If you could change your career choice, what profession would you choose?


Reachable (adjective) = achievable/possible to achieve

Something springs to mind (idiom) = something is the first thing you think of related to a particular topic

Realm (noun) = an area/field of interest

Probation (noun) = a period when a prisoner is released from jail and their behaviour is monitored.

Competence (noun) = the ability to do something successfully

Aghast (adjective) = filled with horror/shock

-odd (suffix) = slightly more than (e.g. 17 odd years)

The presenter says he loves to ______________

Brid works in with ____________

Brid hates singing.

Brid really enjoyed school and was a talented student

The other career Brid would consider would be as a _____________

Where was Chris born?

Chris ended up as a primary school teacher...

Chris would like to be a ________________

Brid says that some people she knows made the wrong career choice.

A lot of kids now want to be a _________

Chris thinks children should be...

Brid thinks that it has become easier for people to change careers in the 30s or 40s.


Presenter: First up tonight, we’re gonna talk about choices. Not in exams, in career but in general. Choices in life by the time we’re in our mid-thirties, most of us, not all, but most of us, are in the occupation that will probably take us through to retirement. We might change employers but generally we’ll stay in the same occupation. But we do daydream – oh how I do love to daydream during the day on Radio Ulster about what might have been. 81771 on the text. So if there was a different career you could have taken, a different path, what would it have been? Now the gates are fairly open for your answers on this, but I think we have to keep it kind of reachable. So where as you might say that Chris Donnolly might want to have been an astronaut in another life, not sure we’re gonna let you have that one. Chris is with us tonight, good evening Chris.

Chris: Good evening Vinnie.

P: And also I am joined here by chief probation officer Bríd Gadd. Good evening to you. It’s almost like producer Seamus is trying to say something when he puts a vice principal and a former probation officer in front of me and then makes me feel a little bit nervous. In fact, I think I can hear someone jangling keys. What do you think Bríd, if there was a different path you could’ve taken, what springs to mind?

Bríd: Well, you said not to soar into the realms of the unattainable.

P: Not just yet.

Bríd: But I’m going to do that a wee bit. No em, I have to say I loved my job. I worked in the probation service for thirty one years and I’ve never had a dull moment. I had some very disappointing moments, but I was never bored, which was brilliant. But having said that, I would loved to have been an opera singer, and to have had the voice to be able to be an opera singer.

P: This is dangerous now because when someone says that they’d love to be a singer it makes you want to ask can you sing and give us a couple of notes, Bríd?

B: No I couldn’t give you a couple of notes, but, I like to sing and I’ve been singing with choirs and, I for a while, for a short time took singing lessons to relieve stress actually and it was brilliant. I used to go along every week and have singing lessons with Jonathan Gregory. We’d sing frivolously, it wasn’t to learn music or whatever, it was just as a stress reduction, so, I’m passionate about singing but that idea. I heard a young woman last week in the St. Anne’s Cathedral concert that was singing as part of a choir. And she, her name is Rachel Woods, and she’s one of the up and coming beautiful young opera singers in Northern Ireland, and I thought “isn’t that amazing to have that sort of voice”. So that’s what I’d love to have done.

P: It’s difficult, that one, though, Bríd. If I’m being totally honest, I don’t know if it’s fair because to an extent singing is gifted, so if there was another one you were going to pick, if it was “Right Bríd..”

B: Within my competence?

P: Well that’s another thing as well, that’s a bit difficult to gauge because, we can be trained to do things and become good at things, that naturally you wouldn’t be. But say for example, we were in your Careers class in school and I said “Bríd, now, you’ve been misbehaving at the back of the class, but we need to focus now, next year you’re out in the big bad world of work”, what would you like to do in terms of the different areas of school that you enjoyed?

B: That’s a difficult one because I didn’t actually much enjoy school and I was a fairly mediocre student. I suppose, I mean, I left the probation office when I was fifty three and I was approached by the Irish news and asked to write a column and I was aghast at the idea, you know, me, write? What? But actually I quite enjoyed that, so now it would’ve been within my area of competence, maybe, to have done Journalism, and I think that’s a very exciting thing to do, but you guys will tell me otherwise. It’s probably boring and stressful etc.

P: People like to think that when they talk about showbiz and radio and TV and whatever else like that, that encompasses, that that’s the way it is, but it’s not always the case! Chris, well let’s talk about you! Now what were you like as a child when you were going through those final years of education?
Chris: Well, when I left school, I went to Queens and I did a politics degree but so didn’t really send me in any particular direction so I finished that I didn’t know what I wanted to do

P: Why did you pick the politics then?

Chris: I’d a bit of an interest in it, although, it was either that or computer studies, because I was also into computers and for A level I went for the politics so I decided to do a masters in politics and was working at the time as a domestic in Musgrave Park hospital west I stayed there for six years, I also worked, my father worked in a bar, so I worked in the bar. So, I finished that masters and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I applied to a number of jobs and I didn’t get anywhere. I suppose at the time what I was doing in the Master’s degree – I was working with undergraduates each week, taking tutorial groups, and I quite liked the notion of working in a teaching capacity, so I applied for a PGC and then that was really me on my way. Although, I qualified to teach secondary, and it was just by chance that I ended up teaching in a primary school and I’ve never looked back, and that was 17 odd years ago.

P: So given those 17 years of experience would you like to have done it again? What else tickles your fancy?

Chris: well, I have no regrets, absolutely love working with children.

P: Come on Chris!

Chris: The vocations wonderful, but, if I could go in another direction, at some point in life, I would love to be a sports commentator. I absolutely love sports, of all types. I was born in America, so, even though I moved here quite young, I have stayed very passionate. I don’t sleep much; I’d be up till all hours watching baseball, basketball, American football, anything going on across the water. And I love local sports too and I can be found, most break times outside with the P4s, out loud commentating on how the match is going.

P: do you do it in a American accent? If you don’t, I’m disappointed.
Chris: I don’t. I don’t need to put on the American accent.

P: That’s one of the things, when we’re younger, sometimes we are maybe more honest about what we want to do. We hear about people saying, maybe it is a bit more unattainable; “ I want to be an actor”,” I want to be on the stage”, “I want to be a singer” or whatever, and then as we get older, we get this reality check, as though, you can’t really do that, you’ve got to be realistic, you think is that really fair, or should we be more, trying to still be kids want in for it.

B: I think nowadays, we should be much more in the mind of do what you want because we’re going to live a long time and, you know, I come across…. now almost… friend’s grandchildren who aren’t doing well at school but I kind of say they’ve all the time in the world, they can go back to education. Fly their kite, do something mad, go traveling or whatever, but Vinnie, in a way, I disagree, I think maybe it’s changed when I was young we all wanted to be teachers or nurses. We had this romantic idea of what this kind of caring role was going to be without actually thinking through. A lot of people I know went into teaching and hated children.

P: Aha now be careful, I think I’ve met some of them before, but anyway.

B: We’re scared of children.

P: I’ve had some really great teachers. I need to be careful in case I get in trouble.

B: yeah, I mean, one of the things about teaching, which would’ve, in my generation would’ve been one of the career choices for young girls who went to university or whatever. It’s very difficult, it’s demanding and it is exhausting and you’ve really got to love what you’re doing in order to get by. So I’m really glad the world has and become bigger for some people and that they do

Chris: one of the things we do is in primary school but we still enjoy doing, is careers week, and it’s just inviting people in to talk to the children, I know it’s probably something more associated with secondary but we’d bring people all sorts of people in. On the last day we ask people to dress up as what they want to be and it’s always a great day but just as you were saying it, you know, some of the careers people used to choose. One of the most popular one when I was asking kids this year was to be a YouTuber, and it just shows you how, a lot of teachers didn’t even know what that was but I just thought it was a shame.

P: I’m still not even sure how people make money out of that, but to be fair, we’ll keep our friend producer Seamus but I just think you’d be a good YouTuber. What about from your perspective then Chris, as a teacher, as someone in education, when someone says that to you, what do you say? “well, good, you know, stick at your geography and you might get there”.

Chris: Well, I think from a primary school end, you want children to be full of aspiration and full of hope. It’s all about, I suppose in so many jobs now you know, the economy is changing. It’s skills that children need, so I don’t think it should be about curtailing their hope, their aspiration. It’s about, you know, saying to them if you work hard, and stride to achieve then, you know, then why not wish for that.

Presenter: With all those YouTubers blabbering about nonsense for hours on end and then people love it for some reason! But then here, other people, what Seamus said in my ear but some people make a good living out of that. And there’s some people talking about this on Twitter as well, and I’m surprised at the reaction to some of the career paths that they might have taken. Chris says he would’ve been a news reader but David says hopefully he will get a high skilled trade so he can work anywhere outside. Alan says a large part of him would liked to have been a farmer, and that surprised me because you would imagine that people would want to do that kind of more fantastic or assume to be crazy kind of roles. What about Bríd’s idea, and maybe this goes back to the fact that we are all living a bit longer, hopefully, touch wood, but um, you can change careers as you get older, you don’t have to stay in that one route and you can be daring in your forties or whatever when people think “well look I’m in the career I’m in now, you gotta stick at it.” You can move somewhere else.

Bríd: When you move somewhere else, I think the problem is though, you know, when you’re in your thirty fourties, maybe you’re settling down, you wanna get a house, you start having kids and it is more difficulty that to have a secure job and fly to fancy, and it takes a lot of courage, I suppose, really, it takes that absolute dedication. Yes, people have done it, I mean I changed careers when I was fifty, did different things. I had made enough money, I didn’t need to worry about overlay about having enough income to feed and clothe and educate the kids, and I think it is difficult for people to have that. I think what we should aim to do is actually have this idea of career breaks. You know, universities give lecturers a year off.

P: We talked about this earlier on the programme, where you would… they would take 10 percent of your salary and you could take time off.