Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Left behind by emigration, but determined to stay

As one of just two of my classmates still living in Ireland, I know moving abroad would bring me better employment and social opportunites, but I am determined to create a professional life for myself here, writes Bridget Fitzsimons.

Wed, Oct 3, 2012, 09:15

   

As one of just two of my classmates still living in Ireland, I know moving abroad would bring me better employment and social opportunites, but I am determined to create a professional life for myself here, writes Bridget Fitzsimons.

Bridget Fitzsimons: 'It is hard to make an argument for Dublin when nobody lives here anymore'

I am one of the unemployed graduates. A statistic that gets written about endlessly in newspapers, analysed on radio and television and pitied by those older than us, who thought our future was secure. In the miasma of journalism that has been done about unemployed graduates, we all seem to blend into one unified entity. Disillusioned and focused on emigration to London, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or any other country that will provide hope when there’s so little left for us at home.

The media has created an image of the graduate as something sad and hopeless. I would like to think I am neither of those things. Yes, the constant search for employment is crushing, especially when you often receive no reply at all. I am at the stage where I would be happy to receive rejection emails.

I am one of just two of my university friends still in Ireland. It is hard to make an argument for Dublin when nobody lives here anymore. We’re planning a class reunion and it’s easier for everyone to have it in the UK, because that’s where the majority of the group are now living.

I spent half of my childhood in the UK, returning to Ireland in the late 90s. As I grew up, everything seemed hopeful. I worked part-time through school and college, but by the time I graduated in 2010, the panic had set in about my future here. Emigration seemed like the only viable option for arts graduates and we were told at our graduation ceremony that the best idea for all of us was to pursue further study.

Since then, one of my friends has been urging me to join him in London. If I were to move, I would have a ready-made social circle thanks to the scores of university and childhood friends now living there. I could earn money and feel like I’m contributing to society again. There’s nothing more demoralising than searching for work, applying for jobseeker’s benefit and trying to create a sense of identity while watching your friends do extraordinarily well abroad.

It’s not that I think that those who leave are abandoning Ireland. I completely understand why they go. The government has given graduates very little incentive to stay. There has been no concerted effort to create a jobs stimulus, so it’s stay and look for any type of work you can find, or leave and do something you enjoy. Further emphasis is being placed on science, technology and business degrees. The sad reality is that without experience, you don’t get work, so many who have concentrated ón their studies over the last few years are now left with few prospects.

This has also led to exploitation in some cases, as unpaid work experience and internships have become the norm for those trying to break into the jobs market. I am happy to work hard to get to where I want to be, but schemes such as JobBridge allow companies free labour with little hope of a permanent job at the end for applicants.

In theory, leaving would be the best course of action for me, but there are several factors holding me back. While I miss my friends abroad, I want to stay in Ireland. While I’m not doing so at the moment, I want to be able to create a professional life here and to contribute to Ireland’s economic recovery, in whatever small way I can.

I have no plans to stop hunting for jobs for hours a day and I refuse to resign myself to permanent unemployment. My generation are hungrier and more willing to do whatever it takes to succeed than ever. We won’t have anything handed to us a plate, and will have to work hard to achieve our goals. I look forward to a time when Ireland is back on its feet, but it is important to me to stay here during the tough times as well.

Read more perspectives of young emigrants and others who are determined to stay in Ireland in last week’s article as part of the Generation Next series, ‘The longer people stay away, the less likely they are to return’.

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