Recently our director Julia Lynes got the chance to have a chat with one of Ireland’s most successful rising stars on the New York Marketing & Advertising scene, Aisling Keogh. Like a lot of Irish grads are still doing today, she moved to the USA with a J-1 Visa and then…read on to find out where her journey has brought to her to now.
What did you study at 3rd level and where?
I had a keen interest in the arts and event management so I went to IADT Dun Laoghaire and got my BA degree in Business and Arts Management. It was here that I really started to become interested in business and media.
Growing up in a musical family, creativity was something that always played an important role in whatever I did. After considering a degree in pure music from a few colleges in Ireland, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the business of the arts. Saying that, while I was in college, I realized that a career in the arts wasn’t for me and that I was more interested in my other classes such as media and marketing.
Why did you decide to move to New York?
New York is the center of everything when it comes to marketing and advertising. Working with some of the biggest brands and agencies was something that I always aspired to do and I knew that I only had a small window of opportunity to move over of a J1 Visa. I finally moved over less than a month after graduating from college in 2010!
How did you find your first role in New York?
Finding a job in New York is difficult. Finding a job in New York as a recent graduate from another country is even more difficult – I didn’t know anyone, had no network of contacts and no real idea about what I wanted to do. Compounding the problem is the limited amount of time you have to find a position on the J1 visa, it was a really stressful time but I know that I had to make it work. I found my first job through Linkedin, working as a marketing assistant for a market intelligence start-up in midtown Manhattan. It wasn’t what I wanted to do but I was just so happy to start working that I would have done anything! The Irish have long enjoyed very successful careers in the US and I believe that it’s because we know that we have to work harder and smarter than everyone else in the office to be given a chance. You look at some of the biggest brands and agencies in New York and they are being run by Irish ex-pats. Our eagerness to work hard and success is something that really gets recognized here.
Tell us about your career journey so far…
Life in New York is constantly at 100mph and my career journey has been no different! In the last 7 years, I have:
. Established media relations at a Fintech startup that was kind enough to sponsor my visa.
. Worked on the 2014 CLIO Awards, the most celebrated advertising awards in the world, as Marketing Manager for Adweek.com.
.Developed a comprehensive marketing plan and built out the sales team for the largest Irish news site in America, IrishCentral.com – growing the audience from 1 million users to 4 million users a month
. Worked with internationally renowned brands on their marketing, content and activation strategies to hit key Irish-American audiences in the US and globally
Most recently, I joined Adforce.com to manage the US team as the company expands into North America. We launched in the US in 2016 to build a premium mobile ad news network that connects brands and agencies with highly engaged local and community news sites across the US. We are currently at over 700 publishers on our network and growing!
What are your 3 favorite things to do in New York in your spare time?
I really love connecting like-minded people and spend a lot of my spare time working on some of the groups that I run. Currently, my two main projects are NY Digital Irish and EPIC.
Besides that, I have an amazing group of friends here in the city. I love to try out new restaurants and I’m fortunate to have a lot of friends in PR who invite me along to really great events!
Digital Irish was started 4 years ago by a handful of digital entrepreneurs to help Irish startups who are looking to expand in the US by facilitating introductions to Irish expats in their target market. We would see Irish startups struggle to get meetings with potential customers in NY so Digital Irish was born to help connect our members with these great companies through our bi-monthly events. We are over 2,000 members now from companies like HBO, L’Oreal, Adroll, Google, Twitter, Hearst, Carat, Facebook, CNN etc. Anyone can join Digital Irish by submitting their information online – http://digital.irish/new-york/events/
EPIC (Empowered Professional Irish Collective) was founded 2 years ago by myself and my two friends Nicola Parish and Aisling McDonagh. We found that we were always meeting amazing Irish and Irish-American women working in our industries that weren’t connected to one another. We started to do small wine nights in our apartments to invite other women in the Advertising/Marketing industry and this quickly grew! We are now over 150+ amazing women from all creative industries like fashion/creative design/ marketing/ advertising and PR. Please reach out if anyone would like to join EPIC. This group is specifically for women in mid-senior level positions but we frequently host events for J1 graduates. It’s been so inspiring to be involved in these groups and I’m really looking forward to continuing with our growth over the years.
Besides that, I have an amazing group of friends here in the city. I love to try out new restaurants and I’m fortunate to have a lot of friends in PR who invite me along to really great events! There’s never a shortage of things to do in NYC!
Any words of advice to young graduates thinking of making the move to New York to gain work experience?
Irish graduates are some of the most intelligent and mature that I have seen during my time here. I’ve been living in NY for nearly 7 years and it’s been incredible to watch some of the grads that I’ve known grow in their careers and be recruited for incredible companies. That being said, the competition here is tough – especially now that visas are becoming more difficult to obtain.
I would recommend that anyone coming over works in Ireland for a year before – build a foundation. That year will look great on your resume and give you confidence for interviews with recruiters. There are loads of networks to join based on your field of work – the Irish Business Organization, Irish International Business Network, the Irish Network of NY, Digital Irish and EPIC. Attend their events, meet with people and learn about their roles and how they have progressed in their careers. Try and simplify your elevator pitch. I meet grads every week and I’ll ask them what they want to do and 9/10 times they’ll respond with an answer like ‘Digital Marketing’ or ‘Social Media’. Be specific! People in this city are really busy so make it easy for them to help you. Instead of saying ‘Digital Marketing’ say ‘I want to work at a boutique digital marketing agency that specializes in luxury clients’. This will make it so much easier for someone to point you in the direction of a relevant person to speak with.