Climbing the career ladder

Twenty-eight-year-old Maria says she has the perfect job for her. Not only is she pursuing the career of her dreams, but she is able to do it in her home town. ‘I wasn’t planning on working here,’ explains Maria, ‘it just worked out that way. I didn’t think I’d end up so close to home.’ The location has proved to be an advantage as, not only does she get to see her friends and family, but local people appreciate being treated by someone they know.

At school, Maria knew that she wanted to pursue a science-based career and, at the age of 16, spent a week’s work experience with Specsavers. From then on, she was determined to follow a career in optometry.

After four years studying at University in Dublin, Maria qualified and began work as a locum, working in private practices as well as in Specsavers stores. It was, according to Maria, an invaluable experience: ’It gives you a feel for what you prefer and it makes you put yourself out there. I had to go into different stores and it gives you self-confidence.’

It was during this time that Maria discovered that her preferred employer was Specsavers because of the ongoing support employees receive. As Maria says, ‘If I don’t know something, I can go to somebody else.’

And she is keen to pass on her knowledge and experience to others, undertaking the responsibility for in-store training during the past year, which is a part of her job she particularly loves. She also appreciates the satisfaction she gets from meeting people’s needs. ‘I love seeing people and you don’t know what’s coming next. I love establishing a rapport with them and getting to know them. The one thing I really like is knowing people by name.’

Another aspect of working for Specsavers which appeals to Maria is the charity fund-raising that the stores undertake. ‘We raise money for Crumlin Children’s Hospital ophthalmology unit. We undertook the ‘climb for Crumlin’. One person in Limerick actually climbed Everest and all our stores walked on exercise machines to raise money and we all did it on the same day.’

Maria Hickey is an optometrist working in her home town of Midleton, County Cork.

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