Connecting Cork home and abroad

In our My Career section, we talk to the Marketing and Diaspora Assistant, Cork Foundation, Laura Hallissey
Connecting Cork home and abroad
Laura Hallissey of The Cork Foundation.

Name: Laura Hallissey

Age: 32

Lives: Bandon, Co. Cork

Job title: Marketing and Diaspora Assistant at Cork Foundation

Education background: After I did my Leaving Cert I went to Colaiste Stiofain Naofa and studied Media and Radio. I then worked for a few years but left in 2010 to go back and get my undergraduate degree. I studied Arts in UCC and then went on to achieve my Masters in English.

Hobbies: Reading, socialising and surfing the net.

Describe your job in five words: New, interesting, different, connecting and exciting.

Describe yourself in five words: Interested, curious, talkative, over-thinker and loves people.

Personality needed for this kind of work? In order to do this kind of work, I think you have to be able to cope well with change. No two days are the same in Cork Foundation. You must have an interest in community and in people. Reaching out and connecting with people is a big part of this role.

How long are you doing this job? A few months.

How did you get this job? My career path hasn’t always followed a straight line, I will admit. There have been times where I just didn’t know what I wanted to do but I did always want to work.

Part of my course in Media and Radio after school involved placement. I wanted to work for one of the newspapers as I had journalistic aspirations. However, I was advised to do radio instead. At first I was a bit dubious but it turned out to be the best decision. I began my placement in Bandon in what was formally known as 103FM, now C103. I loved it and after I finished my course I got a job there as a radio producer. I adored this job. I made some truly great friends and learned so much there.

I began to see the joys of working in a community and how much of a difference small things can really make to a lot of people. I realise now that since then any job I have had has had this element to it. Whether or not I intended this to happen. I’m not sure.

After three years I returned to education to get my undergrad and then my Masters in English. I think everyone should go to college after having worked. Trust me, you appreciate it a lot more that way!

After UCC I worked as a PA to Fine Gael Cork South West TD Jim Daly and then as an Administrator for the Getting Started programme in Age Action. Once again, both these roles had a lot to do with helping people in the community. The Getting Started Programme teaches older people to use computers and other devices.

I really enjoyed this job as once again I got to interact with people and help to make a real difference in their lives. I loved meeting the participants and volunteers in this programme. I was amazed by how much of their own time the volunteers were willing to give up without complaint. All the people in the class had led such interesting lives and to be honest they taught me much more than I ever taught them.

After I finished in Age Action I was ready for another challenge. I had heard of the great work that the Cork Foundation was doing and that they were looking for someone to join their team. So I went for an interview and was delighted when I was offered the role. Once again this role focuses on the community.

The Cork Foundation aims to connect Cork people globally with Cork people locally. Their key focus is on giving back to Cork in a meaningful way. I enjoy this work as I think there is real value in showing how much potential there really is in Cork. It connects people to their roots and that’s always a good thing.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? You need to have a good level of English and communication skills to do this job. As well as a good knowledge of computers and people skills.

Describe a day at work: Every day in this role is different. My role is to assist with the marketing and digital needs of the organisation. There are many facets to this as the digital world is always changing. I must keep up to date with social media and with what’s going on in the local community. I must also conduct research and provide content for our website. It is important to keep people informed.

We recently ran an event to launch our Friends of the Foundation Campaign. We want to reach out to those who have a keen interest and affinity with Cork and who want to give back to Cork and improve the lives of people in their community.

I oversaw this event and made sure it ran smoothly. This involved reaching out to the Cork business community and inviting them to engage with us, making them aware of who we are and how we can help them to give back to Cork. We then had to secure the venue and make sure we had all we needed to run a successful event.

My role also involves reaching out to Cork’s diaspora by connecting with the community, providing information and training.

There are millions of Irish people abroad who wish to stay connected to their home and Cork Foundation can help them to do that. We are gearing up to run an event in London later this year that involves reaching out to Irish people abroad.

Technology is a great tool, of course, but we cannot forget how to forge these connections ourselves. That’s what community is all about after all. It is a very varied and interesting role.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: I think that every new job involves stress as you attempt to navigate new ground and learn new things. Fortunately, I enjoy a challenge.

Do you work with others or on your own? I do some work on my own but the Cork Foundation is hugely focused on connecting and meeting with others in the community.

The CEO Padraic Vallelly and I often work together trying to get everything done. We recently moved into Republic of Work on the South Mall and this sense of community has been a real asset. It is a great resource in terms of meeting new people and finding answers. There is a wealth of knowledge on offer there and the staff are so helpful. All you have to do is ask.

When do you plan to retire or give up working? I only just started in this role so I’m definitely not thinking about retirement just yet!

Best bits: The best part of my job is connecting people and seeing what a difference it can make to Cork. It has been a real thrill seeing how much the funding provided can change people’s lives for the better.

Worst bits: There are not enough hours in the day and I am impatient with myself as I learn the ropes. I would love to be able to snap my fingers and know it all but I’m learning that’s not how it works.

Advice to those who want your job? To those who are looking to get into this field, I would advise them to stay curious and ask questions. Keep making connections with people. That’s the beauty of living in a place like Cork, its small and you never know where your talents could be put to good use.

Don’t be afraid to try, chances are if you fail you will learn a lot more anyway and do better the next time.

Any other comments? I myself have a disability and at times jobs were hard to come by. Not all roles were open to me.

Some places were inaccessible in more ways than one. Sometimes it was very disheartening but I learned to value what skills I do have and not to take them for granted.

After all, we are all unique and we all bring something different to the table.

Difference is a strength, not a weakness, in my opinion. It makes you better and allows you to appreciate opportunity when it comes knocking.

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