3 Lessons Learned from Spending a Month in New York City


By: Kelly Gibson, Communications & Digital Strategy Chair

I had dreamt of living in New York City since I was 16 years old; the thought consumed me. I remember seeing my favorite TV show characters striving to get to New York and thinking, “What could be so special about it? It’s just a city.”

New York City is no ordinary city. It is pure magic.1

Add five years of dreaming and three years of a vigorous, extracurricular-packed Penn State schedule, and I am here. My internship at a beautiful PR firm in Manhattan this summer is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can confidently say at age 21 that I know exactly what I want to do and exactly where I want to be. However, the first month of being here has not been easy. There have been many ups and downs. There have been severe lessons learned, and I will continue messing up (and hopefully learning from it) throughout the second half of this summer.

Here are three important lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way while living in the Big Apple.

1. Work is… well…work

One of the best and most positive things I’ve learned this month is how passionate I am about public relations. My love for the industry, along with my skill set, is growing every day. However, what I’ve realized about work is that it is… work. It’s tiring. It’s stressful. It’s real. Every part-time job I’ve had in the past, I’ve been able to work mindlessly. I could show up exhausted without a care in the world and just do my job without thinking. In the real world, you have to be present and focused at all times. You can’t go out on a work night because you won’t be fully alert the next morning. You shouldn’t rush a Broadway show on a Wednesday night and be out until one in the morning because you have to be up at eight. This experience is teaching me first-hand what adulthood and the corporate world will be like, and I gotta say, it’s pretty great – despite my hatred of mornings.

2. Not everything is a ‘dream come true’

When I first got here, I was intrigued and enchanted by every aspect of life. I feel like I could live in this city my whole life and still fall in love with something different every day. This is my main problem with being here. I have these glistening New York City goggles through which I see nothing wrong with it. I feel safe 24/7. Everything sounds like a great idea. From learning the hard way, I’ve realized that things that I hate outside of NYC, I will still hate in NYC. New York City won’t make me like seafood. It won’t make me love overly crowded public places with loud music. It definitely won’t make me enjoy early mornings (even though they’re beautiful) despite my wishes. Just because I am in the city of my dreams, doesn’t mean everything is a dream. Reality still exists somehow in my own personal heaven, and I’m learning more about myself every day.

3. You have to put yourself out there

When I first came to Penn State as a barely 18-year-old during summer session in 2012, I was very fortunate to meet my two best friends and roommates within the first two days. I will never have this exceptional luck again in my life, and because of that luck, I have gotten lazy. I expect to meet people easily, and I rarely try anymore. However, now that I’m in a big city only knowing a few people, I am being forced to put myself out there. I am being forced to attempt to make friends in unfamiliar environments. With co-workers in particular, whom I’ve realized I am very different from, I am being forced to try to be the social one and start conversation. I am expanding my horizons in every way possible here, and these tests of my social skills are only going to help me in the future.

Between all of the lessons, my wonderful internship and my obsessive adoration for New York, I couldn’t be happier or more exhausted with my life right now. Here’s to another month and a half of losing my debit cards, leaving my blazers in restaurants and making horrible small talk – and doing it all in the city that never sleeps.


Image credit: FilmsofCrawford.com

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