Emigration statistics for 2013 showed that 243 people left Ireland every day. That is one person leaving Ireland every six minutes.
The figures compiled by the Central Statistics Office covered the 12-month period up until April 2013 and show that a total of 89,000 people left the country.
While much of this emigration was forced, with heartbreaking scenes playing out in airports around Ireland, there is a new wave of emigration amongst the ‘twenty something’ college graduates.
These graduates are the ones who grew up in a flourishing Celtic Tiger Ireland. A generation that thrived on the power of having no limitations. We were labeled the ‘Celtic Tiger cubs’ and this was an apt description; we were cubs of Ireland's sucuess and then the casulties in it's spectalular fall from grace.
As emigration levels reach record highs in Ireland, it's easy to forget that not all emigration if of the heart-wrenching variety we have become accustomed to hearing about.
The new wave of emigration is something I have come to call the Celtic Cubs' 'choice' to leave. Choice is a very important word to remember in this scenario. For many young adults in Ireland, the thoughts of escaping Ireland for a few years and going traveling is one of the most appealing aspects to final year in college.
It’s not about having to weigh morally on the responsibility of a mortgage, family commitments or huge personal debt from college fee’s. Unlike American counterparts at the same age, Irish students for most part escape huge debts in acquiring a top class education.
In Ireland, we are lucky to have such a high class third level education, one that turns out the finest graduates year after year. Granted that there are not enough jobs available at present to meet graduate needs at home, but many recent college graduates are taking the plunge to pack up their Irish lives for a year or two and emigrate by choice, not by force.
It’s not like it was thirty or forty years ago, when people had no choices. Past emigrants were not as lucky as us 'Celtic Tiger Cubs.' They settled on a life in America by force. For most recent graduates moving to the U.S, it’s about being cutting edge in their chosen sector and choosing to seek out sucess in corporate America. And we have to thank those Irish emigrants who left thirty odd years ago as they were the foundations to the Irish American lives we now lead.
For the typical Irish graduate moving to the U.S it's about getting experience from the good old American work system and experiencing corporate America. While many may argue that so many young people are being forced to emigrate to lands far away, we have to realize that there is also a large percentage of the young, educated Irish who have no problem in going exploring, seeing different parts of the world between the ages of 24 and 26. They are taking up leading roles in the financial, legal and publishing industries because they have the education, skills and work ethic expected of them in America.
Personally, as a strong advocate of life experience, I think every university student in Ireland should be open to the idea of going to work abroad for a few years. Depending on your sector, it can greatly enhance career prospects for the future.
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing bad about wanting to stay and work in Ireland if the job is there to suit your needs, but do you really want to look back in thirty years and regret never leaving the bubble and setting yourself a challange to work abroad?
Prior to coming to New York I worked as an English teacher in Barcelona and a waiter in San Francisco. I experienced the American educational system through my studies in Boston as a communications major. It all led to one thing after college – I wanted to emigrate and pursue my journalism career in New York.
And I am not alone. Two young Irish men talked to me about their decisions to leave Ireland and experience corporate America. Like me, they feel it was their choice to leave and experience the New York side of life.
Nick Sainsbury is a 21-year-old Economics and Finance graduate from University College Dublin. He decided to emigrate for the experience of living in a vibrant city. He took the opportunity offered by the J1 graduate visa “to get some great experience under his belt having just graduated from UCD.”
A native of Dublin, he is now working in New York for The Vision Lab, a company founded in 2012 by fellow Irishman Trevor Madigan.
“My role is leading product management, but I am also involved in all aspects of the business.” Nick says he has been fortunate enough to meet and work with some interesting and successful individuals, both Irish and American.
Having made the big move over to NY in summer 2013 Sainsbury, like every other recent emigrant, found differences in the day to day life.
“The largest difference I found was the financial position we come out of University in Ireland. Arriving in New York I began to appreciate how privileged we are in Ireland to get a world class education for a fraction of the cost in America.”
The 21-year-old has experienced no negativity or resentment towards his education from his American counterparts. He also feels that American students take their third level education much more seriously than Irish students.
Overcoming the first hurdles of such a big move are the hardest aspect of the decision to leave one's own country.
Nick added “When I moved over to New York I had no job lined up and minimal experience, being a recent graduate.
“Given how expensive New York is, I knew I had to take the job hunt seriously from day one.”
The best way to tap into the New York industry for the Dublin man was to tap into the extremely active Irish network here in the city.
“I couldn’t believe the response I got to cold emails and how generous those I met were with their time and contacts. It was definitely the difference between success and failure and I look forward to being able to give back to other young graduates taking the leap of faith.”
One thing he does miss about Ireland is his mother’s home cooking. “I can safely say I haven’t been able to replicate it myself and probably never will.”
The young professional network in New York is a force to be reckoned with; the new wave emigrants are not afraid to get ahead and seek out the roles to fit their lifestyles.
Many recent arrivals to New York are the Celtic Tiger cubs that grew up in an Ireland that was flourishing and there was no need to ever think beyond tomorrow. I, myself, was a member of the 'Celtic Tiger Cub' club.
When the economy came crashing down many graduates saw it as time to seek that thrill they had grown up with. For many New York City represents this adreneline rush. While not an easy city to establish oneself as a player, it's certainly worth a shot.
On any given weekend, there is a college reunion as the Irish college community come together in their new surroundings of the Big Apple. "It’s just a bigger playground," was one recent description I overheard of a recent graduate's description of their new life.
Patrick O’Kennedy is a 20-something legal professional who had always dreamed of living in America and decided to move to the city of dreams to discover what he wanted from his life.
“It was by no means an easy decision to leave, but one I felt was the right decision. I had just graduated with a law degree from the University of Limerick, and honestly hadn’t a clue what my next step would be.
“I knew I had a one year window to make the move stateside. My reasoning was that if I got some work experience here in America, it would stand to me in the long run.”
Patrick landed himself in the legal sector working at an immigration law firm owned by Charles Jason Lore. The firm specializes in immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The Donegal native points out that it’s not all plain sailing here in America.
“It was definitely not easy to break into the law field, but it is by no means impossible.
“It all comes down to chance and networking. ‘Networking’ is widespread over here, and there are many Irish networking events that are great for meeting fellow potatoes,” says the 24-year-old.
He says graduates need to be able to put themselves out there as much as possible. His initial preconceived notion of working for an American law firm was something similiar to what he had seen watching the TV show ‘Suits.’
“I imagined working late nights but thankfully this isn’t the case. Of course there is the odd late night, but that is to be expected in any firm.”
Patrick has no regrets about making the move and finds his new life exciting. He doesn’t buy into the perception that some of the American public have of young Irish graduates. There would be a minority of public opinion that think we are moving over here and stealing jobs from American students.
“I don’t see it as a competition between US citizens and the Irish grads. We are contributing to the economy and bringing our own approach to the workplace.”
“It’s all about give and take, and in my opinion cultural diversity is good for every society.”
The new trend of post Celtic Tiger cubs setting up base in America seems set to continue. More and more young graduates are seeing the choice to leave Ireland for a few years as a much more positive thing than the thirty-something age group who are being forced to leave because of negativity equity and rising costs of childcare.
It's highly likely that the thirty-something emigrants will remain emigrants, but the twenty-somethings will return to Ireland in force as the new leaders of Ireland. America is a corporate playing field for young Irish graduates who know a thing about getting ahead in life. Wasn't that the lesson Celtic Tiger Ireland taught the cubs?
For now this Celtic Tiger cub is happy in his new surroundings and stomping ground as are many of my counterparts.
Here is the story of Sean who loves Ireland but chooses to leave in search of a better life. Choice Emigration