With the first of two deadlines for EIA summer funding approaching on March 15, it has come to my attention that some of y’all are FREAKING OUT about summer internships, funding, housing, and, thusly, your own (in)significance in the world. I overhear you talking with your friends at the other end of my lunch table in Atwater, debating whether it’s appropriate to include your 11th grade Model U.N. exploits on your resume. I detect the thin current of panic in your voice when you come into the EIA to clarify a deadline for this or that internship. I overheard you, once, say to a friend who hadn’t started looking for internships (the first week of J-Term), “Whoa. You better get on that. I mean, what are you going to do…like, work at Whole Foods?” (OH GOOD GOD, NOT WHOLE FOODS.)
To assuage some of your anxieties, I thought it might help just a little to offer some advice from someone who’s “been there,” that is, gone through the processes that are freaking you out so much. Applying for funding. Holding down your first “real person” internship or job. Finding a place to live and paying the rent. Living on your own in a new city or area of the country. Giving a Skype interview. Wearing “slacks?”
Eliza Wallace, a junior from Shepherdstown, West Virginia, was in your same boat at this time last year and guess what — it all turned out totally fine. Eliza, a joint English and Geography major, ended up interning with Ugly Duckling Presse and zingmagazine last summer and working part-time at a (pie!) bakery in Brooklyn. Eliza was kind enough to answer some questions via e-mail–while studying abroad in Istanbul, Turkey–about her experience finding her internships, applying for summer funding, and procuring housing in Brooklyn.
1. So, what were the biggest reasons you wanted to go to New York?
I wanted to go to New York because I am a cliché! Just kidding, I mean, sort of. There are a lot of girlchildren out there listening to Lou Reed and wearing some old man’s clothes and wishing they could live in a supah-cute reclaimed-wood exposed-brick studio in the East Village working for Vanity Fair and eating brunch at Balthazar every Sunday. I am not going to deny I like the glittery-glitter of that delusion, but I think I also love New York because, as someone from Switzerland told me a couple weeks ago, “New York belongs to the world.” I really liked the sound of that. I thought I was the kind of person who should be living in New York. I’ve always identified with the stereotypical fast-walking New Yorker jerk. In a practical sense, New York is a logical place if you want to be competitive in a creative industry. It’s happenin’, so to speak. Also I really love to be in places where crazy people congregate. Crazy people inspire me. There are few better places than New York for crazy people encounters.
2. How’d you find your internships?
I wasn’t really ready to apply to big-name companies and magazines, so I was looking for smaller, maybe less nationally competitive editorial and publishing internships. A Middlebury alum friend had interned at Ugly Duckling Presse, a poetry publishing house I first discovered through some convoluted Internet shimmy. I emailed her for info on her experience. She not only had good, honest opinions on her time there, but also gave me the names and specific jobs of the editors and managers. It is always invaluable to pin-point the most appropriate person to send your cover letter/resume combo to if that information isn’t clear up front on their website or something. So I knew exactly who to contact and I had a former intern’s name to drop! (Networking!)
I found zingmagazine because I picked up a copy of the publication in an art book store. That’s a really good way to find out the work of some stellar publications–searching high-end art and design bookstores. These are usually produced by a few people so you will get to know your supervisors very well and you will have a more active role in all parts of the publishing process, than say, if you were a nameless member of the herd of interns at Vogue or something. I figured out who the managing editor was and sent him my cover letter/resume. (Research!)
I had a Skype interview for Ugly Duckling and a phone interview for zing. I had figured out my answer for “Why do you want this internship?” and thoroughly Googled both of the people I would be talking to before the interviews. It is usually a big plus to be able to start an interview with: “I really like reading your feminist literature blog, future boss!”
3. Can you talk a little about applying for funding?
It is a little stressful because it adds a lot of extra bits to the to-do list labeled “Summer 2013 Internships and Stuff,” but it is entirely worth it! Last summer the funding helped make it feasible for me to live in New York, place of infamously outrageous real estate, in a neighborhood close to my internships and Prospect Park, which is a saving grace in the middle of a New York summer heat wave.
4. So how’d you end up finding your housing?
Craigslist, baby! I am a Craigslist devotee. I have even used Turkish Craigslist with great success! I also had to figure out what specific neighborhoods to search, and though I had been to New York several times before, I hadn’t been to Queens or Brooklyn (my price range) and didn’t know what to expect in say, Crown Heights or Astoria. I did a lot of Internet searching and talking with New Yorkers at Middlebury to get a feel for the different vibes and estimated rent prices in different areas. If you are paying more than 1000 per month for a 2 or 3-bedroom in Crown Heights, you are getting ripped off, kid. If you are paying less than 1000 per month for a studio in Greenpoint, to whom did you sell your soul, sorcerer? (Research AND networking!)
5. Any advice for finding housing on Craigslist?
Scan it obsessively until you start to understand who and what is a scam and what looks like a good deal. Keep a list of all the links to the offers that look promising and start emailing. Don’t give away personal information in preliminary conversations but be willing to answer questions that are simply trying to figure out if you are an axe-murderer or not. Ask to Skype them or meet them beforehand if they are going to be your future roommate, obviously. Don’t send off “deposits” all willy nilly! Only do money stuff when you are all moved in and all is well! Just use your common sense and remember how many smart people have been Catfish-ed (Google that, you guys, come on) in online interactions, so it could happen to you too! It is the Internet and anything is possible, in the best and worst way.
6. Even though it was kind of stressful looking for internships, funding, housing, etc., was your summer worth it?
It was! I got to know New York very well, had some internships that helped me understand a little sliver of the art and publishing world in the city, and I just had the dandy-est time doing it all.
7. Why can’t I get through the subway turnstiles in New York? :(
You know, they are really persnickety devices. The New York subway system is an exercise in tolerating absurdity, horror, sweat stains on your silk blouse before 9 a.m. One time the A and C trains failed to show up so I took a risk with the J or something and ended up absolutely no where I was supposed to be and got more and more lost as I jumped indiscriminately on three more trains. Finally I was so late to work that I just got lunch and wandered from Wall Street to Soho. I just gave my boss a look like, “I don’t even know, man. Construction?” I love the NY subway, though. It’s a transportation system with personality.
8. What would you have done differently during your internship/funding/housing searches and application processes, knowing what you know now?
Eek, I don’t know. I feel good about what I did last year. Last year I was so on top of my stuff, it was incredible. This year, I feel like I’m completely winging it, haven’t made a to-do list in months. It’s very much a problem. Start early!
9. Make a joke about New York.
Like a knock-knock joke? Eh. Maybe just watch Seinfeld or Girls or something if you want jokes about New York. Those people are professionals. I do have a non-sequitor suggestion though. I suggest you become a regular patron of the Vietnamese place on the corner of 10th St. and 7th Ave. in Brooklyn. Their sandwiches are dope.
To apply for summer funding, go/summerfunding or if you are seriously that lazy, click here. Still have questions? Contact Peggy Burns, Director of Internships (but please, for the love of internships, scan the FAQ section on the page above first: we were pretty thorough) or stop in to see an EIA adviser during Drop-In hours, Monday through Friday, 2-5 PM.