University of Limerick business grad takes on Austin

Rachel Gleeson’s foray into the J-1 visa world brought her to the city of Austin, Texas, an up-and-coming tech and business hub where many applicants from Rian are now choosing to venture. Rachel shared with us that her visa experience was smooth, with a straightforward application process, and that she received excellent support from Rian ahead of her travel, including answering her questions promptly and connecting her with other J-1 graduates heading to Austin.

When she applied for her visa, Rachel aimed to broaden her professional skills, gain international experience, and expand her network. Her goal was to apply these experiences to her future career in business and human resources. As the Head of Customer Success at Klimt & Design, an organization founded by fellow Rian J-1 visa alum Hugh Gibbons, she found her internship incredibly rewarding. The variety in her tasks and the freedom to use her initiative made the experience fulfilling. Supportive colleagues and the company's emphasis on work-life balance added to her positive experience.


In Austin, Rachel’s day-to-day life was diverse and fulfilling. After work, she'd hit the gym, meet friends for food and drinks, or simply unwind. Weekends were filled with outdoor activities like hiking, paddleboarding, and exploring new restaurants. Austin's vibrant nightlife was also a highlight. She described Austin as a fantastic city for young professionals, with friendly people, a diverse food scene, and a vibrant music culture. There was always something to do, whether it was outdoor activities, exploring food trucks, or enjoying live music. One standout memory was attending Austin City Limits (ACL), a music festival in Austin. It was an incredible experience, made even more special when one of Rachel’s friends from Ireland traveled over to attend it with her.

Her advice to future J-1 visa holders is to start looking for jobs in advance, use LinkedIn to make connections, say yes to every opportunity, and make the most of your time, as it flies by. She emphasized the exceptional support from Rian, encouraging other J-1 visa participants to utilize their support on anything from the application process to their time in the US. Their assistance was invaluable throughout her journey.

Reflecting on her time in the US, Rachel noted that she had gained valuable skills and insights that she planned to apply to her professional life in Ireland. Personally, she had developed lifelong friendships and improved her cultural awareness. As she plans to visit more cities in the US before returning to Ireland, she's excited to see how her experiences will continue to shape her, both personally and professionally.