In celebration of 20 years of Forestry at WIT, we talk to Linda Coghlan, forester, The Forestry Company
Forester Linda Coghlan changed her career path from accountancy to forestry so she went from mathematics and bookkeeping to GIS mapping and land management. Linda takes pleasure in her job and says: “If you enjoy variability in your working day; being part of an industry which is not yet hitting its prime; the great outdoors; a love of nature and peaceful surroundings then forestry is for you.”
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Mapping; felling licence applications; reporting; management plans.
Describe a typical day
Office based mostly with periods of site visits and training days.
What are the main challenges?
Bringing together your own skills with that which is needed from the employers’ perspective, any gap in knowledge is then filled withfurther training. The work is so broad that not all aspects can be covered in a job description, this makes the work both interesting and challenging at times.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Strong work ethic with the ability to work and be motivated while working alone.
Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping, tree measurement and site assessments.
What's not so cool?
Data entry on excessively long spreadsheets.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I met with the employer at WIT careers day. I was interviewed shortly after careers day.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Changing career from accountancy to forestry.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My father and Marianne Lyons, course leader of the Certificate in Forestry Teagasc, Ballyhaise College.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Yes, working from home is a big plus.
Education and training
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Mathematics and bookkeeping. Career path changed, so all forestry subjects at college.
What is your education to date?
- National Certificate in Forestry from Teagasc, Ballyhaise College
- Bachelor of Science in Forestry, Waterford Institute of Technology
- Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Land Management in Forestry, WIT
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
All forestry related subjects have been used to date, but GIS mapping for me is the most important.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Yes, I engage in Continuous Professional Development. I have also completed the Native Woodland Scheme course sponsored by my employer.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Developing the GIS mapping system to attain a higher standard of mapping interface. Being involved in the Certification Pilot Project which is at present my main focus.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Ability to work outside the normal office environment while still being part of a team.
What is your dream job?
Forest Service inspector.
Advice for others
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Ability to engage with clients in a professional and knowledgeable manner. Being motivated enough to design your own daily tasks in order to get the work completed as well as being a productive member of staff. To fill in your own knowledge gaps, if there is something you are working on and don’t know then research it and find the answer.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
For women considering a career in forestry, the physical ability required is more fitness and technique rather than strength. If you enjoy variability in your working day; being part of an industry which is not yet hitting its prime; the great outdoors; a love of nature and peaceful surroundings then forestry is for you.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Summer work with forestry companies both here and abroad if possible. Working in forestry office based environments as well as with forestry contractors.
These WIT Forestry graduate testimonials were compiled by the Forestry Careers Promotion Group to mark the 20-year anniversary of Forestry courses at WIT in 2018.