Are you worried you might have chosen the wrong course? Do you think it means you’ll be stuck in a career you hate for the rest of your life? In this series of articles we talk to people who have changed their careers from the the course they did in college to how they make their living today.
Melanie Wrynn completed her Leaving Certificate in 1996 and had been accepted to do a degree in Science at Trinity College Dublin. However, she decided to take a year out and travel to Brazil to volunteer for a charity working with street children. “I really wanted to do something to help! It really bothered me that I had no skills, I didn’t know what to do to help so I just washed dishes the whole time I was there!”
On returning to Ireland Melanie decided to change her course from Science and chose to do Social Work instead. Melanie explains that this course is a broad one covering many aspects of this field. However, she says that while she had no particular area of social work that she wanted to specialise in, her previous experience in Brazil drew her to homelessness. “I had a sense I wanted to work with people experiencing homelessness, but this actually led me to the area of addiction and working in an addiction service was my first job after qualifying.”
In 2002 Melanie was involved in setting up the first service for individuals and families in addiction in the Bray area. She worked with this service for four years before a number of things came together to open up a new career path for her. “Horses have always been a big part of my life and I had kept this going as my hobby while working in social work.” Melanie had competed at Eventing at National and International level both as a junior and young rider( under 21) and she continued this passion while working in addiction services.
However, when a friend in the Eventing business needed some help, and having begun to feel some of the stresses of the tough nature of working with people in addiction, Melanie took the opportunity to combine her hobby and her social work career. “I went part-time initially. Then the opportunityopened up to go professional, working in Eventing full-time with the backing of a sponsor . This gave me the opportunity to compete internayionally at senior level.”
If working as a social worker presented challenges, working in the eventing business presented a different set of difficulties, one of these being the recession! “When I started in Eventing full-time, the Celtic Tiger was booming. But I was lucky, I saw some difficulties coming down the line for my sponsor and I had started to look at opening my own business.”
So in 2012 Melanie started her own business Ardeo Sport Horses in Enniskerry Co. Wicklow. “It’s tough running your own show! But I’ve learned it takes time to build up a business.” Melanie trains and sells horses for Eventing and also coaches while still competing herself. Melanie’s volunteering continues also and she sits on the Board of Directors of Tiglinn residential addiction service in Wicklow.
“It’s funny, over the last few years, what I have learned about people, I have learned through working with horses! I still look for ways to link these two careers! I can see how horses can teach us so much about ourselves. I was training a little girl recently and I knew from the way she was handling her horse that she might be being bullied. I said it to her mother and it turned out she was. I was able to work with her around her assertiveness and building her confidence through how she was with the horses.”