Advice for NQTs starting their first job.


Beginning your first job can be overwhelming. You’re newly qualified, you’ve finally gotten a job, perhaps you’ve had to move across the country but you are delighted to get a chance to do what you’ve always wanted for yourself. Your dream of beginning a teacher has begun. I was the same back in September 2008.

Today I'm taking you back to my own NQT days - to July 2008 -  with a letter I would have loved to receive from my 'older' self so that you too can get some perspective and learn some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years.

A Letter to 'Orla the NQT'

Dear Orla,

Congratulations on qualifying!! It was a crazy few weeks, wasn't it.? With the Gaeltacht, making good friends there, cramming Irish before the oral and then the exams - 3 days spent in a tiny hotel room in the city centre – cramming and going for dinner with friends. (Bring proper shoes, not just flip flops! You’ll need them!)

I know this time is boring for you – sitting under the sun from the skylight, applying for jobs, while the family enjoy the summer...  isn’t exactly your idea of fun but it’s worth it.

You eventually will get a job – but not until the end of the Summer – so lighten up a bit!! In the grand scheme of things, everything works out! Phew!!

Last-minute, you get a job away from home ON YOUR OWN MERIT – no ties or connections with the school so there are real jobs out there. You'll be teaching Senior Infants.

I’d like to offer you this advice

  • Have the craic with your friends – enjoy this Summer. The friends you made with Hibernia College will be lasting friendships (spoiler alert - 2 of the 4 of ye will change careers).

  • Pay more attention to school Inspectors Reports. Websites aren’t really a thing now, but you may learn some information about the school by tailoring your CV by using the information from Inspectors Reports.

  • STOP BUYING STUFF – I mean it!! Handbags, costume jewellery and SCHOOL STUFF. It’s expensive and you never ask schools to reimburse you. The internet will be such a fantastic source of resources that you can use again and again. Those teachers manuals that you think you will use – wait to find out what class you have first. Then consider the investment.

  • Don’t take things personally – It’s your skills applying for jobs that are at fault – not your teaching ability! Get someone to offer their opinion on your CV.

  • This will not be easy – but it’s worth it. Your passion for children will never end, but your frustration with paperwork and losing so much personal time means that you will transition from teaching. You will help in your own way, however! But that's a mystery for another day.

Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat a Orla!

Bonne chance,



If I'd had this advice back in July 2008 - I'd have been more content I think. Everything works out well in the end!

Share this blog with someone who needs to hear it.

If you are an NQT and are looking to start your first role, check out my All-in-1 Guides for Acing Your Interviews and Acing Your Job Applications designed specifically for NQTs.



There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!