25 Tips on Interning in NYC

through Rex Coffee's window.

through Rex Coffee's window.

It has officially been one month since I moved to NYC and man, what a journey. I have learned so much and wanted to share a few great tips/advice that I have used that have helped tremendously. I hope you will benefit from some of these as well!

1. First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the subway system.

Use your best friend (aka iPhone/smart phone) and all of its amazing features to the fullest. For one, you don’t look as touristy leaning over people on the subway to look at the map and the apps listed below give you the best and quickest routes with time frames!

Favorite Subway Apps: 

  • Embark NYC
  • HopStop
  • Google Maps (Transit) - more accurate timing than HopStop

2. Check the direction on the train.

Although I feel like we all have to get on the subway going the wrong direction once as a little initiation, make sure you look at the signs above the tracks to see if it’s going downtown or uptown. It’s an obvious task, but it’s really easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.

3. Wherever you're going, leave a few minutes early.

Trains get delayed, people hold doors (we all do it), and who knows what the weather is going to be like.

4. Never leave home without your phone charger.

Obviously you’re going to be on it all day listening to music, using the subway map and all social media apps, so it's critical.

5. ALWAYS bring a pair of flats to accompany your pumps.

Blisters are not cute and you better believe that you'll walk at least 2 miles total each day.

6. A big tote bag is an essential.

I mean, with everything we have to carry, this is a given. But try not to hit people with it on the subway....it's obnoxious.

7. Never look up. Tourists do that.

Just kidding, but really don’t be “that” guy.

8. Bring cash.

I definitely have received my fair share of “ATM Charges” considering half of the restaurants I’ve been to are cash only....so just have cash.

9. Check the forecast and bring an umbrella/rain boots.

NYC summers are known for off and on rain. Yes, I know, "ugh, it’s another item in my bag." But hey, if it keeps me from looking like a wet dog, I’m okay with it.

10. Hold on to your metro card like it’s your most prized possession.

Even if it’s empty, these gems are $1 to replace. An extra dollar can go a LONG way here. Like, a slice of pizza (my dinner 3x a week). Also, if you lose an unlimited metro card, call 511 and file a claim to get your money back, only if you purchased it with a credit/debit card. You will be on hold for a while. (Just saying.)

11. Don’t get your iced coffee until AFTER your morning commute.

Unless you are perfectly stable human being without holding onto any hand rails on the overcrowded weekday trains. Especially the 8th Ave. L train at rush hour. Sigh.

12. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to people who look like locals.

Contrary to the stereotype, I have never come across someone who has refused to help me or given me the wrong directions. They may not sugar coat it, but it gets the job done…P.S. use your best judgement here, people.

13. Don’t fall asleep on the subway.

Honestly, nobody has time for that. And it's really embarrassing.

14. What you put into this experience is what you’re going to get out of it.

We all come here to work, but that shouldn’t be your only focus! Get out and meet people and don’t be afraid to attend events alone. Find a group of friends and do weekly dinners. These summers are meant to change our lives. Let them!

15. Utilize social networks to scope out restaurants and best places to eat.

Exploring a new restaurant or bar every day is the best part about NYC. Use Foursquare and Yelp to see what the best places around you are and look up reviews from the locals. If you’re an extrovert like myself, ask people in your neighborhood what their favorite places to eat are, it’s always an adventure!

At your work place:

16. If someone asks you to do something, write it down in front of them.

Attention to detail is key and your coworkers will be impressed with your accuracy when you complete the task. 

17. Always have informative, relevant questions on hand when you go to lunch & learns.

Research before the session and come with questions that are directed to your speaker. People love to talk about their experiences, so give them a reason to. 

18. Network within your work place.

Your colleagues have had experience at many other places that may be beneficial to you. It's great to ask what else they have done in their careers.

19. Ask if you can sit in on any work meetings that align with your interests.

If it’s a small staff or team meeting, ask if you can sit in the back. You’d be amazed at how much insight you can gain from one meeting.

20. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other organizations for informational interviews.

If you're graduating within the next semester, take advantage of all the companies you aspire to work at post-grad. But, be reasonable and don't expect everyone to return your call/email. 

21. Be the first one in and always ask if there is anything else you can do before you head home.

 

Although some internships may be more demanding than others, I believe that interns should put in the time that they were asked to work, finish that project and head home at their designated hour. Stand out through your initiatives, projects and eagerness, not by 'who can stay the latest.' Get there a few minutes early and leave at the end of the work day, whatever your hours may be. Most of the time, you won't receive that "pat on the back" you're looking for, so as long as you ask if you completed everything for the day, I think it's perfectly fine to leave on time.

22. No project is too big or too small.

Even errands are beneficial to someone and that’s what you’re there to do, to help. Personally, I love when I get to run errands around the city, it’s just another chance for me to explore!

23. Work together with other interns, instead of in competition.

Although you are probably looking for the same job or opportunity, reality is, one of you may end up going in a different direction in the long run. Their success doesn’t mean your failure, so if you work together, you know what they say, “two heads are always better than one.”

 

24. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand a task.

If you've really utilized all resources given to you and Google of course, reach out to your boss for clarification. Make sure you have looked through all past documentation, though. 

25. Be open with your bosses and supervisors.

Tell them where your interests lie, where you see yourself within the next year and of course how thankful you are for the opportunity they are giving you. Regardless if you are looking at that company for future employment or not, these experiences are amazing stepping-stones in your career path that will eventually help you land your dream job!

Big thanks to a few fellow NYC interns who contributed some of these great tips: Nicole Swickle, Kurtis Lee, Brad Stoll, Sam Schmidt, Ally Hanskutt, Brian Liachowitz, Julia Trieschmann, Marco Cavadini and Hannah Connolly.

If you have any other experiences you'd like to share, please let me know. At the end of the summer, I hope to have a great compiled list to send to any future interns!

To see more from my summer in the city blog, click HERE.