The J1 Graduate USA Visa Program is becoming the number one gateway into the US for young Irish professionals. Being the media hub of the world, New York City sees an influx of Irish marketing graduates each year, all with the same goal of making waves in the digital marketing industry. Think you have what it takes to stay afloat? Tadhg Reynolds, a 24-year-old marketing graduate from Galway, Ireland gives his first-hand advice on how to conquer NYC's digital marketing scene.
When I first started telling friends and family that I was moving to New York to pursue a career in digital marketing, most people gave me the same answer: New York is a different level of competitiveness. It’s a hustle, a grind, and that it would not be clean sailing. I always brushed this off thinking ‘how hard could it be?’ Nine months later and I have a favorite saying regarding this city: ‘You don’t live in New York, you survive in New York.’ No matter what industry you are in, the competitiveness is at a different level to anywhere else in the world, especially a small place like Galway.
New York is the best city in the world for digital marketing. In Manhattan alone, there are 220,000 businesses and each of these businesses need marketing. I arrived in the city on my own in April of last year naively unprepared and unphased for what was in front of me. I now think maybe that was for the best. The first obstacle that young Irish graduates face when they enter the concrete jungle is the fight for a job. For every good job that is open, there are hundreds of people just like you wrestling for consideration. Being Irish, we are at a disadvantage in a way — due to all of the added stress which comes with visas that a company wouldn't have to worry about with a US employee. Over the course of four to six weeks of interviewing with companies, I got to the stage where I actually enjoyed the interview process. I enjoyed the questions I was asked and the challenges they brought. I really believe you need to have that mindset or the city can break you. There are so many obstacles that you will need to face with optimism or there is no point being here.
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Ever since I graduated university, and even before, I have always had ambitions of working full-time for myself. I love the idea of freedom and I thrive off the fact that my income is directly impacted by how much work I put in. However, I was aware that I could not arrive in New York and begin working for myself straight away. When you are entering a place like this just out of college, you need to have a sponge mentality. Your priority is to soak in as much information as possible and learn as much as you possibly can in the year or so that you are here. For example, I moved here thinking I knew Facebook ads. It turns out I did not know Facebook ads. In a city where everyone is constantly in a rush, learn not to rush things.
I am extremely fortunate with the company I began working for, SelfMade. They are a startup business located in downtown Manhattan. Every employee is in their 20s or early 30s and the culture here is unlike any other I have ever experienced. Everyone here is genuinely great friends. Not just work friends, but actual friends. I really think joining a startup is the best move if you are a graduate in New York. You cannot match the experience you get from working in a startup environment — like being thrown in the deep end to learn how to swim. In an established marketing agency with hundreds of employees, there is not much room for progression like there is at a startup. In my seven months here I changed job roles three times, each time moving forward.
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After seven months, I now feel I am at the position I was striving towards when I first decided to move. I am entering the world of social media marketing with my own company, this time partnered with SelfMade instead of working for SelfMade. The company has recently decided to take a new approach to their offering and instead of being a digital marketing agency, they are becoming a services hub for freelance marketing managers to utilize with their own clients. I am actively building my book of business with clients that I am excited to work with. I have the freedom to charge them whatever fee I feel is a match, and I can use SelfMade for any tasks I find time consuming or challenging such as finding high-quality leads or helping with email marketing. After nine months in New York, I am now at the position I imagined would take years to get to. With all that being said, here are my 5 tips I would share with any aspiring young digital marketing professionals aspiring to conquer the best city in the world:
1. Think long-term. If you are planning on making a dent in the world of digital marketing, it is going to take longer than the 12 months a graduate visa allows. From the start, begin considering options for your next visa to stay in the country for as long as is needed. Patience and commitment is what separates the best from the rest.
2. Network: Personally, I found networking to be one of the most challenging aspects of moving to New York. Before moving, I thought I was an outgoing person but it turns out that was just the case as everyone already knows everyone in Galway, so I never had to try. Attend networking events and reach out to people on LinkedIn.
3. Find a niche: As there is an endless amount of digital marketers in New York and an endless amount of potential clients, find a niche that matches your skills and knowledge and become an industry leader within this niche. For example, I love doing lead generation campaigns for fitness studios and gyms.
4. Start with a sponge mentality: If you are coming from Ireland and you have recently graduated college, you are just at the very tip of the iceberg in terms of your knowledge and experience in digital marketing. You have so much potential to learn in New York, so use it to your advantage.
5. Allocate your time wisely: There is so much going on in New York every single day, it can seem impossible to do everything. You want to put the work in to grow professionally, but you also want to enjoy what the city has to offer with friends. Find a good balance to do both. Plan your day or week to the hour. Get up a bit earlier and get your most important tasks completed in the morning. Keep working a bit longer in the evenings if needed but to make this a sustainable lifestyle, learn to take the time to enjoy yourself also.
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If you're thinking about making the move, follow Tadhg's NYC journey on Instagram @tadhgreynolds