The Government's Road Traffic Bill 2013 will see newly licensed drivers having to display 'N' plates for two years on their cars. Not displaying 'N' plates could lead to two penalty points and a fine of up to €1,000.
The 'N' for novice drivers isn't the only new regulation to come into effect from August 1st, new drivers will also be subject to more restrictions as they will be banned for six months if they get six penalty points whereas it's 12 penalty points for fully-qualified drivers.
As well as the already minimum 12 driving lessons learners have to get before they can do their test, they now need to keep a record or log book of experience hours. N-plate drivers will also have a lower permitted blood alcohol limit than fully licensed drivers – 20mg instead of 50mg.
The rule where a fully licensed driver must accompany learner drivers still stands but novice drivers don't qualify as the accompanying driver.
The Graduated Learner System (GLS) is already in place in a lot of EU countries and is expected to reduce collisions, deaths and injuries among novice and learner drives, particularly between the ages of 17-24.
Have you thought about doing your driving test? Check out this article on applying and preparing for the test. To find out more about the new learner permit system, visit the National Drivers Licence Service.
You may remember back in October, when we featured an article on the not-for-profit organistaion, 100minds. Creator, Declan Egan, was attempting to get 100 young people to raise €1000 each for Temple Street Children’s Hospital.
By no means an easy feat, but boy did Declan and his team make it look easy and surpassed their target to raise €138,000! Through a host of inventive ideas and events including dog walks, fight nights, 5 aside tournaments, Christmas parties and coffee mornings, the students out did themselves.
This is undoubtedly a phenomenal achievement from some of Ireland’s best and brightest and you can take a look at the impact their work had for Temple Street Children’s Hospital in the video below:
You can find out more about how so much money was raised in such a short period of time on the 100minds blog here and get an insight into how the participants dealt with such a challenging task.
Not only does 100minds create a significant impact for the people that they fundraise for but the students that raise the funds also benefit in lots of ways. By coming up with innovative and creative ideas and holding events, they learn lots of new skills to add to their CVs and through the 100minds blog; they can share their successes with some of the best business minds in Ireland.
Has this achievement inspired you? Think you could take on the challenge? 100minds is looking for undergrads that want to do more than just aim for a 2.1 but also want to make an impact and step outside of their comfort zone.
Sign up here to find out more about 100minds 2014. To keep up to date with 100minds campaign, check out their Facebook and Twitter.
On the 28th of March, I found out that I was lucky enough to be awarded a fully funded travel award to Vermont, America for two weeks during June/July. This award was bestowed upon me by EIL Intercultural Learning. EIL Intercultural Learning is an Irish, not-for-profit organisation which provides intercultural learning opportunities through study abroad, volunteer abroad, language training, travel awards, group educational programmes, and other cultural immersion activities for about 2,000 people each year.
EIL’s Intercultural Learning aimis: “To provide intercultural learning experiences which enrich lives, promote understanding of other cultures and challenge individuals to be more globally aware and responsible.”
I found out about this award through out Waterford Comhairle na nÓg, which is the statutory representative body of young people between the ages of 12 and 18 in County Waterford. I have been an active member of Comhairle na nÓg since October 2012. I feel my membership in Comhairle spurred me to apply for this award, and for that I am forever grateful.
Comhairle also aim to encourage personal development of their members and all the young people we represent. I can honestly say it has utterly changed me. It is an amazing experience where I have gained and improved my skill set, built my confidence and gained experience in project development and developing my leadership skills. Some of the amazing projects Comhairle has done to date are:
Mind matters: A video to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with Mental Health among young people in response to a string of local young suicides.
The Cyber Code: Cyber Bullying was highlighted as the most important issue affecting young people in County Waterford in 2013. Waterford Comhairle was tasked with combatting this. Over a nine-month period the Comhairle brought the Cyber Code and Cyber Day from an idea to a reality.
The Cyber Code consists of three principles:
Cyber Day 2013 took place on Thursday October 3rd. This involved 19 Comhairle members including myself presenting in the nine secondary schools of Waterford County. It was a great success and we where rewarded for all of our hard work at the highest level when we took home top prize in the all island pride of place award for the category of youth and enterprise. We are now working on our new project body image.
I will most definitely carry this learning experience with me in the future.
Although short, my time in Vermont was nothing short of amazing! This two-week program challenged participants to find solutions to the local and global problems that directly impact young people. My time in Vermont has tested me as a person, tested my morals, ethics, leadership style, cultural knowledge and my ability to deal with the bad as well as the good issues we learned about! I believe this has indeed changed me; it’s really made me think about my life and how much more I can do. How much more I have to do! I honestly do believe it takes one person to make a change and my time in Vermont, I believe, has equipped me and the other students to do so.
Catherine was awarded a Travel Award in 2014 from Eil Intercultural Learning.
If you are confident in your ability to remain calm and collected during an interview while still coming across as focused and confident, look away now. You don’t need this advice. However, if like me you attend your first proper interview for an actual full-time job and discover you have no idea what to say, then keep reading. I’ve been there (a good few times, actually), but, inch-by-excruciatingly-painful-inch, I learned how to tackle my nerves and make a good impression.
When I first started going to interviews, I would be so nervous that I would keep drinking the water they offered - glasses and glasses. So often, that one interviewer asked if I would like them to open a window, I obviously needed to cool down. Most of the time I would be lightly shaking, and my voice would always come out weird when answering the first question.
I was so caught up in what they were going to ask, and how to give a perfect answer, that I failed to relax into it, be myself and appear in anyway competent. Obviously this was a major hurdle in landing a job. My eureka moment came when I was interviewed for a marketing internship. On the day, I couldn’t find the office due to a slight mix up in my mind between the word “road” and “street”. This led to me racing at top speed up and down Dublin’s cobbles, in heels, four times. Luckily I was in plenty of time (Tip #1!) so I made it with a minute to spare, complete with sweaty red face and out of breath (at least this time I felt the water was warranted).
I wouldn’t recommend doing this, at all in any way, but exercise is a great way to calm nerves. I was interviewed by two people at the same time, good cop and bad cop. Bad cop did most of the talking and got me so far out of my comfort zone I forgot to be nervous. I couldn’t possibly have prepared for his questions if I had tried. They seemed so ridiculously hard in comparison to any other interview I’d been to that I thought, pretty much from the moment he started talking, that there was no way I would get the job. This was an a-ha! moment, because it meant I relaxed. I stopped caring about perfectly rehearsed answers and just went with the flow.
I walked out 99% sure I would never hear from them again, but I was wrong. They offered me a job. This was a fantastic learning curve for me, and it gave me great experience that I carried into later interviews. I had found my rhythm and what worked for me.
So without further ado, here are my top tips to help you not be your own worst enemy on interview day:
There is a very serious problem affecting graduates in this country. In my opinion it is an injustice to advertise six and nine month unpaid placements to graduates; it is plain demeaning and arguably bad for business. The injustice lies not in the offer of experience which is extremely valuable to graduates of every discipline, but in the requirement that these people work as part of a team of paid staff whilst receiving no monetary benefit whatsoever.
What I find particularly confusing about this situation is that these unpaid internships are acceptable in these organisations in the first place. There are massive concerns around workers rights as well as worker accountability. In relation to the value that these interns provide to institutions/organisations and businesses around the country, the question must be asked: What mechanisms are in place to ensure the protection of the business in the interest of a trusting work environment?
What odds is it to an unpaid intern should a project be mismanaged or a file slip into the wrong hands? Is there any incentive for these unpaid interns to gather any useful experience in these organisations where there is no monetary benefit? Is the incentive to gain experience enough for young graduates? Do interns feel demeaned by the lack of financial support provided by employers? As an ex-intern myself, though my experience only lasted a short three months, I felt my position was at times, pointless.
I received no financial assistance in terms of lunch or travel expenses and though I thoroughly enjoyed the tasks related to the sector I was qualified in, many of the tasks appointed to me were menial. Therefore I must again pose the question: where is the value for interns?
The injustice also lies in the lack of activity in the rural parts of the country. It is a lot easier for a graduate to do an unpaid internship whilst living in the family home. There is little financial stress on these graduates, in comparison with those who travel from rural areas to live in hubs of activity such as Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Galway.
As a graduate from a rural county myself I worked part time (20-25) hours during my internship which was Mon-Fri, 10-5, approximately 35 hours per week, meaning I was working on average 57-59 hours per week for three months and barely managing to make my rent payment each week. There is a massive injustice here and I am not relying on my own experience to state this fact.
I have spoken to many graduates from rural areas that have had to give up internships due to stress and financial instability. I know many graduates living in the family home in cities who openly admit they could not have done unpaid work experience with the stress of rent hanging over them each week.
Simply put it is an injustice to which there is very little attention paid. I would like to open up a discussion on this subject in order to attract stories from young graduates on their internship experiences. It affects the independence of young graduates from rural areas and needs to be addressed.
If you would like to write, blog or create content for SpunOut.ie, drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
When I first got the Internet, it could only be accessed in my Dad's office. Then we got it in our house and in truth, it was neither practical nor fit for purpose. The amount of time it took Google to load a search equated to how long it took me to pick up an encyclopedia and find what I needed.
Now, it’s totally different. My constant questioning as a kid could now be satisfied in 0.24 seconds a question. Anything I wonder can be immediately Googled and found out. Yet, the thing is – who says if it’s true. There’s a lot of rubbish online.
Only when I started writing academic essays at college did I start questioning the vague “facts” and “experts” online. For once, I had to read something and internally say ‘prove it’. Suddenly, I found that most of what I read and believed to be true couldn’t be proved. I couldn’t stick it in an essay even if it seemed true because I had no proof that it was. Now, let’s take this back to me when I was younger. Back then I had an encyclopedia, it was years of quality research and just by it being in the book was enough to say that it was probably true.
If I went online now as a kid with questions, or to do some research for an essay – once you start questioning, you realise that a lot of what you read is hearsay. Like basing news on gossip or facts or legend. There’s nothing stopping me starting a blog and saying I have a well-earned doctorate in Astrology and expect people to listen. And funnily enough, they probably would. It was only when I needed to prove to my lecturer that what I was saying was true that I began to realise the importance of fact-checks.
Online is of course only going to become more and more used for information, and I hate how it’s killing centuries of books and well-researched information. I probably wouldn’t have an encyclopedia or dictionary in my house if I were growing up in Ireland today. Yet, that's not to say that I don’t need facts. To reiterate the old adage: quality not quantity. Ours is supposedly the age of Information but without citations it’s just nonsense.
In my head, creating a better Internet for young people looks like a platform where they can ask questions, but are answered with actual facts. With the internet becoming the go to for information, we need it more than ever before.
To Read When:
You are feeling a little inferior: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Whether it’s someone at work, a close friend or family member, we’ve all been in a position where we just don’t seem to measure up. Spare a thought then, for the narrator of Du Maurier’s story (who we aren’t even given the name of) who goes to live in her formidable husband’s estate only to be reminded at every turn of his late wife – the aforementioned Rebecca. This is first and foremost a suspense novel, and manages to beautifully build the tension over the course of the story.
You want/need to get motivated: The Now Habit by Neil Fiore
Procrastination: unless you have superhuman willpower, you will have fallen victim to it at some point or another. Well – fear not! This book is on hand to help. I am not normally a huge self-help book enthusiast, but for The Now Habit, I will make an exception. Importantly, not only does Fiore talk about the benefits of making and sticking to a work schedule, he also highlights the importance of balance – taking a well-earned break is key in ensuring top-notch productivity.
You’re in the mood for romance: One Day by David Nicholls
As with the self-help books, romantic novels aren’t top of my ‘to-read’ list, Nicholls tale however, is something a little bit different. It tracks two people – university friends who had a bit of a fling – over twenty years, catching up with them on one day in July to see how their lives are progressing. It’s a highly original idea for a story and will have you laughing out loud and crying buckets in equal measure.
Nothing beats a bit of fantasy: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
OK, so not one book, but seven. Nonetheless, if you haven’t already experienced the magic that is these books, I urge you to do so. Now. Whilst they can be enjoyed at any age, I will always be indebted to J.K Rowling for introducing countless children to reading. The books are not only gripping, moving and incredibly well-written; they also provide a comforting sense of nostalgia for those of us to whom the annual midnight bookshop opening is a much cherished memory.
A bit of literary cluedo is called for: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Christie is another author for whom I have a bit of a nostalgic fondness. Although I am not such an avid reader now, I highly recommend the majority of her books to anyone in search of an easy read. This particular one has the added benefits of an exotic location and the world’s best detective – Hercule Poirot himself!
You want something real: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
Although fictional, Filer’s experience as a mental health nurse in the UK is clear from his understanding of mental ill health. An engaging and emotional story, with well-rounded, vulnerable characters, this makes for a gripping, informative and highly emotional read.
You aren’t afraid to cry: Me before you by Jojo Moyes
What was that I said about not liking romantic novels?! Well, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, I suppose. This is another tear-jerker centring on a man who has been left paralysed in an accident, and the woman who goes to care for him. A story about love, friendship and forgiveness, this is not as light and fluffy as the title page may suggest. Never was the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its’ cover’ so accurate…
You want to be empowered: How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Whether or not you are in fact a woman, I would strongly urge you to read this book. Told in a semi-autobiographical fashion, Moran gives us her feminist take on the trials and tribulations of life as a lady. As ever with Moran, it’s sharp, witty and gives you pause to think.
You want to let your imagination run wild: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
It’s been a while since I’ve read this intricate thriller, but I love it as much as ever. Telling the mysterious story of a young boy who picks up the last remaining copy of an old book, and spends years trying to unravel the mystery and intrigue associated with its’ author. Anyone who appreciates the joy of reading will fall in love with this compelling tale.
You have time to spare: (because you will NOT be able to put this one down): The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Boasting possibly the best opening paragraph of anything I’ve read to date, this book has too much going for it for it to be left unread. A former colleague recommended it to me, assuring me that I would soon be hooked – she wasn’t lying! A smart, stylish thriller/coming-of-age tale, the book tells the story of a group of college friends who – in search of enlightenment and eccentric genius –end up making a terrible mistake. I won’t say much more, except that I hope you take my advice and pick it up pronto. You won’t regret it.
What books would make your list?
I lived a very insular life as a teenager. So much so that I never realised just how many opportunities there are for young people living in Europe. I also didn’t know about youth clubs or organisations – not even SpunOut.ie – when I was in school. This makes me sound incredibly old but I’m only 24.
So when I interned at SpunOut.ie earlier this year the whole world opened up for me. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt insignificant as a young person – at least before I worked for SpunOut.ie.
Politics, economics and decision-making seemed so far to me. And I’ve always unconsciously felt that young people are not taken seriously in society – we’re just young, naïve entities that get drunk too often and do silly things even more often.
The lads at SpunOut.ie taught me that being young is powerful and I have a right to fight for what I want – inclusion, respect and equal opportunity. This year I’ve also learned that in Europe you can make many steps in this direction yourself by simply finding opportunities and applying for them.
I now work for the Council of Europe on an online Human Rights youth campaign called the No Hate Speech Movement. Getting the job meant leaving Ireland and moving to France. I’ve been in Strasbourg since May of this year.
I would never have heard about this job if it wasn’t for SpunOut.ie – I applied to volunteer on the campaign first, with the support of this youth organisation. It being an online campaign about hate speech – which to me fell under the category of cyber bullying too – I felt it was my calling to get involved. It meant I would finally work towards getting over being bullied in school.
When I was offered a volunteering role within the campaign I packed my bags for Budapest for a 10-day training course at the European Youth Centre Budapest (which I wrote about here) and there the opportunity of actually working for the Council of Europe presented itself.
Before this I had worked in two jobs – both unfulfilling, one of which deeply affected my mental health. Working for SpunOut.ie since has given me ample time and space to breathe, and to work on my own quality of life, as well as those of others. And this is one of the reasons I’m writing today: if you want change in your life, you have the power to do it yourself.
My job isn’t the only opportunity I’ve had this year. I’ve grown adept at applying for youth opportunities in Ireland and the rest of Europe – editing and reediting my CV has become something of an addiction these days.
A friend forwarded my way a ‘call for young journalists’ earlier this year; the Forum for European Journalism Students was offering up to 30 young people the opportunity to learn about multimedia, journalism, activism and debating in their FEJS Multimedia Summer Camp in Latvia in August 2013.
One of the easiest ways to get what you want is to be passionate about the thing you want. I’ve found that writing powerful motivation letters go a looooong way in getting chosen for opportunities you apply for – stand out and always be professional, a tip from me to you!
I read my acceptance letter and the information pack that followed and set off for Riga on 12 August. I met my group leader and other participants at the airport and we drove to a large hostel in an isolated forest in Sigulda, just outside of Riga, Latvia. I would spend two weeks there taking workshops in video editing and audio production, public speaking and social media – all for the cost of a return flight and taxi fare, which would be reimbursed to me before I left.
It was a great learning experience and after it I went back to work in Strasbourg. The connections I’d made during the summer served to be fruitful as another opportunity came beckoning – the European Youth Media Days at the European Parliament in Brussels. I’d heard about this training opportunity before, earlier in the year, when I wasn’t quite so brash about applying for things.
At the EYMD you represent your media organisation and write about European issues from the epicentre of the EU, the European Parliament in Belgium. This year each participant has to pitch a story under the theme: ‘National Problems, European Solutions: Is the EU grass still greener?’
I had decided that I wasn’t equipped or good enough to apply – which is one of the worst things you can tell yourself. If you say this statement often about yourself then you won’t get to where you want to go in life. Trust me, THEY will tell you if your application is not good enough, so just apply and be brave enough to accept rejection.
Straight from the high of getting Latvia and working in France, I decided to bite the bullet and apply. I found out last week that I, among 100 or so other young journalists in Europe, have the chance to report from the European Parliament. I’ll pack my bags for Brussels 15 October. I’ll follow up to SpunOut.ie about this trip.
I’m nervous but excited, looking forward but peering backwards – I’ll never forget how much I believed I, as a young person, was not worthy of opportunity. An insular life had its merit – I read a lot and thought a lot, but I also believed I couldn’t do a lot.
And if you feel in any way similar to my teenage self I’m here to tell you: you can do it, just find your passion and apply yourself to it.
House hunting can be a tedious and time-consuming job but if you really want to find the right place for you, have a read of these tips.
Finishing school is a time for some serious thinking (and dreaming) about your future: Cue deep breath! In Leaving Cert or A Levels/GCSE year, you need to decide what’s best for YOU and whether you want to continue studying in college or university, take some time out, get a job or apprenticeship or do something totally different. Cue another deep breath!
A glance at the huge number of options out there:
Travel and volunteering:
Not everyone wants to jump straight into more study after school and even more people don’t want to get a job right after school or university!
Start a band, join a monastery, try to make it on Broadway, open a gallery, join the circus, start a blog, be a busker, write a book, open a community garden, spend some quality time with your gran ...
Remember, this life is a blank canvas. Splash the colour and take the path that feels right to you, no matter what naysayers grunt and groan about. It is your life. The sky, your imagination, and your determination are the limit!
With the recent wave (or tsunami depending on your circle of friends!) of emigration, many people now have friends or family living abroad. It can be difficult and lonely, but thankfully there are LOTS of ways to keep in touch. With the wonders of modern technology, you may actually end up talking/communicating more with friends/family abroad than you did when they lived at home!
Here are some ideas for keeping in touch: