Mairead O’Keeffe-Dumoulin – Career Change to Follow Her Passion for Helping Others

SNA & Early Learning & Care

Early Years

Special Needs Assisting

Cork native Mairead O’Keeffe-Dumoulin is working as a Room Leader in a local playschool and afterschool following a successful career change through studying at Portobello Institute.

Before turning to education, Mairead thrived in the sphere of Quality Assurance and Control in a cosmetic manufacturing company. Armed with a Master’s in Food Science, she had professional success in Belgium and later as a Laboratory Manager with a French cosmetic manufacturer. However, a twist came in February 2022 when she faced redundancy.

Facing a pivotal juncture in her life, she sought the guidance of a life coach, determined to redefine her professional trajectory.

Mairead’s journey of reinvention brought her to Portobello Institute, a decision influenced by positive reviews and feedback from a former colleague.

She embarked on SNA Level 5 & 6 combined courses in the summer of 2022 and subsequently pursued the Early Learning and Care Level 6 course from October 2022 to July 2023.

The digital learning environment of Portobello, coupled with its flexible timings and responsive administration, stood out as a remarkable strength.

I enjoyed my time as a student in both the SNA and ECCE courses, I really felt I got to know them, plus the lecturer was outstanding as she provided us with extra support classes,” she said.

A smaller student cohort in the SNA course facilitated close interactions and peer learning. The larger ECCE Level 6 class had its own charm, with a group chat acting as a lifeline during assignment deadlines.

Mairead followed her passion by taking this new career path.

I did follow a passion and that passion was to make a difference however big or small to somebody’s life. I am proud of my achievements, sometimes when I explain what work I am currently doing and what I used to do in the past and explain that I underwent a type of ‘transformation’, I think that I give courage to others who may be thinking of a career change,” she said.

Mairead’s present role is not just a job but a passionate endeavour where she believes she can make a difference, however big or small, in someone’s life every day, whether it’s a child, co-worker, or parent. The transition from Quality Management to becoming a Room Leader is a testament to her adaptability and resilience.

Interestingly, her work as a substitute SNA in a Gaelscoil rekindled her love for the Irish language, showcasing her zest for learning. The ECCE Level 6 qualification acts as a feather in her cap, enabling her to work in a preschool, while her SNA credentials remain a cherished backup for future opportunities.

“My career has completely changed, I used to work in Quality Management and am about to start as a Room Leader in a local playschool. I did school-based and home-based Summer Provision during the summer holidays. I also got to work as a substitute SNA in a Gaelscoil and I was thrilled with this as I have fallen in love with the Irish language at 50! 

I believe that I am working in a career that I want, I honestly feel that I make a positive difference to somebody’s life every day at work, and this could be a child or a co-worker or a parent. The ECCE level 6 allows me to work in a preschool and I still have my SNA qualification that I can use later on,” she said.

Upon reflection, Mairead wears her transformation badge with pride. Her story serves as a beacon of hope for those contemplating a career change, reinforcing the belief that it’s never too late to follow your passion.

Portobello Institute’s Early Years department has qualifications ranging from level 5 to level 9. We offer:

Other courses you may be interested in include:

Visit our Early Years & Montessori department for more.

You can book a consultation to speak with our expert advisor, Jennifer Matteazzi, about any of our Early Years & Montessori courses. Call her directly on 01 892 0031 or email [email protected].

Mairead O’Keeffe-Dumoulin – Career Change to Follow Her Passion for Helping Others Mairead O’Keeffe-Dumoulin – Career Change to Follow Her Passion for Helping Others