Noeleen McArdle used to be a science teacher, but after moving to New Zealand from Ireland she decided she wanted a more hands-on science role. She enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Laboratory Technology at Ara to get the applied science skills she needed for her new career.
“I heard about the course and it sounded like it was the best-suited for me. It was only one year of study and it had a big workplace element to it that would get me into a real lab,” she says.
Noeleen had been working as a hospital aide since arriving in New Zealand and was nervous about returning to study. She says that the support she received at Ara made her quickly realise she had made the right decision. “The tutors were great. They were really supportive and the small class sizes on this course mean they really know who you all are. I cannot praise them highly enough.”
The first semester of the qualification covered essential lab skills and during the second semester, Noeleen spent much of her study time on work placement with Canterbury Southern Community Laboratories. She says that the strong focus on practical study and workplace experience made her feel confident about entering a job when she finished.
“I loved being in the lab and the course gave you an idea of what’s expected when you go out and work in the industry.”
Noeleen also enjoyed the research project component of the diploma, where she got to investigate and analyse the levels of Lactobacillus bacteria in probiotic yogurt.
“It’s good to experience a research project from start to finish because there is so much science research going on that I could be involved with through a future lab role.”
Noeleen’s career aim is to work in microbiology labs because of the variety in this area of work. “It's fascinating. There are micro-organisms all around us, in everything, and the impact they can have on our lives is massive.”
Ara has strong industry connections and Noeleen was able to quickly secure a job at Hill Laboratories when she finished her studies. She’s since moved to a full time permanent position at Canterbury Health Laboratories.