I Commuted A Total Of 25 Hours Each Week Over The Summer For An Internship

I Commuted A Total Of 25 Hours Each Week Over The Summer For An Internship

Spoiler alert: I knew the best things in life are worth fighting for... and I want to do it all over again.
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It was a Wednesday night at around 9:15 p.m. when I started throwing my belongings into my black sack of a bag and threw my hair up into a ponytail after a long day of working my hardest to keep up with the people around me.

One of my coworkers looked at me with fatigue in his eyes and said, "Wow, I can't wait to go home," and of course, with agreeance, I couldn't relate more. He then asked me where my home was in a sense of small talk.

"Brick, New Jersey," I said. "Do you know where that is? It's right by Point Pleasant or Seaside Heights... you know, the shore."

He had a complete puzzled look on his face like he couldn't quite figure out not where I was from, but why I was here. With a tilt of his head, he asked me how long it would take me to get home.

"Well, if I can make this 10:05 p.m. train at Penn, I'll be home around 1 a.m.," I said.

And that's when everyone left on the floor looked at me in complete confusion. I could already read what was going through their minds: what is this 20-year-old girl doing traveling 3 hours at night by herself for an internship.

Let me explain it to you.

From the age of 13, I knew I wanted to be a journalist.

I wanted to do something bigger with my life than sit in an office crunching numbers and I never had the stomach for becoming anything in the medical industry. I wanted to become a voice for the voiceless ever since I started watching the news.

To make a long story short, last year I applied for an internship in New York City at CNN and although I knew it would be a hike and a half, I also knew that it was something I could never turn down.

I'll never forget the moment I read the email that said I was accepted. I think I cried for an hour before finally calling my incredibly supportive parents to tell them the news: I would be working for my absolute favorite broadcast news company.

When I came back from my school that summer, I prepared myself for what I knew would be an intensely long, but completely fulfilling summer. I bought a whole new wardrobe, perfect for NYC summer weather and sophisticated for the office. I purchased my NJ Transit train tickets in advance and had a few extra bucks to reload my MetroCard for the distance between Penn Station and Columbus Square. And most importantly? I bought the biggest bag of coffee I could find and a travel mug big enough for at least two cups and some cream. I was ready.

My days looked like this:

7:30 a.m.: My alarm would ring and I would start getting ready for my day, packing a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, made my hefty cup of coffee.

8:30 a.m.: Catch the 8:30 train that never quite ran on schedule, always coming anytime between 8:25 to 8:45, so you can bet I was always there beforehand unless I would take the 9:25 and risk running late for work.

9:30 a.m.: Make my layover train in Long Branch, which would take me to Penn Station.

11:30 a.m.: Sometimes 12 p.m., I would arrive at Penn Station where I would either decide to walk from 35th to 59th (if it was closer to 11:30, not 12 because it's quite a stretch) or catch the Subway heading uptown.

12:45 p.m.: After either trek, I would finally make it to the Time Warner building that housed CNN and head up to my floor, getting my ID checked once and swiping it three times before finally making it to my desk.

1 p.m. to 8 p.m.: I worked on anything and everything they asked of me. It was honestly the best part of the job because I was able to interact and learn from so many different people. Because of this, I learned that my future job aspiration would not be reporting, but production.

8 p.m.: I would head down to set where I was the mug girl. You guessed it, those mugs sitting in front of the news hosts? They were set there by interns. For the show I was working for, that intern was me. For the rest of the hour, I would run scripts, get mic sets, and once again, do anything asked of me.

9 p.m.: Head back up to the office and start packing up.

10:05 p.m.: Catch the train heading back to "Shore Points."

12:05 a.m.: Take the layover to get to the train that would take me home.

1 a.m.: Get off the train and jump into my car that would take me home.

1:15 a.m.: Finally get home, take a shower, and get to sleep. Set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. and do it all over again.

I was getting roughly 6 hours of sleep a night unless, by some magical power, I would get to come home earlier the night prior and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep. It was taxing. Waking up started getting very difficult towards the end and I could feel myself getting colds more frequently, but I refused to give it up for anything.

I commuted roughly 25 hours each week, which consisted of me on a train either watching download TV shows on Netflix from my tablet ("Bloodline" was often my show of choice) or read books. I plowed through 14 novels that summer and filled such a mundane time with stories of adventure, love, and sometimes murder.

So what was I, this 20-year-old girl, traveling by herself at night for? Well, I was living my dream.

I would walk home to the sight of bright lights. I would skim past Times Square and would sometimes catch views of castmates side-dooring after their Broadway shows. I would be among the many other bustling New York workers: something I always longed for.

One of my favorite parts of the whole experience was the morning trains. The train cars would consist of a hundred middle-aged men, slumped in their seats reading the morning paper or resting their eyes with headphones in their ears. And me. This little, young adult lady who was thriving at the thought of making it among the big dogs.

The conductors began to know me and would always make sure I was in the safest, quietest car after a long day of work. A fight in car 3? Well, car 5 only has 3 people so I should go there. A baby crying in car 7? Well, car 1 only has a young couple sleeping at the very back. They looked out for me and I will never forget that camaraderie.

That summer was not conventional. I didn't lay on the beach all day and I barely saw any friends. I was constantly exhausted and there were times that I wanted nothing more than to sleep in on a rainy morning and spend the day watching movies from the comfort of my bed.

But I knew my dreams called not from the comfort of my sheets, but in the streets of the big city.

I commuted a total of 25 hours each week over the summer for an internship at CNN in Manhattan, and I want to do it all over again.

Cover Image Credit: Eutah Mizushima

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.

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Seniors,

I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

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