Loving Summer on Myrtle Beach – J1 Experience Recommendation
Vice President Union of Students in Ireland on her J1
We recently sat down with Michelle Byrne of the Union of Students in Ireland to chat about her J1 experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Read on to gain some
How did you hear about the J1?
I had heard about the J1 from previous relatives who had gone on a J1, from the Students’ Union and the USIT office on campus.
What did you do to prepare for the trip?
I started researching the best areas to get jobs. I also got guidance from my J1 officer support. After deciding on Myrtle Beach, I began gathering local information about restaurants and other potential jobs I could apply for (this was before the new rules came in around having a job before you go over). I created an online network of other people I knew going from my college which grew into a support mechanism for all of us – helping each other on the best time to go, the best way to travel or what motel to stay in, etc.
What made you choose Myrtle Beach?
I picked it solely on the likelihood of whether I could get a job there. Myrtle Beach has a huge amount of American tourists and has a very busy season during the summer when people go on J1s. It was by the beach, a relatively cheap area to stay and a popular location for Irish J1 students to travel to so it seemed very suitable. It also had lots of accommodation which was a big plus.
- The best thing about the J1?
The best thing about the J1 was the American friends I made there. I met people from very different backgrounds living in the same area and met American tourists from every state in America while working. I really got a wide-ranging insight into a lot of different cultures in America. I wouldn’t have been able to do this as much as I did without making America friends while I was there. I was hanging out with lifeguards. We went to college student parties and doing trips in and out of the state with the friends I made. I still talk to some of the friends I made years after!
What would you do differently if you could do your J1 again?
I honestly wouldn’t do anything differently! I went over as early as I could after handing in my CAs in college (I didn’t have end of year exams that year) and left as late as I could to go back to college. I worked loads (and saved somehow) but I also went out at night, spent days on the beach and travelled to New York, Washington DC, North Carolina and other towns around South Carolina.
How had life changed after you came home?
My eyes were really opened to the different cultures in America. Cultures I had just seen on TV and mostly presumed dramatised. I was wrong! It was a really diverse area with lots going on so I learned lots. I also became much more self-sufficient, independent and confident.
Any hints/tips for first-timers?
Be prepared for things to go wrong ! Consider that when you go over there that homesickness may come into the equation (but I would recommend sticking it out!). Make sure you budget when you’re over there, it can be very tempting to blow all of your money in the outlets. Of course, plan to travel when you’re there at the start/end of your trip (of both like I did!).
How did USIT help/support you?
USIT was a huge support to me. In WIT, there was an on-site USIT office in the Students’ Union and a regularly visited Kate and created a relationship with her that meant I felt I could ask any questions when I had any worries which was extremely helpful and put me at ease.
How did you get a job there?
My job story is unusual and it was before the new rules of getting a job before you go over had kicked in. I started a group chat with my two friends to share ideas and information about Myrtle Beach of which more people got added into as we found out acquaintances and their friends were also going. This snowballed into a big J1 Myrtle Beach chat which gained the attention of nightclub promoters in Myrtle Beach. I was headhunted and asked to work as a promoter for the Irish club nights when I was over there which was great.
I knew that wouldn’t have been enough on its own so I did message some restaurants on the beachfront but none gone back to me that way so I had to wait until I got there. On the first day I landed, I immediately went out with my resume and spoke to restaurant owners as I knew that’s where I could make the most money. I did an interview on the spot and was hired that day to start the week after.
Insider information or local knowledge on Myrtle Beach?
The local taxi man, Randy, was a huge help to J1 students over there. He organised day trips to nearby towns and advised people of the best places to go such as Charleston and Tanger Outlets. There are many motels that Irish people stayed in while we were there which really suited J1 students and lots of seasonal jobs.
Contact our J1 Team now to begin your adventure.