From education to employment

Animal Care Offers Change of Direction for Aoife

Aoife Mooney, returned to study Level 2 Traineeship in Animal Care and is on a career change from Hair and Beauty following pandemic lockdowns.

Taking a step back to do something you have always wanted to do takes lots of courage and, sometimes, a little friendly ‘push’.   Such was the case for Aoife Mooney, whose love for animals came to the fore after lockdown and offered a change in direction.

Aoife (25) from Killough said, “I had always loved animals and did look at some animal care courses, but my mum encouraged me to do hairdressing, thinking I would always have a trade and something to fall back on. So, after GCSEs, I successfully completed a Level 2 and Level 3 in Hair and Beauty at The Academy in Belfast.   I secured employment at Andrew Mulvenna Hair in Belfast and worked there for 3 years before returning to education to do a barbering course in the Man Shack in Belfast which I followed with a Level 3 in Barbering at Belfast Met.

Aoife continued, “After Covid hit, the hair and beauty industry shut down, so I took a job in retail in Arglass for a year.   I just needed to get out of the house to do something to keep myself busy.

“After the year, I decided that I wanted a change from hair, beauty and barbering.   I think Covid was the catalyst for a lot of people to think about what job they were doing and what career they wanted to have.   For me, it was a push to revisit my love of animals.   I researched the Animal Care course at SERC and my partner Alex encouraged me to enrol  on the Level 2 Traineeship in Animal Care as he knew it was something I had always wanted to do.”

“I felt a bit weird coming back to college as I was the oldest one in the class at 25.   But I quickly realised we were all in the same boat, starting off and learning something new for which we all had a strong interest.   I quickly made friends, so it was easy to settle in as the tutors were brilliant and everyone made you feel so welcome.”

“The best part of the course was working with the animals in the College Animal House where we all look after a range of small animals including frogs, snakes, a bearded dragon, guinea pigs, hamster, and fish – with visiting rabbits, goats, dogs, cats and sheep.   I also loved my work placements at Ballykine Boarding Kennels in Ballynahinch.   It was brilliant learning about all the animals and how to perform CPR.  I particularly enjoyed all the biology.”

The young woman, who is taking time off her studies following the birth of her baby boy Luka, continued, “I plan to come back and undertake the Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Animal Management and to progress further. Long term, I would love to work with rescue animals, especially cats. I have two Siamese cats who are currently residing with my grandmother Doreen.”

Aoife concluded, “I would certainly encourage anyone who is thinking of coming back to education to just go for it.   I think when you are particularly interested in something you are so motivated – I found myself jumping out of bed each morning to get to my classes.   I really loved it and am looking forward to progressing after this year.”

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