By Niamh Lynch

Kim Jorgensen remembers what it’s like to be a fish out of water. As a college Junior the Georgia native decided to pack up her life and venture off to live in France for a six-month study abroad program. Although the experience would ultimately be tremendously rewarding, she remembers how initially overwhelming it was to navigate day-to-day life in a completely new culture. One of the reasonDSC_3893s she was able to make the most of the opportunity, however, was that she was part of a program that offered practical support both before and during her time abroad.

Today, as the newly appointed Manager of Intern Placement at the Irish International Immigrant Center, Jorgensen finds the roles reversed as she offers similar support to the hundreds of young Irish graduates who will participate in the Center’s J-1 Irish Work & Travel program. The project is jointly supported by the Irish Government and the American Ireland Fund and is intended to help current students and recent Irish graduates take advantage of a special J-1 visa whereby they may undertake an internship of up to one year in the United States. An important stipulation of the visa is that the U.S. internship must correspond to the applicant’s field of study back in Ireland. The IIIC offers one stop shopping for these individuals, providing everything from visa sponsorship to assistance in locating a quality internship in their chosen career field.

Previous to her appointment as Manager of Intern Placements, Jorgensen spent eighteen months working directly with the intern applicants, offering pre-program orientation and advice intended to help them arrive from Ireland ready to hit the ground running. This might mean helping them polish a resume, craft a strong cover letter, or familiarize themselves with relevant recruitment websites and job boards

In contrast to this work, Jorgensen’s new role will see her engaging directly with U.S. host companies, sustaining the Center’s existing contacts in various sectors and developing new ones on behalf of incoming program participants. It’s a challenge she relishes. “It’s really exciting for me to be in a position to help U.S. companies tap into a wellspring of young Irish talent,” she says. “This program is a genuine win-win…it offers as much to the host companies as it does to the interns they hire.”

Indeed the success of the now five-year-old program suggests that U.S. companies see it as a reliable source of highly educated and highly motivated interns. Jorgensen adds that these organizations “understand that it’s a global marketplace and that this is a chance to add fresh perspective to their team and to bring on board individuals with real insight into European industry training and practices.” On the other side of the equation, young people coming through the program return to Ireland with tangible gains including invaluable work experience in their field and familiarity with American corporate culture. These represent real advantages in an employment climate so competitive that it has forced many of their peers to emigrate.

Jorgensen is well aware of conditions in Ireland and considers her work as an integral part of the IIIC’s wider social mission. The Northeastern Master’s graduate says she was initially attracted to the organization by that mission and by the opportunity to make a positive contribution to community at both a local and an international level.

For his part, IIIC Executive Director Ronnie Millar sees Jorgensen as a perfect fit for her new role. “Kim is a tremendous asset for this program. Her previous experience working directly with applicants gives her a huge amount of credibility in speaking to potential host companies…she knows the applicants and so knows where they can deliver the greatest value and advantage for the host organization. Kim has already proven herself a great colleague and we’re delighted to have her with us in this new role.”

The pool of young Irish graduates available to intern in the U.S. includes individuals in virtually every professional field. If your organization is interested in hosting an intern or in learning more about the program please contact Kim Jorgensen at kjorgensen@iicenter.org or at 617-542-7654 ext. 19.