A J1 Graduate Perspective

The search began 4 months prior to my departure to New York City. I reached out to numerous organizations, alumni, contacts, blogs, social network and job websites…anyone or any medium that could possibly secure me employment. I spoke to a lot of people on Skype who were based in the city and they stressed how competitive, cut throat and exhausting it is to find your dream job or even any job coming fresh out of university. The caliber of young professionals and the current restrictions with visas posed a lot of uncertainty about immigrating to the US. Not to put you off but it was difficult and temperamental when researching for employment. You have to be fully invested and ready for a tough slog or you will not find yourself on your desired career path. When I started my hunt, I developed an outreach system to my potential job prospects – treating it almost like a final project for my Masters. My approach was quite simple, don’t ask for too much just ask for career advice.

Numerous sources identified the Digital Irish community as infrastructure and support to fine tune and groom you for the US, so it made sense to connect with the group and simply ask for advice. Feargall Kenny and Gavin McMahon responded quickly and within a week I had been added to the jobs mailing list, given resume feedback and I spoke to both members on the phone. Seven weeks out I applied and interviewed for a sales development role for a FinTech startup which was posted on the Digital Irish jobs mail list. Before I even landed in NYC I had been offered a job. What made this process easier for me was that I was very specific in what job I was looking for when I asked for direction, so when an opportunity presented itself they knew I was a good fit for the position and company.

I’m now working for a startup which is dynamic, vibrant and exciting. I have been given the opportunity to build a sales cycle and strategy from scratch. I am learning how to create a sales process, drive growth and execute strategy. The sales floor is competitive, fast paced and the environment is collaborative. We attend meetups to ensure we are current and involved in the tech ecosystem and to bounce ideas off other startups. The role has exceeded all my expectations coming from a graduate position and of course the commission structure helps too! It can be challenging and pressurizing but that’s what you sign up for in tech sales in NYC.

My recommendation to anyone making the big move is to reach out and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to contact people for guidance and advice. Most importantly, make sure you stay connected and get involved with your Irish community for the whole journey, don’t just hitch a ride at the start and drop off half way. When I landed, the first Digital Irish event I attended was hosted by Gavin McMahon. Even though I had secured employment, it was still an opportunity to broaden my network, learn how to elevate my success in NYC and connected me with other young professionals with the same mindset and drive. Digital Irish provided me the guidance and leverage needed to begin my career in NYC.

For those who want to add value, develop and contribute, I wouldn’t think twice about getting involved.

My 6 Key takeaways are…

1. You have technology, use it!

The internet is a beautiful thing, use it to broaden your reach. It is worth investing in LinkedIn premium for a month or two just before you depart. Use InMail to target key contacts and set up meetings before you touch down.

2. Grow thick skin

You will be rejected and get no replies from your outreach. Persistence and resilience pays off when on the job hunt.

3. Contribute your cultural piece

You’re unique, so don’t forget your affiliation with Ireland, share your characteristics, knowledge and experience with your colleagues. Be positive, confident and put yourself out there.

4. Taste some strange

Meet the weird and wonderful, attend different meetups, events, exhibitions, galleries than your business background or discipline. It will spark creativity and promote entrepreneurism which you didn’t know you had

5. Locked and loaded

Make sure you know exactly what job, industry and territory you want to go in with your career. Americans are direct and focused. You need to be too. Have your contact book, resume, business cards and personal sale pitch perfected. Make sure these are constantly in sync with your activity and updated.

6. Don’t just dip your toe, go for the full swim

If you join a network, keep involved with the network. Don’t just show up when you’re looking for a new job. Be an active member and keep in the loop throughout the progression of your career.

Lastly, remember, “If you’re lucky enough to get the elevator up, make sure you send it back down.”


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