When Andrew McMaster began studying in Queen’s University in Belfast, the 22-year-old didn’t expect to be working in a global financial corporation in New York a mere three years later.

Through the first phase of the U.S-Northern Ireland Mentorship Program, McMaster, originally from Holywood, Belfast, was offered a much coveted position with UBS, a premier financial services firm in New York City.

“In this job I have been exposed to the highest level of professional standards. The work ethic of my colleagues has really struck me. As a graduate in my first full time job since leaving university I can't think of a better organization to begin my career,” McMaster told the
“Irish Voice.”

“One of my favorite things about the job is that there is so much variety in the projects I'm involved with, so no two days are ever exactly the same,” he added.

The U.S.-Northern Ireland Mentorship Program offers graduates from the North the chance to live and work in the U.S. in global corporations. Established by Declan Kelly, the U.S. economic envoy to Northern Ireland, the program is supported by the American Ireland Fund.

“This program has given me so much more confidence in my own ability than I ever had before,” McMaster said.

“The opportunity to work with such skilled and enthusiastic colleagues has been enormously valuable, and this attitude towards work is one I will carry with me throughout my career.”

As a result of the mentorship scheme, it is hoped that graduates will return home after their year-long placement in the U.S. armed with new skills and valuable experience, eager to contribute and become business leaders in their communities.

“The skills and knowledge that myself and the rest of the program participants have developed from working in major multinational corporations has made us so much more attractive to prospective employers,” McMaster said.

“I hope that when I go back home I will be able to put what I have learned to good use regardless of the field in which I pursue a career.”

Speaking about the program, Kelly described it as one of the most important initiatives he has undertaken as part of his mission to Northern Ireland.

“The program offers participants the opportunity to work in world-class organizations, and develop the skills that will allow them to return to Northern Ireland prepared to become business leaders in their communities,” he told the “Irish Voice.”

Ashley Maybin, Philip Anderson, David Bell, Brett Zych, U.S. economic envoy to Northern Ireland Declan Kelly, Andrew McMaster, Ben Williams, Gemma Rafferty and Emily Gaston at the New York Stock Exchange, at an event hosted by the American Ireland Fund.