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Student Spotlight: Surviving NYC on an Unpaid Internship

By Lauren Newfield

Hello everyone! My name is Lauren Newfield, and I am a junior studying advertising from Huntington Beach, California. For the past two months, I have been living, studying, and interning in New York City. Before the Newhouse in NYC program started, I was extremely nervous about moving to New York for two reasons: (1) I had no idea how to get around the city, and (2) my internship was unpaid.

I’ll begin by addressing my first fear. After two days of taking Ubers and taxis from 97th Street to the Lower East Side, I had a revelation: I was wasting so much money. Why was I spending $15 to sit in traffic when I could hop on a train for $2.75? I couldn’t think of an answer, so I bought a 30-day subway pass. I also downloaded the Citymapper app, which allows you to find the quickest and cheapest route in the city, although I am happy to say I have been using it less and less since my first week here. Although the subway usually smells bad and can be super-crowded during rush hour, it is really helpful and easy to navigate after the first time.

My unpaid internship was a harder obstacle to overcome. Although I absolutely love interning at Sunshine Sachs, New York City is expensive, and not having a source of income was unrealistic for me. I knew I wanted to work at Sunshine Sachs regardless of whether it was paid or not (the internship was *exactly* what I was looking for!), so I set out to find a second, part-time job. After a week in the city, a family contacted me about babysitting their two month old. When I met with the father, who wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy before I watched his child, he found out I was an advertising major and asked if I was interested in being his marketing assistant for his real estate business. I agreed, and was very excited to leave the meeting with a paid part-time job in the field I’m studying.

Working five days a week and taking five classes has been a lot to manage, and I wouldn’t suggest picking up a second job unless it’s absolutely necessary. I love having the extra spending money, but it’s difficult to prioritize my work, especially because the marketing assistant job often requires me to stay late, work at home, and come in on the weekends. However, my busy schedule during the week makes me appreciate the activities that I do on the weekend that much more—like sharing pizzas for a friend’s birthday at Rubirosa (the vodka sauce pizza is to die for) and trying the French toast at Pardon My French.

Overall, I have been loving my time in New York City. My internship is amazing and the classes I’m taking are super-interesting. Although I’m a little busier than I would like to be, I’m thankful for the extra experience and spending money.

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