Grad Visa Stories: How Stephen Propelled his Career in the USA
New York, New York. Read how Stephen Took a Bite out of The Big Apple on his 1 Year Grad Visa.
Choosing the Grad Visa
I went on two summer J1s during college, which is a very… specific USA experience. Your top two priorities are travel and having a good time, with the casual services jobs you take to fund the adventure simply a means to an end. So while I embraced those experiences (maybe a little too much), I quietly wondered what it might be like to take on an American city as a young professional and put my university studies to good use.
The Graduate Visa that USIT arrange is an opportunity to do just that. It is your chance to exercise your new qualification among one of the world’s most dynamic work forces. It’s an exercise in personal development like no other. It’s a quick win for your CV. And whatever your sector, you can find its cutting edge in the USA. For me there was no better way to jump on the career ladder with and make my mark. You know how the song goes, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere” those were my thoughts exactly.
The Big Apple
I went to New York, figuring I knew the city a little from previous trips. It is, of course, a hyper-competitive place to try and land an internship, but the will to get out and network and assert your value to employers in terms as buoyant as your American counterparts goes a long way. That in itself is a valuable lesson and life skill to have. You shed that self-deprecating Irish thing and stake a claim.
Then there’s getting yourself set up in your new city. All the admin…navigating credit checks and the local property market and getting a social security number and a bank account and so on. It’s all a bit of a pain, but the good kind that forces you to get organised and be a little resourceful.
I wound up landing an internship at a venture capital group. Having studied marketing at DIT, I really put that skill set to the test with projects like creating a brand book, curating a weekly newsletter, organising events (pitch meetings and some very swanky social events), managing the website, creating decks and one-pagers, and compiling an annual report. My employers were determined I wouldn’t just be the ‘pick-up-coffee-and-make-copies’ kind of intern, and would in effect earn an MBA of sorts on the job. It was intensive and challenging but also fun and utterly worthwhile.
Grad Visa = Experience for Life and Career
Three years on and the managing partners I worked with remain important mentors for me and keep an eye on my career progress from afar (I currently live in London). Their guidance and encouragement have been invaluable. I can still call on them from time to time, to ask for advice and insight on how I can continue to grow and develop along my career path.
The other huge benefit of the Grad Visa from USIT Ireland is you have time to save and travel during weekends or on time off work. I went on hiking trips upstate and to the neighbouring states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, as well as Washington DC. and highly recommend that you take advantage of any free time you have to get out of New York city and experience as much of the USA as your possibly can.
Experiencing American Culture on my Grad Visa
Then there’s just day to day American life, which differs from the way of things at home in all kinds of ways. There’s the fondness for bagels and tailgating parties (try get yourself invited to one #SoMuchFun), along with the social currency an Irish brogue generates (all great), and then there are things like widespread indifference to tea, crass bumper stickers and spelling the word colour ‘c-o-l-o-r’ (downright shameful).
My Grad Visa year was a lot more challenging than my J1 experience. But that’s precisely the point. You rise to it by getting out of your comfort zone and upping your game. I am stronger professionally and personally having done the program, and I recommend it to anyone wishing to make a statement with their first foray into the workplace.
Are you ready to conquer the concrete jungle like Stephen and get an edge in your career? If so, click here.