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 adventures.

Clara Redden takes us through her experience working in the Digital Marketing industry in New York.

Clara is from Dublin and graduated with a B.A. in Communications from DCU before moving to New York.

She currently works as a media intern with global online marketing company, Matomy Media Group.

Taking the plunge

I guess New York has always been on my radar as somewhere I would like to live ever since I came with my auntie after the Leaving Cert in 2010 and again for a summer holiday in 2013. It’s an absolutely incredible city and everyday there are more new things to do/see/experience than I could have ever imagined.

Before moving over to New York, I worked for a start-up in Dublin for a year. This prepared me somewhat for the working lifestyle over here and I think a year’s work experience helped me get my foot in the door with interviews for jobs.

I currently reside in Brooklyn, New York, in a neighborhood called Bushwick. We were pretty lucky to get an apartment that was previously rented by other Irish girls who happened to be leaving the same month we moved over. Looking for a place to live was virtually pain free. I know other people have difficulty but we just got really lucky!

Job Opportunities

Right now, and for the rest of the duration of my visa, I am working in the Digital Marketing industry. I am interning for a global online marketing company called Matomy Media Group.

The job hunt wasn’t too difficult. I found the job advertised on LinkedIn, applied, and was offered the position shortly afterwards. I was pretty lucky for it to have been that easy, but getting to this stage wasn’t all sunshine and puppies.

I rushed into my previous internship, which was unpaid and tedious. I found it very challenging and not in the good way. I decided to look for something new and that’s when I secured Matomy and left my previous role.

Challenging though it was, it taught me a lot about patience, and having the courage to stand up for myself even when it would have been easier to stay. I am much happier where I am now and encourage others who come over on a J-1 not jump into the first job they are offered just because of time constraints.

Think carefully about what you want to do and pursue that (with caution). I don’t think anyone looking for an internship should settle for an unpaid one. There are plenty out there that are paid you just have to be persistent in your job hunt.

Visa time constraints

The J-1 Visa situation is tricky. I kept mine off my resume and it led to a few great job offers. However, once they realize that sponsorship would be necessary after the first year, they usually cool off pretty quickly. Many companies don’t sponsor entry-level jobs.

My advice would be to keep it off your resume and if they like you enough, they’ll hire you for the duration of your stay. If you’re even luckier, they might decide you’re so great that they want to sponsor you. Keep your LinkedIn updated and always follow companies you’re interested in working for.

Becoming an adult in NY

I went home to Ireland for Christmas this year, which was great, but it made me realize all the reasons why living in America is so much better. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dublin and everything about it but the convenience of everything over here is certainly something I’m going to miss. A few 24-hour examples include Dunkin Doughnuts, The Deli and laundromat beside my apartment, and of course, the engineering marvel that is the NY City Subway to name but a few.

I could get quite emotional thinking about how all my experiences in America to date have benefited me and my development as an adult. The fact that I was able to secure two internships by myself gives me huge confidence in myself and my abilities. It has taught me to be brave and make decisions even when the outcome is scary and unknown.

Living here has been difficult at times, but it has also been extremely rewarding and so much fun. I have met so many great people here and I never take my time here for granted.

It always surprises me how I get the same feeling of excitement whenever I see the skyline coming over the subway into Manhattan. It just doesn’t get old for me. If you are thinking about doing a J-1 Graduate Visa then just do it! New York is always a good idea.

Have you taken the plunge and moved to the US on the J-1 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 J-1 Graduate visa story with [email protected] to take part in our series and advise the next batch of US recruits.