5 Things You Need to Survive as an Intern in NYC

by Mia Chiba

Whether this is your first rodeo as an intern or your fifth, nothing is more true than the fact that every successful intern has their select few essentials that help them survive the day. Sprinting from meeting to meeting, project to project, who has time to run home? I remember once as an intern I forgot my 10:30 snack, elongating the hour and a half block until lunch to feel like an eternity. I couldn’t concentrate (my stomach was very vocal at that point). Case in point, here are five things any intern should have in their briefcase, purse, potato sack, or bag of choice.

1. Snacks

We don’t need a study to know that stable blood sugar levels correlate with productivity levels. When our bodies are screaming for food it’s hard to concentrate on the task at hand. While this instinct may have served our ancestors well, a gurgling stomach hardly makes a stellar first impression. Finding the perfect snack is simple by following the three elements; portability, sustainability, and palatability. First, the snack has to be portable, kind of a no-brainer. Lugging a bag of apples to work doesn’t assert a professional statement. Pocket size is ideal; it’s discrete and fits perfectly in your bag. Second, it has to keep your hunger at bay until your next meal while fueling your energy levels with nutrients while not expiring while in your bag. Ice cream, unfortunately, doesn’t make the cut. Nuts, granola, or an apple or orange may do. Thirdly, it has to taste good, especially if you plan on eating it. For example, if granola isn’t your pace perhaps try a protein bar. Side note: snacks that are strongly odorous are highly discouraged in a professional environment (Please leave the tuna packets at home James).

Check out our article on Buying Everyday Essentials in NYC!

2. Unlimited Metro-card (of course)

Another no-brainer, don’t forget your unlimited metro-card as (1) you wouldn’t get to work in the first place and (2) you want to be prepared if the office decides to go on a social outing after hours. As with many offices, most of the social bonding happens outside of the nine to five time frame. This city is brimming with fun activities, all accessible with the swipe of the metro-card. Practically speaking, if you decided to go with a pay per ride option, be sure that it is always filled. Worst case scenario, your co-workers wait for you to refill your card irritated or leave you behind impatient. In New York City, your metro card can be your lifeline. This 10 mil piece of plastic polyester determines your mobility from point A to point B. Never leave without it.

Check out our article on Navigating the Subway System!

3. Portable Phone Charger

Today, communication is more reliant on our phones, particularly in the professional realm. Also, if you’re not familiar with the MTA subway system your phone’s vitality is crucial. I know my first few months in the city, I was glued to Google maps figuring out whether I was going uptown or downtown (even though the routes were clearly marked on the stations). That’s where a portable phone charger comes in handy; it fits in your bag, no outlet required. You can find some on Amazon for as little as $20. With your phone fully charged, never miss another slack message or subway stop because your phone died again.

Check out our article on Apps for Easier NYC Living!

4. Business Cards

In a city of just over eight million individuals, you just might be brushing elbows with CEOs and recruiters on the subway commute. If you don’t have business cards, it’s a product worth investing in. In a pinch, it acts as a sample resume in anticipation of your full resume; like an appetizer before the main course. In addition, you appear well prepared. While there is a chance that you will never hand out a single card, there is also the chance that you might bump into the CEO of your dream company. Even if you are at your dream company, there’s no harm in passing out your information, you never know what kind of opportunities await…

Check out our article on how to dress as professional as your business cards!

5. Book

This one is more of an optional must…always carry a book. Make use of the commute by reading up on the latest marketing trends or get lost in your guilty pleasure novel series. Ensure your book, like everything on this list, is travel sized. You might as well commute with dumbbell weights rather than Tolstoy’s War and Peace, at least they have handles. It could also be a great ice breaker with strangers, sparking some interesting conversations, but of course only if they’re in the mood. Once I stuck up a conversation with a homeless man who frequented our office street corner about Machiavelli’s The Prince. He ended up teaching me a lesson or two about 16th century Florentine politics. Lesson learned, don’t underestimate the power of a book as a topic of conversation with strangers.

If you enjoy reading in coffee shops as much as I do, check out our article on Where to Find NYC’s Best Cup of Coffee!

Your list of survival items may vary, these are merely suggestions. The overarching purpose of these items is to prepare you for the professional world. Interning in the city is hardly a walk in the piazza, but every year thousands of students flock to NYC to gain real world experience in their field. This is your summer to seize your opportunity! What’s one thing you couldn’t live without? Shoot us an email at nycintern@tkc.edu.

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