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.
Eiméar Glass, 23, is in the US on the the J-1 Graduate Visa through the US-NI Mentorship Program. She is currently a Regional Marketing Intern with Moët Hennessy USA in New York.
Eiméar, from Maghera, Co. Derry, attended the University of Ulster achieving a Bachelor of Science (Honors) Public Relations and an Advanced Diploma in Management Practice.
Arriving on the US-NI Mentorship Program gave Eiméar a different experience on the J-1 Visa to other participants in our series. Here she gives her top tips on the program and shares her experience so far.
Taking the plunge
I had been thinking about moving to the US for a long time before I finally made the move. I was working in an advertising agency in Belfast, but decided I wanted to do something to really elevate my career and take it to the next level, and I knew that I wanted to do this by working in a city like New York.
I traveled on my own on New Year's Day of this year, three suitcases in tow, really taking “New Year, New Start'” to a whole new level.
On one hand, I went into the whole journey with my eyes fully open and, in most ways, I was very realistic with myself and knew what I was getting into. I had traveled from Philadelphia to Boston – via NYC – for six weeks in 2012, so I had experienced the fast-paced nature of this city and corporate America.
On the other hand, I don't think you can underestimate how much of a life change it actually is to uproot your life and move across the Atlantic Ocean to a new city.
The US-NI Mentorship Program
The J-1 process was handled between “The US-NI Mentorship Program” and my company, and was, on the whole, quite seamless. No matter how seamless it seems, however, it is still an anxious time, as you never feel fully confident until you are physically holding your visa in your hand.
It does take time for your visa to be processed so do be patient. More importantly, before you submit your application double and triple check all information is correct so there are no delays in processing.
Job-hunting on the mentorship program
In terms of job-hunting, I was very fortunate and had a job secured before I moved to NYC. I am part of a program called, "The US-NI Mentorship Program," which places recent graduates and young professionals who are starting out in their career in some of the most exciting companies in corporate America.
That being said, I went through several tough rounds of interviews before securing the job. Job interviews can be nerve-racking at the best of times, but for me the pressure was amplified tenfold as it was a role I was really excited about. I was 100% sure in my decision to move so in that instance I let my passion for the role, company, and desire to move to the U.S. come through.
On this program there are several marketing jobs but also some finance, IT, consulting and HR roles, leaving the talent pool very open and diverse.
Advice for for future J-1 Visa applicants
Throw caution to the wind and go! If you don’t do it now I can almost guarantee you will look back in 10 years and regret it.
Three key pieces of advice I would give to someone who is seriously considering a move stateside are:
1. Save, save, save! Chances are you may not have a job when you move initially, and when you do start it could be another two weeks until you are first paid (it was six for me as I waited for my social security number). It is vitally important to be able to support yourself through those initial weeks and possibly months. Try to make a detailed expenses plan projecting what you will need to set yourself up in your new life i.e. travel cost, deposit for apartment, rent, food, entertainment, miscellaneous.
2. Research is key. Have an idea of where in the U.S. you want to move to; if that area is plentiful with jobs in your chosen field; accommodation; transportation etc. Read articles on making the move, speak to anyone you know who is currently in the U.S. or anyone you know who has been through the entire process before.
3. Be realistic. It's not going to be easy streets when you initially move (and if it is, I definitely want to know your secret!) but all the good will far outweigh any negatives. There is so much to do, learn and be a part of, so throw yourself in to the experience and make the most of your time.
The experience I have gained in the three and a half months I have been here has been insurmountable when compared to that which I would have gained in Ireland. Mainly this holds true for the size and scale of which things are done.
For me personally, the exposure to the brands I work on was something which I could never have gained at home, as well as the chance to work under the leadership of some of the greatest business minds and as part of some really exciting projects.
In the US, the teams you work as a part of are so culturally and intellectually rich and diverse that you are always learning. In my office on any given day you will hear English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Greek being spoken.
The work ethic of corporate America is something I have always admired. People work incredibly hard and will work late into the evening and night to do the best job possible. I’m not sure that there is any such thing as a 9-5 job in New York. I am in the office for just after 8.30am each morning but could be working until 9 or 10pm, either on site in the office or at an event for one of our brands.
Difficulties of moving to the US
I think the difficulties you face when you move are that of moving to any new city. You have to learn your way around town, the transportation systems, the unwritten rules (never, ever make eye-contact on the subway), finding an apartment and, most importantly, finding and making a new group of friends.
It can be a very lonely time to move across the ocean to a new life, leaving your family and friends behind, so get involved in as many things as possible; be it sports teams, business networks and Irish networks. Put yourself out there as much as you can and start to build your new network of friends.
I think the most difficult thing I experienced was securing an apartment. Many places require you to make 40x the rent and if you fall below this they will require a credit check and a US guarantor; two things which are not possible for the vast majority of Irish workers. I moved in with a someone from Ireland and we had to really use our negotiating skills to secure our apartment by paying an extra month’s rent on top of our security deposit.
Comparing Ireland and the US
One thing I don’t miss is that in Ireland we are used to rain; and a lot of it! It still rains a lot here but it makes for a refreshing change to actually witness four distinct seasons.
On the other side of the coin, one thing I do miss is family and friends but FaceTime, Whatsapp and Skype make keeping in contact a lot easier than it was 20, or even 10, years ago.
I am three and a half months into my US adventure and I have never once regretted my choice to move for a second. In fact, I wish I could slow time down and stop the months passing by so fast.
You can find out more on the US-NI Mentorship Program here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to take part in our series and advise the next batch of US recruits.