J1 jobs are entry often entry level positions requiring little to no training.
But according to Thomas Keown of the Irish Immigration Center in Boston, in this economic climate, “people will work
harder to find employment” and will “pound the pavement” to get their hands on a job and needed accommodation.
Popular destinations for Irish students have traditionally included large cities such as New York, Boston and San Diego.
Keown told the Echo that the center had maintained “good relationships with business owners” in the Boston area that have been, and are, willing to employ Irish students.
Being “persistent,” he said, should pay off for a student regarding work availability and a place to call home
for the summer months.
While Boston is big, California is far bigger. So are the state’s economic woes and the J1 arrivals are feeling the heat.
Sarah Downey, a student at Dublin City University, told the Echo that when applying for a J1 visa there “was limited job availability in San Francisco due to the state of the economy and basically, my friends and I were advised against it.”
Indeed, Sarah and her friends had to make other arrangements for the summer after their California plans were brought to a screeching halt.
Siobhan Dennehy, executive director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York, declared that, “this is the toughest year for J1 applicants because of the economic downturn.”
And that means in some cases having to compete for summer jobs with locally unemployed in a way that was not the case in better times.
“They have to compete with the unemployed of New York,” said John Hayes, a J1 student who is working at the EIIC.
But even that does not entirely dim the allure of the Big Apple.
“J1 students come for the Manhattan experience,” said Dennehy, who finds it hard to persuade some students to work in tourist areas of Long Island and the Jersey Shore.
Rejection, or the waiting-to-hear-back period, can deflate the spirits of some students although John Hayes is of the view that those students that have come to New York are having a good time, despite the economic challenges.
Meanwhile, even the weather has hindered job searches this year.
“The outdoor job market is just not there,” said Dennehy.
Orla Kelleher, who heads the Aisling Center in Yonkers, said there were students already here for weeks that were still
staying in hostels.
“In our office we have four or five suitcases belonging to students trying to find jobs and accommodation,” said Kelleher.
“Due to the late start of the tourist season the amount of students coming to New York this summer is down.”
Students were being advised to come on a budget and with a return ticket in case they cannot find a job, Kelleher said.