March 23, 2023
According to Aine Foley, Providence, Rhode Island, could be the
next big place to spend your J-1 year!
She is a current University of Limerick student completing her third year placement at Energy Electric Contractors. As a Construction Management student, she knew that doing her co-op in the United States would give her invaluable experience. Aine saw the internship as her first opportunity to apply her university learning to a true work experience. Ultimately, her goal for the visa year is to get the most out of the experience – and she has done just that!
With her work secured, Aine switched her attention to finding accommodations. The only thing she and her friend Aoife, also on the same course at UL, knew about Providence was that it was home to Brown University. They decided to live in Providence because they thought the presence of Brown and other colleges would mean housing. They were right! As Aine describes it, they found a “nice little spot in a cute area.”
Fast forward to January 2023, when Aine began her internship as an assistant project manager at Energy Electric Contractors. At the start, Aine did most onboarding in the office, and was excited to get out on-site when she had the opportunity to. She is getting a real insight into what the day-to-day work of project managers includes.
Now that she is trained up, she finds herself completing whichever task the project manager has for her. She is onsite every week completing health and safety inspections. When she has the opportunity, she collaborates with staff in other departments.
Now that it’s March, she is feeling more settled into her J-1 year. She says she doesn't feel like it has hit her yet. She will not realize the magnitude of her year abroad until she is back home. She felt a bit homesick at the start, but overall found that her transition to the States was smooth because her job and accommodations were set.
Her goal for the last couple of months has been to get settled in. Now that she has, she can look ahead to the rest of the year. Professionally, she hopes to get the most of her internship which she can build upon once she gets back home.
She hopes to travel as well. In fact, she already has two trips booked – one to Miami for the Fourth of July and the other to Kentucky to tour horse farms. Of course, she plans to enjoy a staple of American culture – American sports. She hopes to get tickets to professional baseball games and to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
As she reflects on her start to her year abroad, Aine has advice for other J-1s. First, start planning their year in the States as soon as they can, and plan it out well. Aine did not leave anything to the last minute, an attitude that she says is part to her success so far. She also recommends Facebook and Gradbnb to find options for accommodations. Aine also says not to be afraid to ask for help! She reached out to organizations and universities for leads on housing and resources.
There are little insights that Aine passes along to prospective J-1s. For example, be aware that sales tax is added on once you pay for the item, rather than included in the ticket price. She also notes that in the States the Imperial system is used, i.e. inches, feet, pounds, rather than the metric system. One insight that has stuck with her however is how lovely everyone has been. She has found that people are so willing to help and very open to questions.
When Aine looks to a year from now, she sees herself back at university, finishing up her final year. She will have to complete a final-year project based off of her internship at Energy Electric Contractors. She has already started to think about what her project could be on! This internship will be a pivotal part of Aine’s career so far as it builds the foundation from which she will grow. She’s excited for what is ahead during her J-1 year and beyond!
To see photos from Aine’s year and for more J-1 stories like hers, follow our Instagram @rianj_1.