Blog post by ELP Student Grace Wang (Computer Science & Business Admin | Class of 2021)
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Having grown up in every type of suburbia imaginable, New York City was my equivalent of unicorns and rainbows growing up. 19 years later (still in love with unicorns and rainbows), I’ve realized that despite all the historical architecture and flashy signs, the city is still a place where the majority of people have to wake up in the morning, go to work, go home, and repeat. However, there are ways to make that cycle more exciting – as an intern in the city, I’ve had plenty of time to explore and experiment, so here are a few tips and tricks!
Smile… Mentality Matters
Be happy. Take care of yourself. Help and bond with your fellow interns. A positive attitude goes a long way and people will remember if you got them coffee (or food or band-aids and etc.). Yes, New Yorkers are not that rude.
However, don’t try to be nice to the point where you accept everything others say. Do whatever you want. Don’t try to fit in. The city is a great place to practice this. Consciously try to develop a new avenue of thinking. If you think the same as everyone else, how are you ever going to do what no one else has done before (crux of entrepreneurship)?
Work Hard – Feel the Vibes
The city is where dreams are made of because of the sheer mass of people here and the resources they represent. It’s simple logic. Every day is a learning opportunity… no, strike that. Every moment is a learning opportunity. Observe social inequality while walking the streets of the city. How does it affect people? Observe how people interact in the office and how networks are built. What communications skills can I learn? Visit new restaurants and note what made you choose them. What is the unique value proposition? Feed off the energy of the millions in the city trying to achieve their own dreams.
While the city is a great place to cultivate an entrepreneurial venture for reasons that I am sure there are a million articles online, it’s a great place to be entrepreneurial about your own person too. My Mom used to always nag, “When you cheat, you only cheat yourself.” Laziness is one of the most dangerous and nuanced forms of cheating. You came to the city with a purpose, so keep that purpose in mind. Frame your big picture in your new apartment if you have to. I have it as a sticky note on my laptop. Plan out how you’re going to achieve that purpose because God knows there are plenty of distractions in the city.
One of the things I’ve been trying out is a new sleep schedule. I’m not ashamed to admit that as a freshman in college, I hung out with friends way too late and had to wake up insanely early to get homework done. Now, I sleep at 11 pm and wake up at 5 am. Those three hours in the morning before work is when I am the most productive and sleeping early has done miracles for my energy level throughout the day. Sure, starting out on a better sleep schedule was a rough start – I wouldn’t go to bed till 1 am (still early for college me) and average 4 hours of sleep. Not ideal.
Go to a New Food Place Everyday
As a Yelp Elite food reviewer, food, in my opinion, is one of the greatest comforts of mankind. The city is foodtopia, so whatever cool diet you want to try (aka vegan, paleo), this is the time to do it. Also, I’d recommend trying out a Michelin Star restaurant here (even if that means skipping a few meals) so that you’ll realize just how precious money is and actually budget it. Yes, reverse logic is key to perfecting self-control in the city. Here are a few healthy food items (from pretty popular chains) you can’t find anywhere else:
Low-Carb Bagel (150 calories – how is this even possible?!) – Bagel Boss
Sweet Pumpkin Donut – Tous Les Jour
Ginseng Roll Cake – Besfren
Bagelino – Fresh&Co
Misugaru Latte – Caffe Bene
Chicken Plate – Uncle Gussy’s
Herb-roasted Chicken Marketbowl – Dig Inn
Hand-ripped Noodles – Xi’an Famous Foods
Ok, pardon my Asian bias, but I’ve been deprived of quality, authentic Asian food from all my time in America’s quaint suburbs.
Get a NYPL Card
If just for the free Lynda (LinkedIn’s learning platform), a New York Public Library card is a must. And trust me when I say that it takes literally 5 seconds and that I could be Kim Jong Un and still get a NYPL card.
Know How to Count
First of all, New York City boroughs are humongous, so if you’re meeting up with friends, it does not help to tell them that you are in “Manhattan.” Second, the streets are all numbered on a grid, so even the most directionless person should be able to navigate the city… that is if you know how to count.
Cheap Gym Membership
Working out is contagious here. If you weren’t lucky enough to get an apartment with a gym, worry not. I got a Blink Fitness gym membership for $12 a month (promo) and 24 Hour Fitness and Planet Fitness are in that range too. Just remember to cancel a month in advance.
Grab Coffee with Others
Hang out with others in the city. Reach out to people and build your network. Try to figure out what you want in life (I know it’s a lot to ask for), but one of the greatest lessons the city teaches you (whether literally with its streets or abstractly with its people) is that it’s important to have a direction and an end goal. Whether or not you actually end up there is a different question, but just try not to unintentionally walk in circles.
Last piece of advice isn’t really advice at all. Go to bed feeling tired. You know you’re working hard if your head hits the pillow and the snoozes come. zzzZZZZZZZZZZZ.