand visitors can learn about its free four-day trips to the UK to interview, visit schools and secure a job.

A number of Irish and UK universities will provide information on a range of postgraduate courses at the event.

Specialist education institutes offering professional qualifications in insurance, accountancy and taxation, including Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Certified Public Accountants, Insurance Institute of Ireland, and the Irish Taxation Institute will also attend the fair.

There are a host of other exhibitors from Paddy Power to the Peter McVerry Trust, Education Training & Career (ETC) Consult to Jaguar, Kingspan and Vodafone Ireland.

For a full list of exhibitors see

Seminars on offer at the fair
Silent seminars were a big hit at the Gradireland fair in 2014 and this year a number of talks will be delivered in this style. Working in the same way as a silent disco, people attending the talks will listen to the guest speaker through headphones provided by Gradireland. It’s a novel way for people to hear every single word of the seminar in what can often be a very noisy careers fair.

Silent or not, there’s a large array of 30 and 40 minute seminars to cater for many interests. Everything from dressing for success to staying calm in interviews to securing funding for research will be covered.

A seminar on postgraduate teacher training in the UK is the only one to run twice and will be presented by Rachael Farley, postgraduate and EU recruitment manager with Edgehill University. Entry requirements, how to submit a strong application, the interview process and life as a teacher in UK will be covered.

For students considering postgraduate research, the Irish Research Council (IRC) will give a brief outline of its funding schemes, focusing in particular on research opportunities for postgraduates. Postgraduate scholars will also provide first-hand insights into life as a doctoral student and outline why research matters.

Anybody interested in doing a master’s programme in Continental Europe should go to the seminar by Guy Flouch, director and advisor with Eunicas.


Eunicas is an independent application support service for Irish and UK students who want to enrol in courses in mainland Europe. Flouch will give an overview of postgraduate opportunities, entry requirements, fees and application process for European universities.

After three or four years of hard study, students can sometimes come to the conclusion they would be better suited to a completely different field.

Dave Kilmartin, head of career development with DIT, will give a seminar on conversion courses, of interest to students who want to diversify from their degree and specialise in other areas through a postgrad programme.

There are a growing number of conversion courses in colleges around the country, ranging from fashion to HR, law and accountancy.

A Styleworks seminar by stylist Laura Jordan will help people understand how to dress appropriately for both interviews and the workplace, and how to maximises your professional wardrobe on a budget.

Once you’ve learned to dress for success, calming your nerves during an interview may be of interest to the scores of people facing into that scenario over the next few months.

Business and personal coach James Sweetman will teach practical strategies for boosting self-confidence; how to feel in control going into an interview; the role of body language and how to communicate effectively in an interview.

A “How to Get Hired in Consulting” seminar will be useful for anyone who wants a career but doesn’t want to commit to a particular role.

Delivered by Rebecca Horgan, management consultant and head of Accenture’s university recruitment, Horgan will explain what consulting is really like day to day and the career path and opportunities it can lead to.

EU institutions There are many career paths in a variety of EU institutions and international organisations such as the World Bank, the UN, the European Council and across various Irish government departments.

Employees from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of An Taoiseach will deliver a seminar on the types of roles open to graduates, the skills and interests necessary for a government career and the opportunities here and abroad for aspiring diplomats.

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