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.

TV and production are the next industry under the spotlight in our series.

We speak to Clodagh Garry from Limerick who works as an intern in TV production in New York.

Clodagh studied Irish and New Media at the University of Limerick and then obtained a masters from National University of Ireland, Galway, in Media and Journalism before moving to the US.

Finding employment

I decided to come to America to pursue a career. There was nearly no employment at all in my field at home. After I finished college, I waited a year to save up enough money to come over.

The whole [Visa] process is relatively easy. However, I have now learned that CIEE and USIT are not the only way the visa can be obtained since then and I would not recommend them.

The job hunt is quite difficult because you don’t have the same contacts or knowledge of the country [as you do at home]. However, a contact in Ireland helped me get my job.

Being on a limited visa can cause some problems. I mentioned it after I got my first job and it absolutely hindered my chances of getting another job or furthering my opportunities at my current company.

Working in the US

The company I work for is amazing. The productions are much bigger [than those in Ireland] and the people I work with are very talented and skilled.

There are differences between the US workplace and the Irish one. There are very few holidays here and work dynamics are different. Business is just conducted differently.

I seem to be treated slightly different as an Irish employee but in a good way. They seem to value my skill set and work ethic but I’m treated differently because of my visa status.

Working in the US has made me more confident and I have also learned a lot in terms of work.

What advice would you give to others thinking of coming to the US on a J-1 year-long visa?

I knew New York was expensive before I’d arrived so I had saved a lot of money.

I’d advise that you come to the US on a three-month tourist visa first if you can. You can also get here the month before your visa starts [where you can travel to the US but are not yet allowed to start work], so you can spend as much time as you need looking for a position without it eating into your visa time.

I also wish that I’d had hired a lawyer straight away [for sorting further visa applications].

Difficulties and cons to living in the Big Apple

Finding a place to live when you first get to the city is a nightmare.

There is a lot of work involved in setting yourself up in a new country. It’s hard and you often doubt yourself and question why you didn’t just stay at home. However, then I look at where I work or where I’m living and know it’s worth it.

Some of the cons to living in New York are the safety issues here, the food quality is not good, the lack of health care, the enormous cost of living, and of course, the daily commute.

There are also many things I miss: my friends and family, home comforts, driving, the outdoors, and the high quality of food among them.

There are so many pros, too, however. There is so much opportunity and so many things to see and do. It’s always busy, you’ll never be bored.

If you could go back in time, would you still make the decision to move to the US?

Yes, 100%

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 [email protected] to take part in our series and advise the next batch of US recruits.