Hot Tips for Your Summer Internship Lifestyle

Summer internship season is nearly upon us, and for young “professionals,” this means living out of a suitcase, crashing on someone’s couch, and navigating a huge and terrible city where you know no one…at least for a little bit.

The “jobs” don’t come to you, so you gotta go to the “jobs.” This is how you live in the big city for work and no profit.

1. Pack judiciously. Bring unwrinkleable work clothes (knits are best, but if you roll your wovens/silks they won’t get too awful looking), not too many pairs of shoes (3 is plenty), and extra underwear. Don’t forget things like deodorant. Put the things you’ll need most immediately on top of your duffel bag so you’re not scrambling around like an idiot. When your clothes start looking mashed and crumpled from your lack of dresser or closet, start taking very hot showers with your blouses and pencil skirts hung up as close as possible to the showerhead without getting them actually wet. You won’t look great, but you’ll look less awful.

2. Budget, somehow. Figure out how little you can spend per day, multiply by seven, and withdraw that much cash to get you through the week. Without a kitchen to call your own, you’ll probably have to eat most meals out. Accept this as fact and move on. You will die if you don’t eat! Try a different bodega every day on your way to work and keep a mental tally of which sells the biggest, cheapest coffee. Invest in easily-prepared snax like baby carrots, fruit, hard-cooked eggs, et cetera, for your office fridge. Avoid vintage knickknacks or artisanal honey when you’re out on the town.

3. Learn your new subway system. If your monthly commuting costs put you within spitting distance of the price of the unlimited pass, pony up and get one. When you don’t have to nickel-and-dime your gadding-about, that Metrocard will be your golden ticket for going places other than work and your couch-bed (which don’t have to cost $$, either: parks and libraries are free, entertaining, and a blessed reprieve from the non-wage slavery that is your workday).

4. Stop looking at your phone. You can navigate by looking at the actual street signs too, you know? And you don’t need a compass. Rises in the east, sets in the west. Triangulate accordingly. Or get lost, which can be equally appealing (within reason).

5. Accept any and all invitations. Co-workers going out to lunch or roommates hitting up happy hour are ways to get to know people AND places. Go to professional networking events, even if it’s only for the cheese. For the truly adventurous, seek out (or organize!) meetups. Your life is now a giant improv class and you are going to yes-and it to death.

6. Thank your hosts, whoever they are. Keeping whatever space you’re squatting in tidy is a given, but little gestures like springing for a six-pack, Trader Joe’s flowers, or both, will do a lot to chip away at the resentment that tends to build up when someone’s hogging your living room for six weeks. Even if you’re paying them. Even you’re paying them and telling them jokes.

 

Blair Thornburgh lives in Philadelphia. 

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27 Comments / Post A Comment

sea ermine (#122)

Is this the place to share how sad I am that my sister got accepted to an internship in DC and not in NYC, where I live? And I mean, she likes DC wayyyyyyy better than NYC but I was so excited for her to come live with me and we would do fun sister activities and I would bake her special deserts that work with her allergies and take her out to dinner and show her around the city and it was going to be wonderful.

@seaermine This won’t make you feel any better, but given the choice, if I were your sister I’d take living with you in NYC over DC at gunpoint. (Yes, I have lived in DC, it was not for me.)

sea ermine (#122)

@KathleenD@twitter Aw thanks. She loves DC but hates NYC. However, she is the kind of person who hates places when they are new (especially big cities) and then a year or so later adores them and nevereverever wants to leave. So I think going to DC, which she is used to, might be better for her. Even though DC doesn’t come with a sister who was very excited to hang out with her : (

Guess I’ll be taking a megabus to DC for a few weekends.

Markovaa (#1,509)

@seaermine I hear you. My sister decided to go to her number 1 choice school not in new york instead of other school in new york. So good for the sister and sad for me.

“Your life is now a giant improv class and you are going to yes-and it to death.”

This applies to not only to your internship, but to your entire professional life for the next 50+ years.

CL (#3,590)

Don’t spend your $10,000 finance internship salary on coke and designer clothes. (This is a real problem!)

bgprincipessa (#699)

@CL from personal experience?

Also, does that amount of $ seem like a lot to anyone else? I guess that’s what happens when you’re NOT in finance..

CL (#3,590)

@bgprincipessa Friend’s experience. Wouldn’t have been a problem except she very understandably did not get the job.

blair (#1,962)

@bgprincipessa No, yeah, $10k for a summer is INSANE. I’m not sure if any of this even still applies then?

Source: unpaid internships, not in finance

lalaland (#437)

@bgprincipessa Personal experience – finance summer internship $15,000 + $2,000 living expenses stipend in 2007. Typically finance internships are just prorated salaries for a first year analyst.

sea ermine (#122)

@bgprincipessa I think in finance they treat it like salaries? So if the first year salary is 40k and you work for three months (June 1 – August 31) then your salary would be 10k.

I have never worked in finance and never had an internship but one summer in college I also made a pretty high salary for a student. It was $13 an hour and I worked 40 hours a week. So I ended up with 4k, maybe 6k but I think I was only there for 2 months. But I had been working there every summer since I was 16 (when I made $5.85 an hour) so I had slowly moved up the ladder. The town I went to college in had barely any jobs for people who weren’t professors at the university so I just divided the money into a monthly allowance to buy food and books for the next year.

Also, a lot of temp jobs in major cities pay $15 an hour. It shouldn’t be too hard for a college student to get one of those, and end up working in a non profit. You do the same work as the interns and make 7k for a 3 month summer. I wish more schools pushed temping on their students for during college and immediately post college jobs, instead of shitty unpaid internships.

chic noir (#713)

@seaermine I wonder if colleges aren’t getting some sort if kickbacks from “shitty unpaid “internships?

Leila@twitter (#1,607)

@bgprincipessa yes, that IS a lot. Man, and I thought I was lucky to score a paid internship immediately after the recession. Paid meaning $600 a month, because I wasn’t doing it for school credits and negotiated my way into a kind of paid position… Yikes!

Markovaa (#1,509)

Also, can I sound like everyone’s grandmother here and say dress appropriately? Dress more conservatively than you would like on your first day and pay attention to what other people wear. More than likely you will soon be able to wear sundresses and cardigans or corduroys and button ups but you don’t know what the culture is like until you get there! We had a summer intern who wore shorts (!) and everyone talked about her behind her back.

vicky austin (#2,938)

@Franny YES. Do not be the Skintern.

lalaland (#437)

@Franny Ha! Isn’t it funny how offices are hotbeds of the some of the least scandalous gossip? We had a guy show up in nice, leather sneakers on “casual” Fridays and people were SCANDALIZED. Like office doors closed, lots of hushed whispers. Finally, the poor admin had to talk with him about his shoes.

People get bored, man. But yes, shorts are risque.

Catface (#1,106)

@Franny This is so true. As a young person I always dressed more conservatively than other people in the office (I’m from the East Coast and moved to the West, never adjusted to Casual Everyday) and I found it helped me a lot — people seemed to assume I was older and/or more educated and I ended up getting offered projects, opportunities to attend meetings, etc. that were way over my pay grade. Also, people I encountered only sporadically tended to remember me, which as long as you’re doing good work can only be a positive. In the long run, it was so much worth the dry-cleaning bills.

Markovaa (#1,509)

@Catface @lalaland @vicky austin The real irony was that the position that she had was more casual than the rest of the office. She could have worn jeans to work EVERY DAY and no one would have blinked an eye.

@Franny Except if you are a finance intern. Navy skirt suit everyday no exceptions.

vicky austin (#2,938)

Learn your city. Never mention the Congressman in public, or at all. If it’s absolutely unavoidable, he or she is “the Boss.” Don’t wear your intern badge in public. Know when Congress is in session and don’t wear jeans then. Add Downy Wrinkle Release before you do Blair’s steam trick. Learn how to hand-wash. Don’t wear your office shoes outside (carry flip-flops.) Do not tell anyone that you went to McFadden’s, or Sign of the Whale, or Big Hunt, or wherever the kids are going these days. Do give your parents a private Capitol tour when they visit. Absolutely do not dance on the Metro poles like they are stripper poles. Take a week or two at home between your internship and school. Your parents will not kill you when they are tired of hearing about DC; take advantage of this so you don’t exhaust your friends.

Catface (#1,106)

@vicky austin “Do not tell anyone that you went to McFadden’s, or Sign of the Whale, or Big Hunt, or wherever the kids are going these days”: wow, yes. This is tremendous advice.

blair (#1,962)

@vicky austin Wrinkle Release is a thing? My life is changed forever

vicky austin (#2,938)

@blair It is magical and, if memory serves, around the same price point as Febreze. Similar bottle and store location to Febreze as well. I brought an iron and an ironing board when I came to DC to intern but I realize that not everyone is that crazy.

@Catface Hawk and Dove in my day!

@vicky austin One of the things I miss most about the Old Wonkette was the intern mocking. It’s just so funny/cute/sad when literally the lowest paid, least important people in the entire city think they are the center of the universe. Thankfully my go-to dives are well out of the Hill circuit.

@KathleenD@twitter It’s been bought out and half-assedly upscale-ified. I’ll be sad when I can’t go to Big Hunt any more due to too many interns, but they can keep McFadden’s and Sign of the Whale.

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