Andrew Morrissey has been living in New York since May 2015 on the 1 Year USA Graduate Programme, following on from graduating from UCD with a Degree in Politics & Geography. This month we caught up with Andrew to talk about his experience on the programme to date…
What made you decide to go for the 1 Year USA Programme?
The 1 Year USA Programme has become somewhat a ‘rite of passage’ for so many Irish recent graduates. Having visited the United States on a few previous occasions and knowing so many people who have had positive experiences on this very programme, I can’t say that this was ever intended to be a great voyage of new discoveries for me. Both my brother and father have careers which are very U.S. focused and they gave me great insight into what to expect of the work culture over here – strong work ethic, positivity and a fantastic ‘can do’ attitude. My motivation for embarking on this visa programme was to explore potential career options while experiencing American culture. As it has turned out, it has in fact proved to be a voyage of new discoveries.
What kind of internship did you find and what kind of projects did you/are you working on?
In advance of arriving in America, I had a very clear idea of what kind of internship I wanted. I’ve been lucky to have landed a number of internships in the past both in the U.S. and elsewhere and what I learned overall from these collective experiences is that real world exposure is far more beneficial to me than any academic manuals or lectures. While I spent my time in university studying politics and geography, my previous work experience (and indeed my interest) lay in public relations. Within a matter of days, I had secured an internship with a PR firm in Midtown Manhattan. I was overjoyed. I felt like that kid in Suits who landed a job at a top law firm without ever going to law school. However, my time at the firm was far from pleasant and within a matter of months, I was back on the job hunt.
Following a few weeks of applications, phone calls, coffees, resumes and one-sided email chains, I received an email from a family friend and Irish journalist by the name of Niall O’Dowd. Niall was aware of my ongoing search efforts, and in true Irish American fashion, gave me very encouraging advice and recommended I contact a company called BerlinRosen, a political public relations firm based in the city. Whether realized or otherwise, Niall changed my entire perspective on working in America – he showed me that people over here help each other in a collegial manner and introduced me to a company and colleagues that I love working with. BerlinRosen were looking for an intern at the time to work with their New York public affairs team and subsequent to an interview and some showboating of the Irish accent, I was offered the gig. What transpired, and continues to transpire has been the greatest working experience I’ve ever had. The team at BerlinRosen run an incredible internship programme, filled with excitement, responsibility and very real challenges. It is a fantastic testing ground for anyone who’s serious about working in public affairs, and prepared to roll up their sleeves.
What has the highlight of your time in the USA been so far?
Being here gives me a massive thrill. I get a real kick out of the small things that remind you that you’re living in America. The traffic lights, buildings, foot paths. All these things are a reminder. They’re all so subtly different to what’s in Ireland but straight out of the movies that we all grew up watching. They remind you that you’re in America, where anything is possible. Even if you’re working in a dingy bar or working so hard in an office that you miss a meal or three, it’s amazing to be a part of it all. It’s important not to forget how lucky we are that we’re here, even if it takes a traffic light to remind us.
One piece of advice you would give to people who are thinking about going on the programme?
Do it. I spent plenty of time waiting around in Dublin, hoping that I could get a job oversees from the comfort of my own home. After numerous Skype interviews at unsociable hours due to the time difference, I concluded that I wasn’t going to get a job by video calling strangers in my pajamas who could only see the top of my shirt and tie. Book your visa, book your flights and get on the ground. The only thing that will get you the job you want is knocking on doors.
If you’re interested in moving to the USA on the programme in 2016, visit our website or get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to start the application process with a €249 deposit. Places are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment!