Shock, horror, I moved to New York a few weeks ago. Not that I’ve mentioned it already, or put it in all of my social media bios, or posted Instagram stories every day or already blogged about it ten times, but yes, I moved to New York one month ago.
When I used to read blogs about people living in New York or generally being an expat somewhere, I always wondered how on earth they got there. The logistics were always what I wanted to know; the visas, sorting accommodation, spending money, how to get a job – all of it. So I’m guessing there may be a few people reading about me living and working in New York and wondering the exact same thing.
Unfortunately, what I’m going to tell you is all very basic because for the most part, it was sorted for me. I’ve spoken before about the program that I’m on as that’s how I got a job in New York, but I’ll tell you more about the ins and outs of what they do and how they helped me get to New York and organise my life out here.
The Mountbatten Program
So Mountbatten is the program that I’m currently on and will be for the next 11 months. There are two intakes to New York during the year, which is March and August. I’m out here on the August intake so will be here until my time is up in August 2020. There is also a 30 day grace period which the US give you to tie up loose ends, pack up and move out (aka 30 days to travel around America before you have to go home).
There are different options on the program, but the main thing is that you have a year-long internship at a company in Manhattan. I’m on the internship-only option which means I’m just out here to work and spend all of my free time doing whatever I please – traveling, exploring New York, eating $1 pizza slices, that kind of thing. The other options are to do a Masters alongside the internship or an MBA which ends with six weeks in Thailand.
The main thing I wanted out of the program was the experience of living and working in New York, so I didn’t want to use up a lot of that time worrying about assignments/doing university work. If I’m only in New York for one year, then I want to see as much of New York as I can.
How I got my job in New York
So I applied for the Mountbatten Program back in March of this year while in my final year of university. I was accepted onto the program and then had an interview in May and made it through to the next stage which was the candidate pool in June. This meant I was then going to be put forward for available roles based on my degree, work experience and interests.
It wasn’t until late July that I started to have phone interviews with companies in New York for roles in communications and marketing. I’m not going to lie, the timing of everything probably made it the most stressful time of my life since I was moving out of Liverpool to go back to Ireland without a place guaranteed in New York while having to turn down amazing opportunities in London in the hope that New York would come through – thank God it did!
I interviewed for two companies for communications roles and was unsuccessful in both. However, the first company I interviewed with spoke a lot about my experience in influencer marketing but they didn’t have an intern role available in their influencer marketing department in the company. I received a phone call a few days later to say they had created an influencer marketing position in the company for me! And so, it was off to New York!
I’m working at a very well-known financial company in the Financial District of Manhattan (it’s on my LinkedIn page if you want to know) and it’s right next to One World Trade which means a nifty fifteen minute commute to work.
I didn’t think I would be able to get a job in influencer marketing coming through the Mountbatten Program as most people work for Citi, HSBC, law firms and events companies. But I’m so, so glad I was given this role as I’m getting business-to-business experience in influencer marketing rather than business-to-consumer which I was doing in Coty, meaning I’ll get a rounded view of influencer marketing once my year is up. And then, I’ll hopefully be able to follow a career path in influencer marketing afterwards.
The living situation
So where am I living? Well, it’s not in New York, believe it or not. I’m actually a Jersey City resident, so truth’s out, I’m a fraud. My postcode is New Jersey so I visit two states every day just by popping to and from work on the Path train.
I couldn’t be happier with where I live though. It’s right on the Hudson river so we have the entire view of Midtown Manhattan (Empire State, Times Square) and FiDi (that’s the Financial District to all you Western folk) which is pretty amazing to look at every single night. It kind of makes you pinch yourself that you’re actually (almost) living in New York.
The area of Newport that I’m living in is actually super safe too with lots of kids everywhere, even late at night and dogs. So many dogs. The Path train that I take to work is a three minute walk from my flat which is very handy and makes the commute even shorter. The only thing I will say is that the trains aren’t as frequent as London. Even the Subway isn’t as frequent which baffles me a lot.
It’s really got me thinking though that if I was to move to work in New York in the future I might actually consider living in the Newport/Hoboken areas as they’re quite up and coming with a lot of cool bars and restaurants and such quick travel in and out of the city. Plus taxes are so much cheaper.
Luckily enough, the Mountbatten Program sort out all accommodation for the interns in Newport meaning we all live in the same building or in buildings across the way from each other. It’s kind of like being in university halls all over again, where you’re in a flat of five people that you’ve never met but on the same program. It’s probably one of the best things about the program since you have no worries about living situations and you have around 80 new pals that have also just moved to New York to work and are around the same age with similar interests.
One thing I will make you wary of is that in America it’s very normal to share a room with someone in your first year of college (like in dorms). So you can either be assigned the single room in the apartment or one of the double rooms. I’m in a shared double with another girl which I’m actually getting really used to. I got so used to one of my best friends staying over at my flat in Liverpool for the last month before I moved out that I actually missed her when she wasn’t there. It’s basically like having a sleepover every night which is nice. After six months, we change apartments when the new March intake arrives and we can request to be assigned a single room for the last six months of our stay or one of the double rooms in the apartment.
The J1 visa
I’m on a J1 trainee visa but what that really means, I don’t know. Everything was sorted through Mountbatten and I just had to apply online and turn up at my visa appointment in Belfast which was very handy as I was in and out in five minutes.
I was quite stressed about the whole visa thing as I’ve heard America is very tough and they could just say no, but it was honestly one of the easiest parts of the whole process.
What I really need to know is how I extend my J1 visa to stay here forever.
How did I hear about the program?
Very randomly to be quite honest. I was in London, about three weeks into my placement year and received an email from LJMU that was forwarded on information. The subject line was ‘How You Can Live and Work in New York After Graduation’. That subject line was all I needed.
So I looked into it. And then looked into it some more. And then researched absolutely everything about it. Was it real? Was it a scam? Could I actually do it?
I kept it in my head for a year and a half before I took the plunge and applied a week before the deadline back in March. I had found people that were on the program and had already completed it and got in touch to ask all the questions that I could think of.
In my honest opinion, it doesn’t seem to be the best advertised program as that email 18 months earlier was the only time I had ever heard of the program. If you want to know more about the program, you can have a look at their website or email me/DM me – I’ll be happy to answer anything at all!
Why move to New York?
Why the bloody hell not? I don’t know what it was, but during my final year I just knew that I wasn’t meant to go back to London so soon. I wanted a change of scenery but I also wanted to challenge myself by moving quite far away.
After vising Vegas last November, I knew America was where I needed to be. It’s also where I want to be after this year is over but how I’ll be able to stay, I don’t know.
I saw a lot of London during my placement year and think I did very well at living the best London life I could have possibly imagined in 13 months. So if not London, where would be even better?
I think everyone dreams of living in New York at one point in their life. I hadn’t even visited the city before I moved in August but I knew it was where I was going. And now here I am.
The only question is, where next? (If I don’t somehow get a green card by the end of the year)