'What lies ahead for us is uncertain'


GENERATION EMIGRATION:This year’s journalism class at the University of Limerick began their course in 2008. Now, as they prepare to graduate, the students explain their plans for the future, and whether they will emigrate or remain at home

Aisling Hussey

When we started our degree in journalism, in 2008, the recession had just begun. This is the best time to be in college, we were told. Everything will be okay by the time you graduate. It is 2012 now, and we will have finished our course within a month. The recession has not blown over, and prospects are even bleaker for graduates now than they were when we started at the University of Limerick.

What lies ahead for the class of 2012 is uncertain. Many of us have already worked for newspapers or radio stations as part of our mandatory six-month work placement, but only one person has a full-time job lined up for next year.

I will be starting a five-month placement at a national newspaper in August. The thought of moving to Dublin is daunting, but far less so than the alternative: emigration. Even worse is the thought of drawing the dole, as I have been earning my own money since the age of 15. I don’t know what will happen in December when my placement ends, but I have decided not to think about it too much until the time comes.

As much as I’d love to see the world, the option of taking a year out to travel is neither feasible nor realistic. I cannot risk leaving the country for a year only to come back to compete against even more journalism graduates.Ultimately, I see my future in Ireland, but only the best and the brightest will be able to stay. If I can’t find a job here, I will have no option but to leave.

I have wanted to be a journalist for as long as I can remember. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I am determined and willing to work as hard as I can to fulfil my goal, whether it is in this country or not, as are many of my classmates.

Deirdre Allen

Yesterday my aunt told me she would be having her wedding in September next year. I stared blankly at her; I had no idea whether I would be there or not. I don’t know where in the world I will be this September, let alone the following one.

It was an upsetting thought. I try to stay positive, but it is difficult not to worry. I will apply to as many media and PR companies as I can and hope for the best. I would love to get into radio or television, but it’s a competitive world, and many people are more qualified and experienced than me. But, with a determined attitude, you can go far.

I want to succeed and I want to do well. I’ve worked so hard to get through the past four years, and I’ve cost my parents a small fortune in the process. I refuse to let it all result in my drawing the dole.

Denise Callanan

I haven’t shaken my head to leaving Ireland yet. I’ve had some wonderful experiences living abroad, and I’ve yet to experience first-hand the Irish workplace for what it is meant to be.

I’m an optimistic person, and the dream is to be a respected journalist. I realise there will be a bit of slogging at the start, but there is only so much “work experience” one graduate can sanely do.

I think the mistake a minority of people are making is assuming it is a lifestyle choice that has young people leaving Ireland every day. Flip-flops, sun and daily barbies on an Australian beach sound enticing, but a summer would be enough. It cannot be an easy choice to leave your place of childhood and say goodbye to parents, grandparents, family and friends whom you do not know when you will see next.

All Ireland’s young people want is the opportunity to succeed and earn an honest wage.

David Kelly

I ran the marathon draped in an Tricolour and dressed as a leprechaun. As I approached the waterfront, I felt dazed and nauseous. I stumbled on and crossed the line with my Canadian mate, buoyed on by the chorus of applause from locals and some Irish folk who had gathered.

That was Beirut two years ago. It was a turbulent and lonesome time for me; I had never been so far from home. I longed for Ireland as feelings of homesickness and regret consumed me day after day. Christmas finally came, and I swapped 25 degree heat for minus 17. It was a relief, although I feared I wouldn’t make it back because of cancellations.

Two months later I went to Glasgow, where I had the time of my life. I have since returned three or four times. I see my future there; the people, the pride and the sense of community are unrivalled. I feel Ireland has become too embroiled in materialism – where is the sense of community we are so famous for? I envisage a stint in Australia to fund myself in the short term. I know from past experience, however, whether it’s being followed to an Irish pub by a guy because he sees you wearing a GAA jersey, or walking into a bar in Cyprus to watch Tipperary and Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final and being bought a drink by a couple from Cahir, there will always be people in your shoes. Be proud of who you are and where you come from.

Jason Kennedy

Several years ago I thought I would be instantly employable. I had experience in a number of national newspapers and had a bit of broadcasting experience. I thought that I would be one of the masses who would walk out of college and stroll into a dream job. Four years of college later and I know that will not be the case.

I am one of the lucky ones to have been offered a placement at a national newspaper, but I am not sure whether this is a short-term or long-term position. Either way, I will milk it for all that it is worth. After all, I was convinced I would have to emigrate to find work.

I am not going to play the blame game and vent my frustrations on our lacklustre Government. I will knuckle down, hit the ground running and, with luck, prove myself to be a capable journalist.

Emma O’Brien

If emigrating were an option for me and my family, then I would be on the first plane out of here. I have no option but to stay in Ireland and seek freelance work, possibly do some online work and find a job that gives me a regular income to pay my bills.

I would advise anyone with the chance to leave Ireland to do it. There are very few prospects here, and the future looks grim. I’ll be advising my son, who is 13, to do the same, if it means he has a better chance at life.

Jean O’Donovan

I don’t have any concrete plans when I finish college, but my main goal is to work in radio and gain more experience. Over the summer I will work as a researcher for an opinion phone-in show at a regional radio station. Following this, I hope to secure work at a national station, so I have been applying to various places over the past few weeks.

Other options have crossed my mind, such as teaching English abroad or travelling for a year. I have also thought about emigrating to Australia or Canada, but my fear is that I would not find any journalism-related work. I know these would be great experiences, but it’s important to try to work in the industry I have spent the past four years studying, especially as one of the first group of graduates from the course.

Neil Treacy

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the sports guy. It was all I ever did when I was young. I played it, watched it on TV, listened to it on the radio and read about it in books and the paper. My playing career was tragically cut short, though, through my lack of skills and basic co-ordination. Journalism became the next stop.

When I graduate this year, becoming a sports guy, whether it is in print or broadcast, is all I want to do. But, more than that, I’d like to have the chance to do it in Ireland. I’m not holding my breath, though. I’m continuing to apply to as many places as I can, but if nothing comes of it by the summer, I may have to go back to the drawing board.

But whether my future lies at home or abroad, I know for certain that I want to be a sports guy.

Sharon Whelton

It’s hard to look past the dreaded yet inevitable E-word: emigration. I wish things could be different, but we’re stuck in a country that is currently riddled with financial problems. I am juggling between two options: to teach English in the United Arab Emirates or go to Canada on a working visa for a year.

It’s not easy to think that the likelihood of guaranteed employment following graduation is pretty much slim to none, particularly in Ireland.

Emigration is the only option for me. It would be tough, but it’s what is now deemed the norm for fresh college graduates. The option of pursuing a postgraduate course is always there, but there is no guarantee of employment in journalism after an extra year of studies. Who knows what the future will bring, but I can almost guarantee that, come September, I won’t be in Ireland.

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