So you’ve landed your dream internship in your favorite city. Now what? With so little time and so much to do, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. To help you stay on track, plus give you a little peace of mind, I’ve broken down my top tips for making the big move and establishing yourself once you’ve unpacked those boxes.
Things to do before your move:
- Start the conversation. The HR representative or hiring team is a great resource to inquire about the most common neighborhoods where junior staff and interns live. Weber Shandwick has a well-seasoned internship program, so the hiring team was able to provide me with a few neighborhood recommendations – much better than going into the apartment hunt blind!
- Don’t rush things. You now have a list of recommended neighborhoods to live in, but don’t act just yet. Spend your first week exploring the new city and becoming familiar with what areas suit you best. I lived in an Airbnb for the first two weeks, checking out a new apartment every day. Taking my time to find an apartment really allowed me to feel comfortable with my decision. After all, this is your new home!
- #RealMoneyTalk. Ask about pay! It’s common for people to avoid talking about money but it’s important. This will help set clear goals and boundaries for finding a home and budgeting for upcoming purchases. Budgeting? Yep, you read that right. Welcome to the not-so-glamorous side to living in a big city.
- Keep the conversation going. What other questions to you have? Don’t be afraid to ask! Consult your HR representative or hiring team about anything you’ll want to know before day one. Here is a list of example questions:
- Is there a dress code?
- What time should I arrive on my first day?
- What will my typical hours look like?
The First Month:
- Mingle. Mingle. Who doesn’t love a good happy hour? Schedule meet-and-greet coffees and happy hour sessions with your fellow interns and junior staff. Hint: This is another great opportunity to explore your new city. Interns and junior staff will be able to answer your most common questions – they likely had the same ones when they first started! This is also a great way to get to know the people you’ll be working closely with every day.
- Find a mentor. Your mentor will be your guide throughout the process and most likely become a lifelong friend. Find a mentor to immediately establish a safe place for discussing questions about the industry, career paths and everything else in between. This person can be whoever you want, but this tends to work best when this person sits on a separate team.
- Set personal and professional goals. Taking an internship in a new city where you don’t know anyone is a huge step in advancing your professional career. But, remember, personal goals are just as crucial. Your internship could be peaches and cream, but if you aren’t having fun outside of your 9-5, you could have tainted views of your experience. During my first month, I set two goals: to hang out with one new person (outside of work and within work) once a week, and to only eat at local restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I love Taco Bell just as much as the next girl. But you never know, the hole-in-the-wall down the street could be your next go-to after those draining days when the emails and Slack messages don’t seem to stop.
- Step outside your comfort zone. Finding work friends will be easy (see step 1). Finding friends outside of work will be the fun-but-not-so-fun part. There’s no shame in joining apps like Bumble BFF and MeetUp. These are great resources to meet someone who is in a similar situation as you. Facebook also has awesome church, sport or hiking groups to join. For me, it was about finding my go-to brunch group. I’ve also had great luck connecting with friends of friends. You might not know anyone in the city at the moment, but your college friend might! Ask around.
- Schedule time to talk with family, but know this is your time to focus on being in the moment. Go to a concert or see a movie alone. Moving to a new city is not only a way to find out more about the world around you but it’s also the ample time to discover who you are! Can I get a “I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t do you know what that mean?”
To sum it all up, yes. DO IT.
What’s my biggest piece of advice? Like your average 20-something I couldn’t pick just one, so here are my top five:
- Throw yourself into the real world, embracing all the changes big and small.
- Be ready to grow.
- Don’t be afraid of success (or failure).
- Be patient.
- Don’t mix your whites with your reds. 😉