Networking and preparation - taking on the digital marketing world in New York City as a young professional is about as daunting as it gets, but for Tadhg Reynolds, a 24-year-old Irish graduate, it is a challenge worth facing. 

Reynolds is in New York on the J1 Graduate Visa - an increasingly popular visa that allows recent college graduates to intern in their field in America for a year - and believes that it is one of the best ways to crack the marketing scene. 

The Galway native moved to New York in April 2019 without a job and admitted that the first few months were tough. 

"It took me two months to begin my first day of work, and New York is a very expensive place to live with no income for two months. There were definitely times when I thought I was going to have to go home.

"For every one good job that is open, there are hundreds of people exactly like you applying. To make things harder, the majority of your competition are from the US, so they do not have the added complexity that requiring a visa brings."

Reynolds eventually found an internship with Selfmade - a digital marketing agency - thanks to ceaseless networking and interviewing. He said that the Irish community was especially helpful in assisting him with his job hunt. 

"I got my job by reaching out to Irish people on LinkedIn who were also living in New York and working in marketing. There were about 600 people and I reached out to every single one of them.

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9 months in New York and I still get lost every single weekend 🗺

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"One guy happened to be working at SelfMade and knew that they were hiring for a growth strategist. I applied for the job online and he referred me internally, and I got an interview within a few days."

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But Reynolds did not come to New York just to intern in a digital marketing startup; establishing his own digital marketing company was always the aim and, to his surprise, this has already come to fruition. 

"It was always my goal to start a digital marketing agency in New York. That is why I chose this city. It’s the best city in the world for digital marketing.

"Due to both my visa and the little experience I had I knew working for a startup and learning as much as possible was the correct first step, which I have done for the previous 9 months.

"Over the last year I have worked with well over 100 businesses across all industries, and getting this experience in the middle of Manhattan has really boosted my career to the next level."

Networking has been crucial to this goal and it involves a significant degree of self-confidence, according to Reynolds, and is an excellent means to enhance social skills by forcing one out of their comfort zone. 

"Moving here I have always had the plan to begin my own company and I knew networking was and is a massive element to making this goal a reality. Putting yourself out there to meet new people when you are generally not a hugely outgoing person is a challenge I still face."

Tadhg Reynolds Instagram

Tadhg Reynolds Instagram

For any prospective digital marketers looking to follow in Reynolds' footsteps and try their hand at marketing in the big apple, he advises starting the process as early as possible. 

He believes that most of the work surrounding job interviews can be done from Ireland over the phone or online. 

"Do the work before you get to America so that it does not take you months to get a job and accommodation sorted once you get here. Most people, including myself, do not begin searching for a job until they arrive in New York, thinking they will get something within a few weeks which is rarely the case."

Reynolds also warned that the graduate visa is a major deterrent for US companies, despite what sponsor organizations like USIT will say to the contrary. 

"There is always that level of uncertainty when a visa is involved. Especially when you are a recent graduate, often companies just decide that your low level of experience is not worth taking the risk and added expenses.

"This is why I think trying to work for a startup is a good approach to take. Startups are known for investing and caring about their employees, and they boast about not considering visas an issue."

He also said that, while the Graduate Visa was an excellent starting point, it wasn't long enough to establish a successful marketing career. As a result, he advised anyone thinking about swapping Ireland for the Big Apple to think about securing alternative visas when their year is up. 

For Reynolds and so many other Irish graduates, the Visa offers a once in a lifetime opportunity. And it is one he intends to seize with both hands. 

Read more: J-1 series: How to stay in the US after the J-1 Visa

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