Irish college students spending summers stateside on J1 student work visas are reporting another difficult summer on the United States job market.
Over 20,000 J1-student travel visas were issued by the United States Consulate in Dublin last year. This year’s numbers are thought to be almost as large.
The usual destinations feature prominently as ever in the list of key J1 destinations: New York, Boston, San Diego and Chicago loom large for Irish student job-seekers. Other lesser-known destinations like Ocean City and Montauk, Long Island are also maintaining their popularity.
Although this year’s J1ers seem to be enjoying relatively more success than last year’s crop, the going has still been described as tough by those currently out on a J1.
Conor Hinds, of Cork, Ireland, is currently in San Francisco looking for work, but has been disappointed with employers’ responses so far.
“There’s been nothing so far” said the disappointed traveler. “I’d clean toilets if I had to but I haven’t even been able to find that”.
Hinds added that he had not been able to capitalize on what he described as his “extensive” domestic experience. “I’ll clean the dishes and vacuum the floors if I have to but I haven’t even been able to find that sort of work!” said Hinds.
Hinds said that the large number of Irish in San Francisco “wasn’t helping” the situation, adding that he thought it was “crowding out the job market”.
David O’Donovan, also of Cork, has had somewhat better luck. The 19-year-old currently finds himself selling clothes in an Ocean City beachside shop: “It’s good”, said O’Donovan, who added that in contrast to Hinds most of his friends had been able to find jobs also.
Many Irish, though, continue to find it near impossible to get an offer of work. Alex McCarthy has been in New York for two weeks but is nearing desperation point as he struggles to find job offers.
A makeshift Irish jobs center has been set up in a New York Irish bar, where job advice is served with a pint, but despite this new amenity many Irish still find themselves unable to find anything.
“It’s not quite what I had expected”, said a Galway student who wished to remain nameless, “I’d come to New York assuming that I’d just pop into the nearest Irish pub and get working that afternoon, but stuff hasn’t quite panned out like that all!”.
National student travel agency, USIT, and Cork-based agency, SayIt both reported another year of strong interest in the J1 travel program, with both agencies saying that this numbers remained strong despite the fact that many of last year’s crop had to return home jobless after running out of money.
Many, as usual, chose to take out exam failure insurance, said the agencies. Unsure, apparently of their ability to get through the summer without having to make an unwelcome trip back to the Emerald Isle when college repeat exams take place in August.
For some, though, there was light at the end of the tunnel. An ecstatic University of Limerick student described how she and three girl-friends literally walked into jobs at one of the New York City’s many Irish pubs.
“There’s the lucky ones as well as then unlucky ones; you just have to take your chances”, the student commented.