By Katie Burke
New York is a vast landscape of opportunity for dreamers but can feel like a different world, especially compared to the places we call home in Ireland. One person who was brave enough to make the move from Cork to New York is Ruth Walsh, who works in PR and social media, all while running her own blog, RuthyRuby.com. “Essentially working in PR means you are the middle-man between a brand and its audience/ customer so in some form you are crafting a narrative to that audience every day…It’s a client focused role and there is a huge focus on communication and writing”. For anyone with an interest in pursuing a career in this industry, Ruth’s advice is “you need to be sharp and a social media addict. Be curious and confident in your thoughts and start a private blog or journal to get all your ideas out of your head”.
However, finding her niche in the PR industry wasn’t plain sailing. Initially starting out as a fashion design student at St. Johns, Ruth soon discovered that that area of creativity wasn’t for her and dropped out. “I got a really bad result in my leaving cert which, if I think about, was the best thing that could have happened… There was a lot of panic and depression throughout those years of scrambling and thinking about what to do. I didn’t take the easy option, which is very my style. I always have to learn the hard way”. Ruth’s wise words remind us we can all do ‘the done thing’ but if we are not fulfilled, then what is the point?
Eventually Ruth found her way to the world of PR and journalism – “I did some research and found a Journalism degree course in Griffith College Cork, so I did that and then went on to study a masters in PR”. After her time at college it was time to delve into the industry and Ruth found her feet in her native Cork. “After my masters I worked as a project manager for a creative agency in Cork called Chapter. Deirdre, the founder, really believed in me and took me under her wing and showed me the ropes”. From there on, Ruth was offered a PR internship in Dublin with L’Oréal for a year long contract. It was when that internship was nearing its close that New York beckoned. Talking about the decision Ruth said, “I needed something more than what Ireland was offering me at the time. I was at the end of a work contract and there was a lot of change going on in my life. I decided to just bite the bullet and avail of the J-1 Graduate Visa while I had the opportunity. It’s something I think every graduate should consider. Such a great opportunity to dip your toes in our field and get a feel for how the industry works in different countries”.
Ruth continued her risk-taking and sense of adventure in New York when it came to finding jobs in PR. “In New York I got a PR role with a boutique firm in Manhattan that ultimately didn’t work out. I thought the job was going to be much more creative and so I left. Another bold move but I really am not a good person for staying in situations that are bringing me no stimulation”. And what advice would she give anyone contemplating a move to New York? For Ruth, it’s to just go for it. “If you think about it for too long you won’t go. The second thing I’d say it save your bobs and try get a loan from your bank/ credit union. You need a good buffer of cash for when you move over. Make sure you reach out to people you know in the city you’re moving to. Everyone wants to help you out. It’s a great feeling”. Considering the size difference between New York and Ireland, the idea of delving into such a large pool of professionals can seem terrifying. When asked if there was a sizeable difference between the process of getting a PR job in New York and Ireland Ruth said, “It’s the same process over here but it’s about one million more times aggressive. You need a thick skin and you need to leave your expectations of getting a job easy at the door. I can’t even tell you how many phone interviews and meet-ups I did…Just trust that you will find something and enjoy the process”.
In New York, Ruth worked for fellow Irish influencer Tara Marzuki, better known as TarMarz, as her creative assistant. But apart from her work life, has New York, known for its fashionable residents, influenced her personal style? “New York has made me fall in love with Doc Martens and slip dresses. It has made me realise that sexy is everywhere and you can be sexy and attractive is so many ways. I have really ran with my 90’s vibe since moving…I feel really comfortable in that grunge/chic look”. For Ruth, she has always followed her own sense of style and has never allowed her surroundings in the fashion or beauty industry to change who she is too much. “I have always bopped to my own beat. Even from a baby my mum said I was just doing my own thing and that carried through school where I would rebel with my uniform etc…I really work off my own bubble and imagination and so working in the industry means a lot of trend following. It’s easy to follow trends and recreate but for my personal take on fashion and beauty, I just take inspiration from anything and everything”.
Some people say the anonymity of New York makes them feel more capable of taking greater style risks as there is less risk of judgement or someone you know seeing you, and this is something Ruth can attest to – “New York has ignited a confidence in me to just go for it. It’s so diverse over here that you really can just be what you want and wear what you want. It’s incredible. I’ve never felt a vibe like it”. Ruth’s social media is full of photos of her stunning makeup looks, with her signature look being a cat-eye liner flick, lots of mascara, fresh dewy skin, and pouty pink lips. Similar to fashion, inspiration is everywhere for Ruth and this does not necessarily mean simply following whatever the current beauty trends are. “My biggest beauty influences are most of the people I follow on Instagram. I take a lot of inspiration from my friends and how they style themselves. I’m fascinated by the process of making yourself look good. It’s so empowering”.
Now Ruth is taking another risk and has left New York to start life elsewhere but plans to stay working in PR – “I still want to stay in PR but something more social media focused. The reason I wanted to study and work in PR was because I wanted to work on big marketing campaigns so I’m going to try refine all that down and make something of the dream”. So, if you’ve ever fantasised about upping sticks to New York, then Ruth’s blog and social media are for you. While showing you the day to day life in the dream location, Ruth also gives an insight into the realities – the highs, the lows, and the worries, while remaining her down to earth self. From the lessons we can learn from her journey to finding her dream career, embracing confidence in her own style, her career aspirations and simply being brave – there is no doubt that Ruth is a Cork native who is going places.