What It's Really Like To Intern In New York City
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What It's Really Like To Intern In New York City

Here's what no one tells you about working a 9 to 5 in Midtown Manhattan.

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What It's Really Like To Intern In New York City

In January 2019 I wrote "get an internship in New York" in the goals section of my planner.

This summer, that goal became a reality. When you tell people you intern in the city, everyone will make assumptions that feed into "The Devil Wears Prada" inspired tropes, or they'll take the opposite approach and view the Big Apple through rose-colored glasses. There's a certain allure to working in the city for those who have only experienced it as a tourist. In my experience, working in New York falls somewhere in the middle. The signature garbage smell that permeates the hot summer streets is less than glamorous, but the view of the New York skyline at golden hour on the way home from a long day makes it all worth it.

I worked as a Public Relations intern in Midtown East where I got to delve into agency life and gain insight into the media industry. My internship completely expanded my perception of what it takes to leverage clients as industry leaders in the realm of Travel Public Relations. Whether it's PR, Finance, or Tech, all internships in the city will require you to think on your feet and become a sponge that absorbs all the new information that's thrown at you. Your first week might be foreboding, but once you've successfully navigated public transit and learned the ropes of your job, you'll be walking the streets like you've done this your whole life.

Get ready to become a morning person.

New York is the city that never sleeps and that saying especially rings true for those who work in it. If you want to make it to work on time, you'll need to allot time for traffic and MTA delays which means waking up super early to be prepared for whatever inconveniences the morning rush may bring. Commuting from North Jersey meant I had it easier than some, but I still woke up at 5:30 a.m. every day to leave my house by 6:30 and catch the 6:40 bus.

I used to laugh at the people who would sprint through Port Authority at ungodly hours of the morning, but I soon became one of them when I realized that every minute counts when trying to catch the subway. The same is true when leaving the office. Walking out the door 15 minutes later than usual would make a drastic difference on the commute home.

Every day is an adventure.

Interning for a PR agency meant that my work looked different every day. Even though I routinely tracked client coverage and conducted research, these tasks were never mundane because they involved a multifaceted approach. I'd often be required to scan some of my favorite digital publications and social platforms to find journalists and influencers for just about anything you could think of that fell under the category of lifestyle. The idea that "every day is an adventure" is also true of navigating the city. You'll inevitably end up exploring different streets and subway stations when you need to take an alternate route. Perhaps the most interesting New York adventure is people watching because you'll get to encounter some of the most bizarre characters when taking public transit.

The hustle never stops.

It takes real dedication to work in New York, especially if you end up accepting a full-time offer that requires you to work from 9-5 five days out of the week. I worked alongside ambitious account coordinators and executives who would arrive in the office an hour early and leave an hour late to maximize their workday. When factoring in the time it takes to commute, you'll realize that you put in roughly twelve-hour days considering the time you walk out the door in the morning to the time you arrive back home at the end of the day. As exhausting as that may sound, the hustle is rewarding if you're lucky enough to be pursuing your passion in an exciting environment.

Dress for success.

Every company has its own distinct office culture and dress code so you'll want to "dress the part" no matter where you end up interning. As someone who's never had to buy real work clothes before, shopping for my internship forced me to develop a professional wardrobe. Some of my go-to pieces included printed dress pants, basic black and white shirts, dresses, and sweaters. I definitely took note of what my co-workers were wearing during my first few days so that I could match my outfits to the way they dressed.

As much as I loved planning a good work outfit, I realized that the most important part of your wardrobe should be your bag. Don't bother investing in a handbag because it will become annoying to hold on your commute. Pack a backpack with everything you need so that you'll be able to quickly grab your phone, metro card, and have extra room to fit a jacket or shoes.

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