By Janey Tallarida

Irish Consul General Michael Lonergan opens the IIIC Business Breakfast with a hopeful message on the Irish economy

On a soft rainy morning reminiscent of Ireland, over 30 local business leaders gathered together at IIIC for a discussion of the Irish economy and the impact of IIIC’s J1 Irish Work and Travel (J1IWT) program.

Irish Consul General Michael Lonergan began the talk with a hopeful message: despite a high unemployment rate, the economy has improved over the past 18 months. Exports are growing at record levels, and U.S. investment in Irish companies is high. And the future looks bright for another important reason. For many years, Ireland has invested heavily in its education system, producing exceptionally talented and eager young workers.

Joe McCue couldn’t agree more. Looking to hire the best people for IT contract labor company Cue Data Services, Inc., he found a number of Irish people whose experience and skills were just what he was looking for. With the generous support of The American Ireland Fund and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs’ Emigrant Support Program, the IIIC is doing its part to help other companies find talented Irish workers by matching students and recent graduates with year-long internships.

Megan Carroll, who joined the IIIC’s J1 IWT learning exchange program as director of intern placements, believes the program is a win-win situation. Host employers have a choice of highly qualified people, pre-screened by Megan and determined to be a good match, at no cost to the company.

“The program attracts exceptional students from top-tier universities,” says Megan.

On the flipside, interns gain skills and experience they can put to good use when they return home to Ireland.

IIIC’s Megan Carroll presents an overview of IIIC’s new intern placement service for Irish students and graduates.

One company which knows the value of the program first-hand is Arbella Insurance, which hired Brian Lyons to work in its human resources department.

“Our experience has been more impressive than we had hoped for,” said Susan Glynn, director of talent development. “Brian adds value; he is responsible, welcoming and reaches out to people. He is just the type of person we need in human resources.”

Somerville-based moving company Gentle Giant has also had positive experiences with IIIC’s J1 IWT interns. They currently have two such interns working for them and make it a point to hire enthusiastic interns to work in areas including IT, web design and human resources.

As people left the breakfast for work, there was general optimism about the Irish economy and the J1-IWT program. Steve Greeley, Executive Director of The American Ireland Fund expressed the Fund’s optimism:

“We are delighted to support this important work,” he said. “The skills and level of expertise that these interns bring is terrific. In addition, they will return to Ireland and contribute to the recovery of Ireland’s economy. It is a win/win. The program is truly a representation of the special relationship that the U.S. and Ireland have.”

To learn more about IIIC’s J1 IWT learning exchange program, contact Megan Carroll at 617-542-7654 ext. 23 or mcarroll@iiicenter.org.