AnnMarie Maxwell is working for Third Space
“I was 20 when I started in NLN I started in Fresh Start, that was only a nine-month course it was mainly just to just get myself back into the working environment and for me to get back into a routine. I was very sick in 2015. So it took me a long time to recover, I became quite lazy after it.
I didn’t want to go anywhere, didn’t want to do anything, didn’t want to work again. From what the hospital were telling me as well I wouldn’t be able to go back to work doing what I wanted to do which was security at gigs and festivals, and big events in Croke Park, Longitude etc. I loved it, interacting with the crowds etc. But it would’ve been too much of a risk for me.
My tutors were so good to me, they helped me out a lot saying ‘you’re well able for this’ and ‘look you’re flying through this module. You have this nearly done.’ I didn’t see that I was doing it fast enough but then I could see that I was. Aoife, one of my tutors, came and told me she had a great place for me to do my work experience, she thought it would really suit me. It was Third Space Cafe. I started in the Aungier Street café and the staff helped me a lot training me. This was my first time working in a proper café. It was lovely but very quiet so I was moved to this café in Smithfield. That was nearly two years ago. I worked here for nearly a year on work experience while I finished my course and Third Space took me on full time in January 2019.
It’s so nice, the café is community based. I love the relationship between the staff and customers. The café is a social enterprise there are so many different groups coming in to use the space to meet. We have an initiative called Square Meal once a month usually for a charity where they will come in and have a big meal, you pay as much as you want for your food. It’s brilliant. The standards are high here but it’s also chilled. You feel you’re getting the job done but also enjoying it. It’s important to me to feel that I’m making a difference.
Before I started in here I was quite negative, I suffered really badly with anxiety as well, even my mum would say she can’t get over the difference in me. I am very positive now. I have a completely different outlook in life. A lady came in here two weeks ago, I was chatting away to her for a few minutes and she said, “do you know what, you’re a lovely girl. It doesn’t cost me anything, I do my job and have a good chat and good relationship with the customers. You give them a good vibe and they come in and say it’s a nice place.
I’m happy where I am, I’d like to go on maybe and do a business or marketing course … may be in a few years. Whether it’s the business course, the catering or Fresh Start NLN was brilliant, they go at the pace you want.”
Sean Nagle got a job at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre after studying catering in Ennis NLN
When Sean Nagle from Liscannor, Co Clare finished his Leaving Cert Applied he wasn’t sure what to do next or what the future would hold.
Like thousands of Leaving Cert students who receive their results in August every year, the then 19-year-old was faced with the difficult decision of choosing a course and finding a career path. But traditional post-school study routes don’t suit every young person. For such students, the National Learning Network (NLN) offers a stepping stone into a job or further education.
Sean first thought about doing a computing course, then a business course before settling on a Post Leaving Cert Course (PLC) in Physiology and Sport. He was always into physical fitness and thought he would excel but struggled with the science element. When a guidance counsellor told him about National Learning Network in Ennis things fell into place.
Learning is at the student’s own pace, in small classes and with work experience tailored to individual needs and abilities. All students have access to one-to-one support from instructors in numeracy and literacy, as well as an onsite psychologist. Among the attractions for Sean was that "unlike school you could start at any time of the year and everyone goes at their own pace.”
“I really wasn’t quite sure what to do when I finished my Leaving Cert, it can be a bit overwhelming knowing school it coming to an end and not knowing what to do next. I tried a Sports course, as I had always been into physical fitness and sports, but I didn’t get on very well with that. I didn’t know what to make of NLN and doing a FETAC course at first. I worried it was like taking a step backward but I really enjoyed it, it was different from being at school. I felt relaxed and it was very supported."
Sean first completed an Introductory Skills Training course before moving on to an Employer Based Training course.
“It was while I was on a week’s trial at a Catering Assistant Programme in Limerick that I decided to go into the catering and hospitality industry. I was doing some work experience at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre café and I got on so well that I was offered a job that I was delighted to accept,” he said.
“Since NLN, what I am most proud of is getting a job, buying my own car and passing my driving test. I really enjoy working at the visitor centre. You get to meet people from all over the world. Going to college and trying to do courses you end up not liking can be so stressful it’s nice just to come to work and have a routine,” said Sean.
Sean credits NLN with helping him "to achieve his goals. “I’m not sure I would have found this path if I hadn’t gone to NLN. It’s helped me to work out what I’m good actually good at and move forward. As I am still young, I also wouldn’t rule out doing further studies down the road and trying my hand at something else I would recommend NLN to anyone who needs a little support to achieve their goals.”