Grad Visa Stories: Billy’s Year in Texas

We caught up with Billy after his year-long Grad Visa experience in Texas. Reflecting on the decisions he made and his time there here is Billy’s story!

Decision

Having completed my degree in Sports and Exercise Management in UCD, I found myself seeking to gain a career in an industry that was small and generally closed off here in Ireland. Due to this, along with the fact that I had previously spent time in the U.S. on USIT’s Coach Soccer in the USA programme, I decided that heading to the U.S. was not only a massive opportunity to gain vital experience but also a further chance to travel the U.S. and immerse myself in the culture. If I did not grasp this opportunity within 1 year of finishing college, the chances of having an extended stay in the U.S. would be reduced significantly. The process was straightforward and made simple with the help of USIT, allowing my arrival in the States to run smoothly.

The Lone Star State

My arrival in Houston was action-packed. Having never visited the city before, I took the first couple of days to get my bearings and see what it had to offer. I was in awe at the sheer size of the city, it was like no place I had ever been and offered endless sites and attractions. Having attempted to gain some contacts before my arrival through LinkedIn and Facebook groups, I had plenty of people to meet in this first week. This played a huge role in settling into the new surroundings as not only was I greeted with the top draw “Southern Hospitality” but with Houston having a small, close-knit Irish community, I was welcomed with open arms. Although I had an interview in Dallas in my first week, the reception I had received in Houston already had me set on staying there.

Houston, we have a problem

Moving to a new city, knowing no one, along with having no job or accommodation lined up can be a daunting process. However, it is often putting yourself in these situations, out of your comfort zone which provides the most memorable experiences. Having developed some connections within the Irish community already, I relied and worked on these to create a network in the search for a new job and home.

I was rewarded quickly, as, by the end of my first week in this vast city, I had viewed a room from a fellow Irishman and agreed to move in the following week. Located in the city centre, at a fraction of the cost of Ireland, (of course there was an “Irish Discount” included), this provided me with the perfect launchpad to kickstart my time in Space City.

The job hunt proved slightly more difficult. Having graduated with such a specific degree, and seeking employment directly in this industry, I was dead set on holding out for the right opportunity. Having interviewed with professional teams in the NFL, NBA and MLS, the expected role did not materialise. However, I found myself gaining the experience I desired in a newly opened state of the art football, (soccer), facility. Once all these tasks had been fulfilled, it was time to start discovering what the U.S. had to offer.

Unforgettable Experiences

Having got my life in order, I set about experiencing as much of what American life had to offer as possible. An early highlight was St. Patrick’s Day in Boston. Having been away for a couple of months this allowed me to re-engage fully with Irish culture for a weekend.  A road trip was then in order, a chance to tick off many states and see some of the most beautiful sites of the country. This trip, which included Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and Glacier Point along a stretch from Houston to Seattle, was a personal highlight and something which would not be possible on a short trip to the States.

Along which such trips, there were plenty of unforgettable experiences ticked off the bucket list in only 12 months. New Year’s Eve in New Orleans, experiencing the Live Music Capital of the World in Austin, a World Series Game on my doorstep in Houston were highlights in a year of events such as the rodeo, NFL and NBA games, Horse Racing, Music Festivals, and a local favourite, Turtle Racing Thursday’s. If you can think of it, chances are, it is taking place somewhere in the U.S.

This year is one which developed me both personally and professionally, I have had some fantastic experiences along the way and made some friends for life.

Make sure you grab your chance to live the American Dream while you can! You won’t regret it!

The  USIT 2020 Grad Visa Programme applications are now open!

 

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