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Home  > Article

How I Got to Ireland, with a Little Help from USIT/BUNAC

By Christine Maynard

I was determined to return to the place I studied abroad, and find a real job in the Audio Visual field.

During college, I found that studying abroad is a brilliantly affordable way to discover more about yourself and the world around you. I was lucky that my University was affiliated with the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA), through which I was able to study in both Dublin and Galway while having plenty of time to explore the rest of the island on my own. I fell in love with Dublin within days of arriving and vowed to return there someday.

Going back to the States meant a return to my normal life. I continued working my way through school via my full-time job at Tower Records and several part-time jobs; even though I was ridiculously busy, I would spend my spare time trying to think of a way to get back to Dublin. I graduated with dual degrees in Music Business and Audio Video Production in May 2006 with hopes of ending up on a tour.

After going on countless interviews and getting nowhere in my hometown of Nashville, I began to look at moving to other cities. On a last ditch effort to stay close to home, I went to the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters job fair, where I bumped into a friend. We both joked about going to China to teach English just for the sake of having a job. Ironically, a few days later a package from USIT/BUNAC arrived in the mail.

USIT offers a variety of work abroad programs, but of particular interest to me was the work in the UK/Ireland program. The only major complication of both programs is that your time of entry has to be within a certain number of months after graduation. I emailed their offices and found that I could not attend the UK program, but I could go to
Ireland provided that I was in the country before February 12th. It seemed like a great idea, but the program only lasted for four months, and I had to weigh whether the cost of going for such a short period would be beneficial to my career in the long run. After a lot of personal debate, I finally decided to take the risk, sell my car and most of my possessions, and never look back.

Getting to Ireland in the middle of a Midwestern snow storm is not an easy task, but I finally arrived on the last flight to Dublin on the last day that I could still be allowed to participate in the program; after being shuffled between7 flights on 3 different airlines, I wasn't really surprised that my luggage was missing. Luckily, the program includes flight insurance, and the hostel where I was staying was very helpful with providing the necessities for the night.

The two hardest things to do when you move half way around the world are finding a job and a place to live. The USIT staff is extremely helpful with both. Most people who come on the USIT program work their 4 months in retail, restaurants, or temp jobs, and they have weekly interview sessions with two of the leading recruitment firms in Dublin. I was working with a temp agency within days, but I was determined to find a real job in my industry so that I could potentially get further work sponsorship that would allow me to stay longer.

After several weeks of effort, I was able to find a position with Pearl Audio Visuals. It wasn't long after that I found a great house with wonderful flatmates in the leafy south Dublin suburb of Ballsbridge. Public transport in Dublin is fantastic, and even though I live outside of city center proper, I am never more than a 5-minute train ride, a 10-minute bus ride, or a 20-minute walk from downtown. I managed to get my work permission extended to 2009, and I couldn't be happier with where I am in life. I have a great job making more than twice what I would be in the US, a beautiful house in a great neighborhood, and wonderful friends to share it all with--what more could an American girl working abroad ask for?







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