Endless options for life after university

Last year, the year-long graduate visa programme was extended for another three years.

In 2015 alone, almost 1,400 citizens chose the 12-month visa after graduation. While Trump originally vowed to abolish the J1 summer visa, 2,600 extra visas were allocated this year, proving that the American dream lives on for many of Ireland’s youth.

With so many options, it can be hard to decide what to do after graduating. From travelling abroad to diving straight into a career, every student’s choice of path is different.

The graduate visa, a year-long program that allows students to find an internship in their field of study in the States, remains a popular option.

After being in full time education for most of our childhood and young adult years, it’s easy to see why taking a gap year or two is attractive to graduates.

Claire Peterson, a past DCU student with a masters in digital marketing, decided she wanted to return to the States after doing a J1 in Ocean City, Maryland.

For some reason, I just thought New York would be an incredible place to live – probably mostly from seeing it in films, to be honest. I knew I’d have to work for a year to save funds to move, so that’s what I did,” she said.

After working for a year and saving up the funds, Claire took the big leap and moved to New York. While the experience has been enjoyable, she mentioned how tough it is to ‘make it’ there- “You’ve got to get your hustle on big-time. I think that’s the biggest benefit I’ll get from living here, learning how to get my hustle on”.

While thousands opt for a laid-back gap year or a graduate visa like Claire, many graduates can’t wait to escape college life and jump straight into work.

Siobhán Mulvey graduated from NUI Galway with a BA in English and History at the tender age of 20; the younger end of the graduate age spectrum.

“I felt fully aware that I was leaving college and entering the workforce at a premature age. However, I am extremely glad that I did so, rather than opting for a graduate visa, or indeed a masters programme. There is a tremendous amount of negativity thrown towards young students, particularly at Arts students, in that we expect to be unemployed or lacking opportunities when we graduated. In my experience this isn’t true,” she said.

While her career counsellor said she would be unemployed with an Arts degree, Siobhán proved them wrong and landed her dream job in the European Parliament in Brussels.

“I am very lucky in that I am developing skills in my chosen work sector. Entering the workforce does not equate a life that lacks in either adventure or travel, rather you will have extra pocket money for spontaneous weekend flights”.

Either way, there’s no right or wrong way of life after graduation; we’re lucky to have plenty of time and plenty of options to choose from.

Rachel Farrell