Author Louise O'Neill tells students to "follow your dreams"

She had what many would have considered the dream job — interning for the senior style director of Elle magazine and living a Devil Wears Prada-style life in New York.

Author Louise O'Neill tells students to "follow your dreams"

But West Cork-born Louise O’Neill, 29, who gave it all up to follow her first love of writing, told second-level students yesterday that it was only when she let go of the idea of what success should look and feel like that real success came.

“Society doesn’t encourage us enough to dream,” the best-selling author said. “Instead, it teaches us that we need to be practical, that we need to find a job that pays the bills, and that listening to our intuition is nonsensical.

“If you can learn to just do whatever feels right for you — not for your parents or teachers or community — but for yourself, then you won’t go wrong.”

Louise, from Clonakilty, was one of several young entrepreneurs who addressed a major student enterprise conference in Inchydoney Lodge and Spa yesterday.

The blogger and author of Only Ever Yours encouraged the students attending the ‘Leaders On Our Level’ conference to trust their own instincts and pursue what they love.

The conference, hosted by the West Cork Schools Enterprise Programme, was aimed at encouraging the hundreds of fourth and fifth year students undertaking the enterprise programme to realise the possibilities available to them outside of the school gates.

The programme, run by the Local Enterprise Office in Cork North and Cork West, exposes students to the realities and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in every stage of business development.

Other speakers included Ciaran Sheahan, the founder of MuttMitts.ie; Clonakilty-born Declan Murphy of the Just-one.org charity; Alex Musgrave of digital production company Dog Day Media; and the national winners of last year’s enterprise programme, My Little Big Adventure, from Castletownbere.

Mr Sheehan encouraged the students not to be afraid to lead. “There are opportunities everywhere and you can find them in the most unexpected of places. Don’t be left wondering what might have been, be fearless and go for it,” he said.

Mr Musgrave, whose company video for Kearys of a road trip around Ireland recently went viral and whose clients now include Ed Sheeran, Warner Music, and Ballymaloe, also gave the students a vital tip.

“If your dream job doesn’t exist, you can create it,” he said.

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