How I Got My Job: Dubliner Caitlin Murphy Chats To STELLAR About Working In The Fashion Industry In NYC
She has a dream job in one of the most fast-paced cities in the world. Caitlin talks to us about her move abroad, standing out in her career and life in The Big Apple.
Occupation: Manager Talent Acquisition at Club Monaco
Location: New York City
Degree: Arts at UCD
Caitlin has a life many of us would envy. Living in one of the liveliest cities in the world, she’s also killing it in her career, working as a talent acquisition manager for a global fashion and lifestyle brand.
But just how glamorous is a life working abroad? We chat to Caitlin about the perks and pitfalls of paving out a career in the city that never sleeps.
What made you want to move abroad?
My mom is originally from New York and she always encouraged me to experience living here once I graduated. I love fashion and knew that NYC was a great place to start a career. It’s certainly not an easy industry to break into and New York is a very hard place to live, so I feel pretty fortunate.
Tell us about your working background and how you got to where you are now?
I actually started off as a manager in training for Abercrombie & Fitch when they were opening the Hollister store in Dundrum. I stayed there for two years and realised that recruitment was the area I wanted to get into.
When I moved to NY, I worked with a company called FourthFLOOR fashion. I was recruiting and placing corporate fashion roles so there was a lot of meeting with designers, product developers, planners etc. I had to learn how to identify design talent based on their portfolios and artwork in order to match them with the right employer. It was a fast paced environment and gave me some invaluable experience.
I had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and creative people in fashion for two years with FourthFLOOR. While I was working there I was approached by Club Monaco to come and work in their headquarters in Chelsea.
Club Monaco is a fashion, lifestyle brand which is growing rapidly globally. They are a part of Ralph Lauren Corporation but they have their own identity. Each store provides a unique customer experience.
What’s your exact role?
I source, identify and interview the best in the business to join the team at Club Monaco. The talent acquisition teams ensures that we have the most talented designers, visual merchants, copywriters, stylists, and managers. It’s challenging and the fashion market is very competitive in New York, but it’s very rewarding.
What does a normal working day look like for you?
The office is very entrepreneurial. The CEO sits with us and is very creative, so things can change direction quickly. I spend a lot of it in meetings with the HR team and interviewing candidates. The headquarters here is really busy and my office is between design and PR so there’s always a lot going on.
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
Probably attracting and screening the candidates, there’s a lot of talent over here. I need to make sure that their work is great and that they’re the right culture fit. I also need to be sure that what we offer is unique so that we can retain the best talent.
I love finding great people and changing their life by placing them in the right job, it’s really rewarding. Being at Club Monaco allows me to really see each step of the design to market week and finally see when everything hits the stores. It’s really exciting to work in an environment that interests me on so many different levels.
How does the work culture in the U.S. differ from at home in Ireland?
Hours tend to be a lot longer and the job market in NY is extremely competitive so people feel a lot of pressure to perform better than their peers. The laws are employer-friendly here and at home they favour the employee much more. You can be fired here with absolutely no warning and without any compensation.
It certainly is! I’m aware that there are loads of other people that would love to step into my role so I need to make sure each day I perform better than the day before.
Any fantastic perks?
Well the discount of course! It’s also a really amazing and fun office environment. We’re always doing fun activities and we get Fridays off all summer.
For the moment, yes I do, but you never really know.
What characteristics do you think are necessary to be a successful businesswoman?
You have to be willing to learn everything you can in the role that you’re in. Even if it isn’t your dream job, there are still a lot of skills you can be developing. You have to have a strong sense of your abilities and a voice but I think success varies to everyone. What might mean success to me, may not to another person. Once you’re passionate about what you’re doing, I believe you’re a successful businesswoman.
What do you think is the reason for your success?
Being Irish is certainly a contributing factor! People in New York love Irish people so it helped me stand out against the competition. The other factor has been my perseverance and sticking it out through difficult periods in my career. There were a lot of times over the last few years that I wanted to quit my job and move home but I forced myself to push through, and I’m thankful that I did.
Any advice for people wanting to pursue a similar career path to you?
I would say don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up. It takes time to figure out what direction you want to go and what company’s right for you.
Would you recommend moving abroad for work?
It depends. There are a lot of great industries in Ireland so in a lot of cases there’s no need. I’d definitely recommend moving abroad for the life experience though. You learn a lot of lessons and it helps you to appreciate all the wonderful aspects of Ireland.
What do you miss most about home?
My Family. I really miss doing everyday things with them. I’m fortunate that my boyfriend and I moved here together so we’ve been a great support system to each other when we didn’t have our family to turn to.
Any hopes for 2016?
Yes! I want to further develop my career, my friendships and keep discovering all the great things that New York has to offer while I’m here.
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