Hear the first-hand experience of young Irish people living and working in the US in IrishCentral’s latest series on the J-1 graduate visa. We speak to recent Irish graduates working across a range of industries on their careers, motivations, and the highs and lows of their stateside adventure.

Erika Fox takes us through the digital marketing and fashion industry in this week’s edition of the J-1 Graduate Visa series.

Erika is from Kerry and studied Commerce (Marketing) in National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), before moving to New York.

She now works as social media manager at Camuto Group.

Moving to New York

During my time in college, I spent two summers in New York interning at different fashion companies and I always knew that I wanted to come back to the city for a longer period of time.

I graduated from NUIG in October 2013 and moved to New York in September 2014. I wanted to work at home for a year beforehand to gain extra experience and to build up my savings.

I’m very lucky in that my family have always supported me. Fashion isn’t the most straightforward/traditional industry to be involved in so you need to be surrounded by people who understand this.

Both my parents have always been very entrepreneurial (and actually met in New York) so they couldn’t have been more supportive and encouraging about my move here.

The limited time-scale of the J-1

I mentioned this [that the visa is only for a year] at the interview stage.

It definitely makes it a little trickier as it’s often easier for US companies to hire fellow Americans.

I always made it very clear from the get-go that I was here on a J-1 visa but also that I would be looking for sponsorship down the line. Companies appreciate your honesty.

Adjusting to New York life

The thing about just living in New York is that you are constantly exposed to new ideas and inspirational people. This alone is invaluable experience.

It is definitely very different working in New York. I never realized (or appreciated) how many bank holidays we have in Ireland until I started working here in the US.

The work ethic is very different here but it’s undoubtedly great to experience it.

Career opportunities

For fashion especially, New York really is one of the best places you can be. If you’re willing to work hard, there are opportunities on every corner.

If anything, being Irish works to my advantage. It’s something that enables me to stand out.

Advice for future travelers

I wish I’d known that my savings would probably last the grand total of two months!

The cost of living here can be very high, so my advice to anyone who is thinking of making the move is to really make sure that you have saved more than you think you will need.

When you move here first, there are a lot of set-up costs (security deposits, broker fees, etc.) so just don’t forget to factor those in.

I also wish I knew more about the food. Nine months into my graduate visa, I’m finally realizing how unhealthy so much of the food here is. In Ireland, we are used to fresh, good-quality food (which we take for granted) but in comparison, food here in the US is, unfortunately, very processed.

It definitely takes it’s toll after a while so just make sure to be aware of what you are eating.

Life-changing experience

I guess if anything it has made me more motivated. It’s a fantastic city in that you can honestly achieve anything you want here if you put your mind to it. The networking and work opportunities are endless.

One of my best years to date!

For more insights into the ins & outs of moving to New York, you can check out Erika's blog post.

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Have you taken the plunge and moved to the US on the J1 Graduate visa? Tackled the visa process, the job and apartment hunt and lived to tell the tale? IrishCentral wants to hear from you! Share your J1 Graduate visa story with editors@irishcentral.com to take part in our series and advise the next batch of US recruits.