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.

This week, we look at careers in event management with Laura Lynch.

Laura, from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, studied Event Management in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) before traveling to New York.

She currently works as an Event Design Executive at Tantawan Bloom

Taking the plunge

Coming from Ireland to New York, the city that never sleeps, was most certainly different! I’m from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, which has its fair share of excitement (Hello Joe Dolan & Niall Horan!) but unfortunately, life wasn’t moving at the pace I felt I needed it to if I was to further my career in the event industry.

I studied Event Management in DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) and during this time, I started an internship with a Dublin-based boutique Wedding and Events company. This evolved into a career for me both during my studies and afterwards.

In Ireland, I felt the wedding/events sector is not as elaborate and flamboyant as it is in the US and for this reason, I desired to travel and experience the other side of the coin within the industry.

Following my graduation, the visa opportunity arose and I felt compelled to leave and gain greater insight into the unknown.

The Job-Hunt

Living in New York is tough: it’s noisy, it’s manic, it’s overwhelming and the air is not fresh like the green fields of home.

I came to New York and immediately realized how much of a rat race it is to secure a job within any sector. As I studied Event Management, my degree allowed me to develop a range of transferable skills (PR, Management, Marketing, etc.) that allow access to a broad selection of career pathways. Although I applied for positions across the board, my aim and hope, however, was to find a job continuing to work with Weddings and Events as I had in Ireland.

I am happy to report that the job-hunting process went very smoothly for me and, after an extremely short period, I secured a role with a prominent Wedding And Events Design company Tantawan Bloom, based in Manhattan.

Working in the US event industry

My company was very understanding of my Visa requirements and provided me with great support during my transition to the company.

In Ireland, I felt each week of work was monotonous. Let me tell you, this is definitely not the case in my current position. I have experienced a world which I would never have come close to in Ireland.

First off, the average spend on weddings is far greater than Ireland and this provides an opportunity to create and design exuberant events. The norm is never normal here. People think outside the box, each client wants their event to be more unique than the rest and this allows me to challenge myself.

My pre-existing skills and knowledge of the sector transferred perfectly as the business formatting and customer relationship management (CRM) remain the same throughout the industry worldwide.

However, it did take some time to adapt to my new company's practices and familiarize myself with the New York events industry. Each week, I work in some of the city’s (and the world’s) most luxurious venue spaces such as The Plaza, The Mandarin Oriental, Cipriani 42nd Street, Capitale, The Pierre and so forth.

We also work out of state and travel to some of the most beautiful Country Clubs and private residents imaginable. It’s then my job to ensure that all elements of design are executed seamlessly, transforming an already beautiful space into a magical wonderland for our client.

Fast-paced lifestyle

My role has provided me the opportunity to work with some very prominent figures and celebrities. (Yes, even more famous than Joe Dolan!)

Being from Ireland, people hear my accent and always want to learn more about me and how I got to where I am within the New York events industry.

As I work weekends, my schedule is always jam-packed but I have adapted to this American way of living. It was surprising to learn how little annual leave you are entitled to. People love to work and work loves people here!

Career opportunities

From my experience, I would love to express to current Irish students with my skillset to look over the horizon and see the bigger picture.

Opportunities arise for those who seek them and the US has provided me with a wealth of knowledge to further my career. If you are thinking of sailing in this direction, I would recommend doing your research into career opportunities before arriving.

Coping in a new city

I was fortunate to secure a role early on but this will not be the case for everyone. The move wasn’t easy and the fast-paced lifestyle is not everyone’s cup of tea. You need to be prepared both mentally and physically to adapt.

I miss home every day -- my four-year-old baby brother’s hugs, my granny’s apple crumble, playing camogie, laughing with my ladies -- but these sacrifices are small in the grand scheme of things.

There are pros and cons to everything in life and I feel that it’s key to imagine the end goal and remain positive during the tough times you may face during the transition.

The US has made me realize exactly what I can achieve in life and what it takes to reach the next level. If I could go back in time, the only thing I would change is making the move sooner and bringing more Barry’s tea in my suitcase!

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.