The New York Adventures of an Irish Expat
Once I had $50 left in the bank and somehow managed to spend $103 on alcohol and snacks. Welcome to my life.
Who am I? That’s one secret I’ll never tell. Except my name is in the title, so I guess you’ve figured that much out. I’m an Irish expat who has invaded your country to take your jobs! All the jobs, even the ones I’m not qualified for, because I’m Irish and I can. lol.
It is true that I get away with a lot in the city of New York because of my accent and my genuine lust for the craic (pronounced “crack”), which is “a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland. It is often used with the definite article — the craic — as in the expression ‘What’s the craic?’ (meaning ‘How are you?’ or ‘What’s happening?’).” I stole that from Wikipedia. They do a decent job of explaining it, but craic is not only a word — it’s a state of mind. I hope you’re taking notes; there will be a quiz later.
This column, punderfully named Dublin’ Down With Kelly Brown, will detail my experiences of moving to the Big Apple, trying to find a job and a home and a life in 90 days.
That’s right, folks! The visa company gave us three short months to get our shit together and build a life.
Yes, they provided us with a visa, but that’s about it. Do you know how hard it is to find a job with a degree in English literature and French? Not very — I did it in a month and a half.😏 It almost killed me, though.
Further Reading: “4 Tips to Land Your First Job Right After College”
The Beginning of My New York Adventures
When I moved here for good just after Christmas 2017, I was blessed to have already spent some time in New York City, and thus had some wonderful American friends. To say they saved my skin is an understatement. My friend Amanda let me stay in her Brooklyn apartment rent-free until I found a place of my own.
Thank the lord she did, as my unlucky ass had no income to speak of. And with the prospects that lay before me, it looked as if an unpaid internship was on the horizon. I probably would have had to sell my body to science just to stay alive had that been the case, as my parents were not in a position to help me out financially. Knowing that they wanted to help so badly but seeing that they really couldn’t lit a fire under me, making my resolve to find something paid even more desperate and necessary for my survival.
An Unpaid Opportunity
Alas, as the world would have it, the visa clock was ticking. I scrambled to find something — anything — that would satisfy the terms of my visa. In my search, I found an opportunity that on paper sounded ideal: an internship with a literary agency that tested the merits of not only books, but film scripts too. It was going to be unpaid, but what the hell? I was desperate. So there I was, a girl from Dublin who was about to start working on film, television, and literature in the city that many people consider the capital of the world. To say I was delighted is an understatement.
This led to my first big New York life lesson: If it seems too good to be true, it is.
The job consisted of me and several other people around my age sitting in the living room of a woman’s home office in a makeshift kumbaya circle for seven hours a day, reading through the slush pile.
Further Reading: “Working at a Crummy Job Can Set You Up for Life!”
I hear you saying, “Kelly, that doesn’t sound too bad.” Let me tell you, it was bad. If you were unlucky enough to be the last to arrive in the morning, you had to sit on the floor. Seven hours. On the floor. Day after day. Hell.
One of the rules was “absolutely no eating of any kind in this room, and water is the only beverage allowed. You can take a break, but people normally don’t.” As in, breaks are discouraged. Wonderful.
I would have been willing to stomach all this for the experience, except the feedback that the boss wanted from us was embarrassing in its simplicity. We had to read the manuscripts and say if we liked the characters, if the story was good, if the dialogue read nicely.
It was like being back in elementary school again. Once, I commented on syntax and overuse of exclamation points, and my boss yelled at me for getting too technical. The book was unreadable by many standards because of this, but sure, too technical. I didn’t have much integrity in my job hunt, but this insulted the little bit I had. I lasted two weeks.
Further Reading: “Hate Your Job? Quit Complaining and Take Action”
The Job Search Resumes
Cue the panic of being jobless yet again. My visa company was emailing me constantly, “just to check in.” I’m sure Hedy was “just checking in” in Single White Female, too.
Alas, my search began anew. I spent days filling out identical application forms with the same information that could easily be gleaned from my résumé. I started following so many publishers and writers on Twitter, favoriting their tweets in the hopes they’d recognize me and miraculously offer me a job.
You can tell someone’s professional worth from their tweets, right? I was not going to give up until I tried every means possible.
Did I mention that if I didn’t find a job in three months, I would be shipped back to Ireland? Yeah.
Finding a Home at CentSai
Then came the email from my current job at CentSai, after I applied via Indeed.com. Honestly, when I saw the company described as a “financial literacy platform,” I thought that there was no way my English skills could be relevant to it, nor did I think I would have much interest in it personally.
I was almost ready to do a quick crash course about finance with Investopedia Academy. Unfortunately, my time wouldn’t allow me, but I learned eventually.
Nevertheless, I soldiered on. At least I’d have more experience interviewing. I had nothing to lose, and after several failed attempts because of my health and the boss’s busy schedule, we eventually met.
Turns out it was a match made in heaven. Here I am with my own column and a paid position as a member of the team. I lucked out big time, but I swear I’m not here to brag; I wasn’t going to go for this interview at first, as the sound of the job intimidated and, frankly, slightly bored me.
Further Reading: Get tips on how to ace a job interview.
I’m so glad that I swallowed my fear and jumped in head first. The only way you’re going to get ahead in this city is to go out of your comfort zone. I’m a young woman with no prior interest in finance or financial literacy, yet here I am, making my mark in my way.
Stay Tuned for More New York Adventures!
It’s easy to be this optimistic now that everything seemingly worked out. (January and February me would have told you where to go, in no uncertain terms.) One thing I’ve learned from moving here is that things almost never turn out as you had hoped, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You need to make sacrifices to live in the city of dreams!
Want to know how I managed to get my apartment squared away without a credit score? Tune in next week, friends.