Louise Cooney works with Tourism Ireland.Louise Cooney

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.

First up, we look at the world of marketing and tourism in New York with Louise Cooney, a Public Relations and Business Tourism Assistant with Tourism Ireland.

Louise, from Limerick, is a recent graduate of a Masters in Marketing from DIT following her undergraduate course in Communication Studies from DCU.

Taking the plunge

I have family over here and had visited many times in the past. I spent three full summers here before moving this year. I had always loved America – especially New York.

So then I decided I would come here after college … I handed in my masters thesis two days before flying over.

I had been looking [for a job] in Dublin, too. Then, I had a job interview for a New-York based job and I really set my heart on coming here then. I was lucky enough to secure a job before finishing my degree. However, I definitely did find it difficult. I find interviews really nerve-wracking so I prepared myself and eventually got a job that I couldn’t be more suited to and happy in.

It [the J-1 visa] was handled through the company I was hired for so on this occasion it was pretty simple. I know from applying for summer J-1 visas in the past that it is a lengthy process.

As an Irish company, they understood that you have to be patient and you really can’t make the visa process go any faster than it already is going.

Job opportunities

I think there are a lot of marketing jobs out there, yes. However, for graduates we are quite limited as I don’t think there are enough paying jobs for our experience level. Many people begin working in internships which are, for the majority, unpaid.

There are so many exciting companies and brands to work with in New York. If you have a job, it’s still cool to meet people and learn about what they do at all the different networking nights and events there are on in the city every night of the week. Not to mention Americans love us Irish, so opportunities always seem to present themselves.

I would say to know what you want but also be open-minded. It’s great to secure a job in what you are interested in before you come out, but if you can’t, there are many opportunities out here for people who want them. I know so many people who have come out here without a job and found amazing jobs with companies that are going to sponsor them to stay.

Working in a US office

It’s different in that the work day here is a lot longer than what it is at home. You start at 9 and sometimes could be in until 9 at night. In America, there are also a lot less holiday days given (on average 11), but you do get the odd snow day and a lot of companies in NY get summer Fridays (meaning the office closes at 2pm). As we are an Irish company, we get the usual 21 days holidays so we are really spoiled.

Life experience

I’ve gained so much experience in every aspect of my life I don’t even know where to start. I’ve experienced a new level of independence, living over here on my own without any of my family, friends or my boyfriend. It’s my first full-time job so everything I’ve learned career-wise has been huge. I’ve learned so much about time management, budgeting, meeting new people while also keeping in contact with people at home.

One thing I love about America is the huge amount of choice you have for everything – particularly food! There is always so much to do as well – I love that. I definitely miss the comforts of home though – familiar faces, food and TV.

I’m definitely a more positive, open-minded person since I’ve been here. I was always independent and out-going, but I would say I am even more so now. Also, New York has given me more confidence – without that you’d be lost pretty quickly here.

It was definitely hard to leave my boyfriend, my family and my friends at home. I had to learn to build a life in New York without them here while also keeping up to date with what was going on in their lives.

What do you wish you knew before coming to the US?

I wish I had known that the dollar was going to strengthen so much against the euro. I get paid in euros so I definitely would have bought some more money while it was good. New York is an expensive city.

To read more about Louise's adventure in New York, you can follow her blog at http://www.louisecooney.com/

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