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US embassy in Dublin demonstrates the long-term value of the J-1 Programme with alumni open day

29 September 2014
29 Sep 2014 -

Before addressing WYSTC 2014 delegates on the current key topics surrounding the J-1 Visitor Exchange Programme, Robin Lerner – Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – took advantage of her time in Dublin to join the US Embassy’s J-1 Connect event last week.

Described as “the biggest alumni networking event in Ireland”, the event was open to anyone who had ever taken part in a J-1 exchange programme to the US who were keen to capitalise on that experience.

The free event was created to celebrate the success of the programme in Ireland, which has attracted over 150,000 Irish participants across the last fifty years. Highlights included a series of networking events and professional workshops to help build on the skills made during their time in the US, with Robin joining a panel of notable Irish J-1 alumni from the world of business, politics, academia and culture. This included sessions with LinkedIn who attended to talk about how former participants could capitalise on their J-1 experience.

Partners included TravelUSA, BrandUSA, EdUSA and SelectUSA who coordinated workshops to advise J-1 alumni on how to continue their US connection by travelling, studying or starting a business in the US.  Other US companies and organisations involved included Delta Airlines, who sponsored a free flight, and J-1 sponsor agencies Inter Exchange and CIEE who were joined by Irish J-1 agencies and businesses.

Ms Lerner said: “This is the first time that we’ve ever tried something like this. The J-1 exchange is very big in Ireland and is considered a real rite of passage for Irish youth. In fact, Ireland is the fourth largest Exchange Visitor Programme sending country in Europe and the sixth largest globally with almost 11,000 in 2013. The numbers are all the more impressive when you consider the size of the country and the population numbers.

“With so many Irish companies started by entrepreneurs inspired by their J-1 experience, it’s clear the programme has had a big impact on Irish business which is a tremendous story to share today.”