The USIT Graduate Visa to the US isn’t just a piece of paper, it’s a like changing undertaking. To apply and be successful you need to be ambitious, dedicated and brave enough to dream big. Luckily, Irish graduates possess these traits in abundance leading to hundreds of hugely successful participants who’ve stood up to stand out from the crowd.
Once such graduate is Eleanor Costello, a creative marketing sort with a keen eye for a masterpiece thanks to her degree in History, Arts, Architecture and Sociology from Trinity College. This is her US adventure to Boston and how it’s launched her career into one of the UK’s finest art galleries since…
A Tearful Goodbye and Flight Anxiety
A year sounds like a long time. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. What I want to know is why my year in Boston felt so much shorter than that?
Those fearful few moments before getting on that flight from Dublin, saying goodbye to my home and Roxy (golden retriever/best friend) certainly feels like decades ago. However, I can still remember perfectly the feeling of exhilaration combined with a twisted stomach, that may have been caused by take-off, or the nerves. I can’t confirm if it was turbulence or anxiety that day but if it was the latter, it was unwarranted.
Finding a Place and an Internship in Boston
Within two months, I had a place to live with lovely housemates, had already doubled my coffee intake, and succeeded in getting a creative marketing internship in a very hip, downtown, co-working space.
Although this sounds like good news, it was not smooth sailing. I got very lost getting to a job interview and showed up almost an hour late, I lived for a very short period on a boat, my signed and stamped, VERY official visa was almost ripped to shreds going through a photocopier, and I viewed an apartment with a strange man who was really enthusiastic about showing me his dark, creepy basement.
The Hardest Part and Making It Easier
The move was the hardest part. If you’re reading this article in advance of your own Grad Visa, listen up. Hindsight is wonderful and I’m about to impart some wisdom. Don’t sweat the small stuff, remember it WILL ALL BE OK. Reach out to Irish communities, online, at Irish bars, in Irish shops, friends of friends, anyone and everyone.
Going away confirmed my assumptions that we really are the most welcoming folk. Irish people seem to look after each other, and finding people to help get you settled and set up is a fantastic resource. Say hello to people. Americans are not afraid of strangers or making small talk as we seem to be on this side of the Atlantic. It’s not as hard to make friends as you think it will be, and they’ll like your accent.
Learn, learn, learn
I think I learned more in this one year than I did at four years in university. Experiencing new cultures and meeting new people through an opportunity like this offers something more than a college library. I had not even realised that there was so much I had to learn, as an adult. And it still continues to this day, as I claimed tax back from the US overseas for the first time.
I’ve become more aware of the world since moving away. Ireland is small, and not that diverse or liberal, and speaking to people in America and while travelling has opened up my mind to the diversity of valid opinions out there. I learned so much about US politics, living in America during the run-up to the election was an exciting time and gave me incredible insight into the campaign trail that I had never seen.
I attended a Bernie Sanders rally in Boston, was taught about what the primaries actually mean, and while travelling, realised the combined impact of local communities and media sources on voters and had a fascinating debate with a Trump supporter.
Go Explore the States!
I also grew through having a lot of fun! I tried my first Beignet in New Orleans, finally came around to the idea of Chicken and Waffles as a combination and discovered that you can put pretty much anything on a doughnut. I attended a baseball game, met real life sorority and fraternity members and lost some cash in Vegas. I had my mind blown by the Grand Canyon, experienced real life paparazzi as the Bachelorette walked by in LA, and confirmed that I’m more of a thin New York pizza slice girl, than a deep dish Chicago style fan.
They say time flies when you’re having fun, but 365 days should not fly that fast.
Another year will have passed by at the end of Summer and I’m not sure that I’m ready to take in that information yet. Time is the one constant that reminds me to remember, not only to look back fondly on the good times, but to take chances and opportunities that are offered to you now and live for the day that’s in.
Life After Boston
Since Boston, I’ve secured a permanent full-time role in Cambridge, UK, doing Communications for a modern and contemporary art gallery. My professional experiences in Boston, in creative marketing, arts and museum industries no doubt benefited my CV greatly as I returned to Europe. I am also adamant that my personal growth, in living in a new place, travelling by myself and becoming more independent made me more confident in myself and aware of my strengths and abilities.
Although you can get incredible work experience and entry level positions in Ireland, it is the memories, friendships and personal growth of doing a visa with USIT that last. I’m looking forward to the next year, and the one after that, and all the days following now, knowing that experiences are what you make of them and that the world is ours for the taking. Let the time fly.
Huge thanks to Eleanor for sharing her Grad Visa Story with us! Are you next? There are now less than 400 spots available for 2017 and they’re going fast! Email Melanie.Young@usit.ie to start your adventure or head over to usavisa.ie to find out more.