Sinead Callaghan

From Donegal to Abu Dhabi: How Sinead’s dream career in childcare began at LYIT

Sinead CallaghanFrom Donegal to Abu Dhabi, Sinead Callaghan’s education from LYIT has taken her on quite the adventure. 

The 23-year-old from Fanad is currently working as a school teacher in the UAE, teaching kindergarten classes and pursuing her passion for education.

Sinead’s interest in teaching grew when she studied for a BSc in Early Childhood Care and Education at Letterkenny Institute of Technology. 

Sinead outlined that LYIT was her first choice because, as a former homebird, she wanted to be close to home while enjoying life as a student. Her second and probably most compelling reason for choosing LYIT was the wide range of courses the institution offered. 

Sinead said: “I always knew I wanted to work with children so, when I heard how highly commended both the career opportunities and recognition of the awards achieved from the Institution were in both Ireland and abroad, I knew LYIT was the obvious choice for me.”

Over four years from 2012-2016, Sinead describes how she learned both academic and personal skills: “Along with the obvious childcare skills there are other deeper skills such as empathy, communication, and understanding. These are all skills needed when working with kids but they also go a long way in your personal life too,” she adds.

One particular experience really fueled her passion for this career path, and this was during the work placement. Practice Placement is an integral part of the degree which allowed Sinead to learn from experience in a school through supervised practice. 

“I went to Little Angels on a 3 month placement back in 2015. Before that I had never worked with children with special needs but when I walked through those doors I knew that was job I wanted for life. 

“As rewarding as the work I was doing was, the most rewarding thing for me was, that I finally realised what my true passion and career path was. Without getting the chance to go on placement I would have never known that was area I wanted to direct my studies towards,” she said.

The work placement helped Sinead discover the exact path to focus on, which is one of the main reasons she recommends this diverse programme. 

Sinead said: “This course can be used as a springboard for many career choices such as teaching, nursing, Special Needs Education and Psychology. 

“Applicants may not know exactly what path they want to take when they first start in college and that is completely normal, with this course there are a wide variety of aspects covered and opportunity for placements every year is a major help when it comes to deciding what it is you really want to do. “

As with any degree, the Early Childhood Care and Education programme required hard work and dedication. Sinead said she would advise any future students to keep working towards their goals.

“College is hard work, it’s the best days of your life but it’s hard work!

“Coming out the other end with a degree in your hand is the best feeling in the world and I wouldn’t be where I am today without my degree so it’s more than worth it.” 

Sinead is eager to recommend the BSc in Early Childhood Care and Education to anyone considering a career in teaching and childcare. For her, the course opened up new doors and new adventures abroad. 

Sinead found her current job very shortly after graduating. She has spent her summer in America and Canada, and by November she was living and working in Abu Dhabi.

“Not only is the programme highly recognised in Ireland but also all over the world. This programme can lead to so many opportunities and will open so many doors to future education and chances,” she said.

The skills Sinead gained in Letterkenny were universal for childcare and education, and she was ably equipped to be a KG teacher with her ECCE honours degree. Although the work did require a new teaching style:

“The teaching life is very different to what it is at home (there’s no such thing as doing lesson plans!) It takes a while to get used to but once you settle in its great and the lifestyle isn’t too bad either!