Just typing the words “Work in New York City” still gives me butterflies.
Nobody leaves Kentucky. And if you do, you go south to Tennessee. The goal of working in NYC was one only dreamers would wish for. I was twenty years old when I decided I was going to take a leap of faith and apply for the Dream Careers Internship Program. I lived on cereal and granola bars and kept the Starbucks coffee and Sonic Route 44’s at a record low while I saved as much money as humanly possible while balancing school and work. One year later, I’m on a plane to the biggest city in the nation.
Although the phrase, “Good comes to those who wait,” is well known, it has never been a quote I live by. I’ve always been the type of person who dreams and then wants it right now. So it wasn’t a surprise when I was looking for internships across the country my first year of college. But every phone call ended in, “You don’t live in New York?” or “Can you fly in for an interview?” You must be joking right? After searching and searching to no avail, I happened to stumble upon a website called summerinternships.com my sophomore year. I did all of my research but I had never known anyone to participate in the Dream Careers Program, so I was leery of it being legitimate. This program allows you to choose from a list of cities in the world (not limited to the US) that you can live and work in during the spring, summer, or fall. They provide your housing, transportation, guarantee an internship, and weekend activities to help you get accustomed to the city. It sounded too good to be true. So when I finally arrived in Manhattan summer of 2016, nothing could have comforted me more when I was greeted by the most cheerful staff you could have imagined. In the pouring rain, they helped grab my bags, get signed in, and guided me to my room.
This was only the beginning.
It wasn’t much longer that my random roommate walked in with her family, and greeted me with a hug. Not a handshake, not an awkward smile. A hug. How often is that heard of in New York City? From that moment on, we were inseparable throughout the summer. We kept saying, “If Dream Careers doesn’t do anything right this summer, at least they know how to pair roommates!” But let me tell ya, Dream Careers did a lot more than just succeed with pairing roommates. My heart will forever belong to this beautiful city because of the people I met, friendships I made, food I tasted, and experiences that engrained themselves into my memory. My resume is bursting at the seams with experience and things to talk about in interviews. I have business cards and a headshot, networking how-to’s and so much more that will extensively impact my future on the job market.
To set the stage, imagine a room with exposed brick, a full length window facing the road, and a perfect view of the Empire State Building. The room is full of clothes, shoes, and jewelry, and the bluetooth player is constantly pulsating Drake and Rihanna. Envision what you see in the movies, and that is where I worked.
At Red Light PR, our job as a company was to find and pitch influencers (i.e. 25K+ followers on Instagram, talk show hosts, celebrity stylists, editors of magazines) to come into our showroom, pick out outfits, and wear our clothing brands. When those influencers wear those brands and are seen by the public, it is thought that those who see them will be motivated to buy and wear clothes that look the same. Essentially, people want to be like their role models. Therefore, brand awareness is heightened and more people are buying those styles – Fashion PR in a nutshell.
An everyday schedule for the interns included:
- Crawling the web for paparazzi pictures of celebrities wearing our brands
- Organizing the showroom
- Helping stylists find outfits for clients
- Contacting and pitching bloggers, editors, and freelancers
- Gifting celebrities, models, etc. with accessories and clothing
As interns, our work day was 10am-6pm Monday – Thursday. On Fridays, a lot of New York businesses implement what is called Summer Fridays, and either close their business for a 3 day weekend, or have limited hours on Fridays (hint, hint Nashville and Kentucky job markets). It just depends on what kind of business you work for. As a public relations firm, we still worked on Fridays but would usually get out early depending on the appointments we had scheduled and work we needed to finish. Overall, I got to meet so many amazing people and dip my toes into the big city world of Public Relations, and compare it to everything I’ve learned in Kentucky.
Learning the Real World
The Dream Careers program does not lead you to an internship and just let you go fend for yourself. So much more was involved during this summer that prepared me for after college, and is above all the biggest reason I would recommend rising college juniors and seniors to take part in such an amazing program. On the first full day of the program, we were gathered together to have an opening ceremony that included introductions, tips for how to be the best intern, and directions to our work complete with a practice trip there and back. (Subway: 1 Kaitlyn: 0)
Work started the next day, and then every Wednesday night after work we would have a seminar that included a guest speaker, or a LinkedIn workshop to learn how to better our professional profile. All of this prepared us for a networking event at the end of the summer with professionals from all kinds of fields of work. We had professional head shots made and direct answers to interview questions, and so much more. We were pushed out of our comfort zone in these two months to have informational interviews over coffee with CEO’s of companies and experts in our fields that we wanted to model after. Our progression towards our dream jobs didn’t begin and end with our internships, but went further so that we would not only have the experience on our resume, but would also have the confidence in knowing that once we have scored an interview, we would know before we walked in the door that we had the job.
On top of the career benefits this program is giving you, the staff knows you didn’t come to the city to work and go home. From the perspective of those who are more familiar with the city, an event is planned every weekend that allows you to experience things you probably would not have otherwise. Everything from a Yankees baseball game to festivals, to a weekend trip to Washington DC. Every Thursday was deemed Dessert Thursday, and all of the greatest sugar masterpieces were tried and loved by us all. If there was anything else we wanted to explore with the company of staff (who all in all became our friends as well), it was a simple text or walk down the hall to suggest the next adventure.
These two months of pure bliss was more than a dreamer could ever hope for. So for all of you reading that are looking for your next adventure, consider this program. Dream big, and take those steps towards finding your dream career.
Learn more at the Dream Careers website: www.summerinternships.com
For more information about New York and my favorite places to go, see my upcoming blog: Things To Do and See in NYC