J-1 Experiences: Ali Browne
With a mindset of resilience and a lot of effort, J-1 Finds Professional Success in NYC
Prior to Ali’s J-1 year, she was working at a job she loved in Dublin. After realizing she only had one year of eligibility for the J-1 Graduate visa, she had to make the decision between a job at home she really loved and moving away and embracing uncertainty. Ultimately, she trusted her gut and decided that the J-1 Graduate visa was a great opportunity. Ali chose New York City to plant her roots in for the year ahead, and began her visa in August 2022.
Much of the first portion of Ali’s visa was devoted to finding a suitable internship. On the J-1 Graduate visa, students and graduates must find an internship that builds off of what they studied in university. Ali, a University College Dublin graduate, studied Computer Science with Data Science. Her job in Dublin was for a big multinational technology company, which Ali described herself as a small part of. She figured that she would look for the same type of work that she did at home. Candidly, Ali described to us that she had a more difficult time finding an internship. She realized that New York has the best of the best in the tech industry.
After a lot of hard work, Ali did find a position, before her deadline to do so. As she described it to us, Ali was committed to doing everything in her power to find a job- she said that if at the end of the day it did not work out, at least she knew she tried everything. Ali recalled the night she made the connection that led to her internship. That week she was in the last round of interviews, with her and one other candidate still in consideration. Ali got news that ultimately the company chose the other candidate. That same day the Irish Business Organization had a Christmas party. Ali was going back and forth with her mom on the phone trying to decide whether to go or not. Ali ended up going, and is sure glad she did, as that was the night she made the connection which led her to her current role at Smith Affiliated Capital.
Because of her job search- Ali has lots of advice for other J-1s in the same situation. She said her key to success was lots of applications and networking- like the Irish Business Organization Christmas party. She also recommended the First Friday breakfasts at the Irish Consulate. She plans to continue attending these even after finding her job to stay connected to the Irish community in NYC. She said that having a mindset of resilience and really putting in the effort before and during the first part of your visa will make a difference. For Ali, she says it was a bit of luck, hard work, and timing that she found her internship. She said, “Everyone has their own ways of getting jobs, there’s no one way to do it but do not give up. Be resilient and committed to fighting and finding one until the deadline.”
As she comes up on her sixth month in the United States, she reflects that finding a job is the stressful part- so she recommends preparing as much as you can before starting the visa. Due to COVID, there are so many opportunities online, so “you should really do as much as you can at home.” She would also tell others to learn how to sell your skills. She said that it’s not an Irish thing to do, but being a bit American and figuring out how to sell your skillet to employers will help in the long run. She would also remind J-1s to enjoy themselves during the job hunt too. Schedule off time in your day dedicated to the job search, then go out and experience where you are living.
As for what she gets up to outside of the office, Ali has joined the local Gaelic league! She said it only took her moving across the Atlantic to try the sport out, but she loves it. The Rian team put her in touch too with other J-1s headed over to the States around the same time as her. Because of that connection, she found a best friend! Ali has also been getting to know her American colleagues. She said that it’s nice to have a balance between Irish and American culture with the community she surrounds herself with.
Ali told us that her favorite part of the visa so far is being able to show her friends from home her new home. She says it is a surreal experience, calling New York her home. But she’s happy to show them a local’s insight into the city. She looks forward to her family visiting her soon.