LIFE IN THE APPLE
It’s that time of year when new college graduates are heading to New York City, entering the work force, and many will be moving away from home for the first time. To all of you newbies, I say “Welcome!” Living in NYC, however, can be overwhelming, even if you’ve been here for several years. Fortunately, so long as you paid attention, that time spent in college should have taught you several life lessons that will make your adjustment period (and the years to come) much easier.
You’ve probably heard that each time you skip class, it’s like throwing money down the toilet – especially if your tuition is sky-high. The same principle applies to work, particularly if you’re starting off as a freelancer rather than having a salaried position.
With so many people vying for the same jobs, there’s a possibility that you’ll have to make ends meet by collecting several freelance positions or commission-based jobs. The freedom is great, but keep in mind that if you’re not working, then you’re not making money. So as tempting as it may be to take a day off whenever you don’t feel like hustling, you need to suck it up and get your work done. (Unless you don’t mind being evicted for not being able to pay your rent.)
Plan your budget.
People seem to become millionaires after several rounds of vodka shots, and have no qualms about buying drinks for everyone at the bar. The result? Tears the next morning, when you realize your checking account is now overdrawn. Plan a monthly and weekly budget and, more importantly, STAY within that budget.
Manage your time.
Most college students have to balance classes, independent study time, work, and their social life. You’re going to have to do the same in NYC, except you won’t be in school, you’ll be living life as a grownup.
Be your own advocate.
Once the college admission process starts in high school, you start to realize that if you don’t advocate for yourself, nobody will. Applying for college is no different than applying for a job; and in New York City, it’s just as competitive. Be a fan of yourself, know your worth, and let those potential employers know why they need to hire you.
No, teachers didn’t make us take notes during class as a form of torture. Note-taking is a skill we all need in order to process and memorize information more efficiently, and it’s something that will earn you a gold star in the workforce. My friend Bekki, who works for a hedge fund and has helped hire and train 22-year-old graduates, always looks to see if they’re taking notes while she’s speaking. Hint: The non-note takers don’t last long in the company.
Socialize with different people.
Most likely, you’re going to have different circles of friends such as your core group, party buddies, co-workers, and random contacts. So hopefully, your time in college prepped you for interacting with more than one clique.
College teaches you to take responsibility for everything, from doing your laundry to completing that 50-page economics report on time. As long as you can keep yourself accountable and take responsibility for managing all areas of your life (which you should’ve learned by now), you’ll be off to a good start.
Communication is important.
Whether it’s a job interview, applying for an apartment, or meeting potential roommates, communication skills are crucial. If you can’t express yourself properly or put together a cohesive thought, nobody is going to take you seriously. All of those oral presentations and boring speech classes you took? They were part of the curriculum for a reason.
Be yourself from the get-go.
One of the best pieces of advice I received before going to college was, “Be yourself from the beginning. That way, every friend you make will love you for who you really are.” That’s precisely what I did and, nearly seven years after college graduation, I still have the same friends I made on the first day of orientation.
When you arrive in NYC, be yourself. This is the real world, and not a short four-year period of your life. You’re in it for the long-haul, and it’s much too draining to waste any time or energy trying to be someone you’re not. With everyone so busy in this city, new friends can be hard to come by. So when you do happen to come across someone you connect with, be genuine from the start and you’ll be surprised what strong, lifelong bonds you’ll create.