Imagine all the television shows and books you have consumed about interning (or even working) in New York - have you got all the stereotypes and clichés in mind??? Well my experience so far has been exactly that!
A picture of my desk and brand new Moleskine, on the first day of my internship.
My holiday to New York is technically a working holiday as I chose to take on a couple of internships here - why not right? And I honestly think this is a great decision for any Uni graduate or even student looking to expand his/her portfolio. Its an easy way to add experience as well as explore the industry that you want to work in - and see it as a bonus that it’s in a completely different country/city/continent. Of course this would only apply to select industries, but with a lot of research you should be able to find out what works for you and what doesn’t.
I managed to score myself a couple of internships, one with a Music PR company and the other with Portable. I am happy to report that after the first month I am very happy with both. Surprisingly I wasn’t as nervous or daunted as I should be, but I think that’s down to knowing that there was nothing to lose with this experience – only to gain.
So I decided that anyone who happens upon this blog post is probably a) not American and b) curious to know how internships work here in the Big Apple.
Hours: 10 - 6pm - which is a slight change from the regular 9-5 that we Aussies are used to. And for some reason the 10am start seems to be a loose guide for many, even the interns. But if I had anything to say on this matter – don’t fall into that habit. If you're starting at 10 - get there at least five minutes before.. trust me the company will notice. But the 6pm finish is definitely a loose guide. Don't leave until your supervisor and their immediate colleagues have literally nothing else for you to do. Again, they will notice.
Supervisors/Seniors: I have noticed that with most public relations company in New York assign interns to a specific publicist. So when you get here you will be assigned to one person (maybe a team of publicists) and you will assist them in the day to day business. This is great. Cause its structure, you know exactly who to ask for tasks and who to build a relationship with for future gains…. If you know what I mean.
Dress Code: Luckily, I work for companies that are within the creative industries, so although its a professional business environment, I have been able to get away with smart casual or street chic (haha!) if you will. My rule is if you don't mind answering the door to you potential mentor/career idol in what you're wearing then you're good to go. In saying that I have noticed that many interns here in NYC wear pretty casual clothes to internships (think singlet, shorts, flip flops and not in a sports luxe kind of way). Again, don’t fall into the habit. The way I see it is that you should maintain your own professional dress standards, don’t stoop down to others. #preach
Work Environment/Other Interns: This is where the clichés begin. Its competitive, its full on and within a click of a finger you should be able to complete/answer whatever you have been asked to do. And I mean literally from a click or a nod. Hopefully you will luck out and like myself get a great group of other interns to bandy together with. The other interns are a source of comfort, a group of people you can go to for help and tips or just even a shoulder to cry on. Make friends with these people.
Tasks: Bring to the forefront again all the clichés about internships. Yes, you will be asked to go get coffee, you will be asked to photocopy… and you might even be asked to go get doggy diapers. This is New York City after all. But among those tasks you will get to learn and complete some pretty incredible things. Looking specifically at PR/Marketing, you will get to learn how a US company works in terms of media targets, contacting media, writing releases and how they handle the talent. One of the biggest distinctions between my experience in Brisbane versus my experience in NYC is budget. People actually have a realistic (sometime huge) budget for the legitimate services PR & Marketing can provide. I have been exposed to people and jobs that I could have only dream about working with back in Brisbane. Here these people (sometimes famous) and campaigns are a reality! But no matter the task, do it efficiently and do it with a smile! And plus, all those crazy intern jobs make for great stories and anecdotes to bring back home :)
Costs: Now, you would think there wouldn’t be any costs in being an intern right? Hm… think again. Nothing major – just a Metrocard. Basically a card that you use to work the public transport system. Which you should already have anyway to get around NY (it’s the best!) Obviously this comes in handy when you’re running all your fabulous errands. You might at times find it easier (on yourself) to catch a cab when running errands – try to get this compensated by the accounts department… trust me you don’t want to be shelling $10 everytime you need to run to the post office or Starbucks.
• Smartphone – one with working internet for Google Maps (it has been a lifesaver).
• Sensible shoes – I’m not even going to pretend that I wear heels in NYC. No one does; Sexy & The City lied.
• Notebook & Pen
• Coffee Coffee Coffee
• Positive Attitude.
Like I said, I have been loving living and working here in NYC. I might be jumping the gun, but this will honestly shape the rest of my professional career. So like I said, if you have been thinking about it or have the opportunity to do it – JUST DO IT.
Hoping to write a few more in this series, so keep a look out. I would also absolutely appreciate it if you would share this post with anyone else you know who would benefit from the info. Sharing is caring. And listen, I am also open to answer any specific or further questions you might have about working/interning in PR both in Australia and in NYC. So hit me up (Facebook or my email is listed on the side).
Hope you enjoyed, leave me your thoughts below.
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Image Sources can be found from my Pinterest here.