Last I wrote I was still an undergraduate student, who, depending on your particular definition of the word, “plan,” had zero post-graduation plans except to fill my family’s car with my dearest possessions and transport myself to New York City, where I had nada lined up. My mother was not exactly thrilled with what she described as my inspiration to “run off into the sunset,” with no job, professional connections, or significant savings to speak of. As December graduation loomed closer and the regret of a potentially worthless major (on the job front, anyway) began to weigh in on my optimism, a mortal goddess dropped a sign from the heavens right into my Gmail. The Department of Communications at the Museum of Modern Art in New York was replying to an internship application I had sent months ago, and just like that I comfortably slid from one life track to another, from “floundering college kid who didn’t know enough about life when she chose her major,” to, “motivated young intern who is moving towards a promising career in the arts.” Unfortunately so far this career has proven to be financially unfruitful, but that’s a minor detail that I will conveniently ignore while I am young and with limited responsibilities.
When I imagined my life in New York, I unintentionally imagined myself to be a little more glamorous and street savvy, and somewhere along the way I imagined I would acquire a stellar wardrobe. Two weeks into it and I can safely say that I am more or less the same person I was two weeks ago, but maybe a little better at navigating the subway and excel spreadsheets. Living in Jersey and commuting into the city have taught me a few things, nuggets of wisdom that I believe may be helpful to know for anyone else who may find him or herself in a new city following graduation. So here goes.
1. Money and time are similar in that while you try to savor and save every dollar and every minute, they inevitably vanish at an unthinkable rate. My advice is to attempt to manage both your money and time wisely, but as long as you’re not living in the poor house or shaving during your commute in order to use your time more efficiently, it’s utterly unproductive to sweat the ongoing depletion of either resource.
2. If feasible and you haven’t done so already, invest in a smart phone. I’m a converted luddite who is using my Blackberry in order to write this very entry, and I assure you that if having a GPS doesn’t save you on a weekly basis then being able to check for last-minute emails will.
3. Dressing like you’ve got all the money in the world isn’t always a good idea. I appreciate a Dooney & Bourke handbag and Burberry scarf as much as the next suburban girl, but if you own any such articles of clothing and ever find yourself in a neighborhood that makes you uneasy, you will be relieved to have left your designer duds at home so as to not stick out too much.
4. Be real. Perpetually acting like you’re a bigger deal than the person next to you might occasionally score you a free drink or job interview, but the more you do it the more you are creating a facade that people are likely to see through. Your new coworkers couldn’t care less what your parents do or what school you went to, and if you act like either matter all that much then your budding career and circle of friends are going to drop you like whoa. Do yourself and everyone else a favor by being sincere.
I think that covers my bases for now. I am sure as I further adapt to my new surroundings more lessons will come, but I will keep them to myself as to leave plenty of surprises for the next fresh graduates who decide to chase a dream. I wish them all good luck.