Bottom right is Mícheál Brennan, Head of SEO at Legacy Communications.

Advice and free course for students who miss out on CAO

Even if you didn’t get the course you wanted, there’s still lots of other options out there.

One successful Corkman is urging students not to be disappointed with their grades if they have missed out.

Mícheál Brennan, Head of SEO at Legacy Communications, didn’t get the points for the course he wanted and later dropped out of college.

He has created a totally free online course for students who didn’t get the results they wanted and want to learn a skill that doesn’t need a degree, but has lots of job opportunities.

Tech and the SEO (search engine optimisation) industry is one of the fastest growing industries and according to Micheal, it’s just one of many jobs students can make a start on without any degree or experience.

Any students can look at Mícheál’s free SEO course at

He said: “I now work with multi-million dollar companies, with clients across the world and I’m head of a department at an award-winning marketing agency, but it could have been very different if I had focused on my average Leaving Cert and not getting the points I needed.

“I hated school. It just wasn’t for me. I hated homework so just didn’t bother. I always liked English and writing, so ironically I was hoping to go on to become an English teacher, but I missed the points by a mile.”

“I ended up going to college at Cork IT (now MTU) to study business and marketing, but dropped out after two years without a degree because I just wanted to go work and make money.”

“While I was lazy in college, the one class I would always get out of bed for was marketing with Maurice Murphy and I felt like a career in marketing was what I wanted to pursue.”

After looking for marketing roles, he found he didn’t have experience to land a role.

“I got a website built and started figuring out how to rank it. I also started to figure out Google ads and luckily, digital marketing just came naturally.”

After a few years working in Toronto, he moved home to Ireland and decided it was time to go all-in on setting up the business, SMBclix.

“I worked crazy long hours over the next 6 years and I managed to grow the business to multiple 6-figure revenues. In April 2021, Legacy bought SMBclix and I'm now Head of Search at Legacy.

“The road wasn't always straight, it had many twists and turns, I've had a ton of luck along the way, but I got there in the end - and you will too, so try not to stress over results, there is always another path.”

“SEO can be a very rewarding field and one you can have fun with. As a joke I even ranked myself on page one of the search results for the ‘most handsome man in Ireland’. If you Google it, you’ll see my picture right there next to Jamie Dornan and Colin Farrell!”

Here are Mícheál’s top tips for starting in SEO (or any field) without a degree:

Use the internet:

I taught myself most of what I know about SEO by looking at online courses. They’re an excellent resource. Not only are they a great starting point, but they allow you to look at multiple free courses and careers before making a commitment to any one field.

There is always another route if it’s what you really want:

If you really want something, there is always another way to go about it. Between PLC courses, the ability to return as a mature student, internships, and all the other routes, you won’t be stuck for options.

Sometimes things happen for a reason:

I initially wanted to become an English teacher but didn’t get the points. I would have been a terrible teacher, but I love working in SEO. Sometimes not getting the course you want can actually be a blessing in disguise.

Take a breather:

Most Leaving Cert students are only in their mid to late teens. It might feel like the end of the world now but you have all the time in the world to figure out what you want to do and how to get there. Most of us are still learning every day even as adults. Don’t panic, there is always another way to where you want to be and there is no timeline to getting there.