On May 29th, 2015, myself and three of my best friends embarked on what can only be described as a trip of a lifetime. We were flying to San Francisco like hundreds of other Irish Students on a J1 Visa. I can honestly say choosing to go on a J1 was the best decision I have ever made.
We had our accommodation booked before we flew to the States. A fraternity in Berkeley, California was where I was going to spend the next three months of my life and nothing could have prepared me for the rollercoaster adventure I was about to experience.
There were 30 fraternity brothers and 14 Irish students living in the house for the summer. There was never a dull moment with frat parties every weekend, camping excursions, pool parties, rollercoaster rides and rafting trips on American River.
A week after I arrived in Berkeley, after handing out dozens of résumés, I spotted a job on a website called Localwise. It was a custom event invitation company called Twig & Fig. They were looking for someone to help create and assemble the invitations. I sent them my résumé and they got back to me immediately offering me a paid trial for the next day. I went and met the owners, Suzie and Serge, who are two of the most talented and kindest people I have ever encountered. They explained to me what I was expected to do, told me I had to pay excellent attention to detail and I would have to be able to work well under pressure in order to meet deadlines. This all sounded good to me so I began to work on the invitations.
The invitation was a candle encased in a beautiful white lantern. They were for a 40th Birthday Party and Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon were among the guests invited. An order of 200 invitations like this would cost the client around twenty thousand dollars. I finished up at 6 that evening and I was offered the job. I couldn’t believe my luck. During my time there I made event invitations from wood, glass, metal, faux fur, crystals and mirrors. I was working 40 hours a week and making well above minimum wage doing a job I absolutely loved. It was such a rewarding job and enjoyable at the same time.
After 10 weeks of working, the only thing left to do was to go traveling and spend some of my hard earned cash. I went everywhere from Huntington Beach to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and finished up the adventure in the fabulous Las Vegas. It was the perfect ending to what could only be described as a perfect summer.
My job was definitely the pinnacle of my J1 experience and while that may not be the highlight for most students, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
Image Credit: Aoife McCormack