This blog is written by Coly, our campus ambassador from Pace University.
I’ve been interning in the beautiful city of Manhattan since June, and in that time I have seen some unforgettable things. I’ve made friends with strangers, been almost hit by a cab, and been caught in the rain. But through these experiences I’ve learned some invaluable tips on how to survive when commuting in the city.
- Wear comfy shoes on your walk: Ladies- we know that you spent a slightly shameful amount on those black pumps you’ve been dying to wear to work but be warned; the city is not shoe-friendly. While you may look like a intern-superstar in your high heels, it is never a good idea to wear them on your commute to work, whether it’s for 2 blocks or 20. There’s a few reasons for this, one being that your arches, toes and heels will really start to resent you. It’s not going to improve your morning mood or your productivity at work if you’re limping around because you have blisters. Also, the city sidewalks are a dangerous place, full of holes, garbage, and the nasty stuff that pets tend to leave behind. Looking cute on your walk to work is not worth breaking a heel or soiling a pair of shoes.
- Always be prepared for the weather: Although it may look sunny in the morning when you’re leaving for work, a lot can change while you’re in the office or even when you get out of the subway. Small fold-able umbrellas are not only cheap but they’re extremely convenient. Also, do yourself a favor and check out www.weather.com before you leave your place, or you can easily download the weather.com app onto your smart phone.
- Always check your subway seat before AND after you sit: It may look like someone accidentally left their newspaper on the seat, but don’t be fooled. More often than not, under that newspaper is a big wet mess. I know the subways are crowded and you’re often rushed into a seat, but always check the seat for water, trash or other stain-guaranteed substances. Secondly, how much would you hate yourself for leaving your phone or i-Pod behind? Always, always, always take one last look before you get off the train or bus and make sure nothing fell out of your pockets or bag.
- Bring chargers: We all know the sad truth about technology; a dead phone= end of the world. Yes, it’s a little sad that many people in our generation cannot survive without phone, i-Pod, or i-Pad, but its reality. Being stranded in the city with no phone and no i-Pod can lead to some bad things happening. For one, if you’re someone who is depending on your Google Maps App to get you to where you need to go, a dead phone could mean being lost for an hour. Or if you’re running late, need to send an email or make a call, a dead battery is going to be a huge inconvenience. To prevent a tragedy like this from happening, always make sure your phone or i-Pod is charged before leaving the house, and what the heck, bring an extra charger with you just in case.
- Street Meat is OK: When I first moved into the city, I was very skeptical about the mystifying idea of street meat (that being those street vendors with smoke billowing out of the top, and various meats being served on a kebob). But I learned something very important: street meat is indescribably delicious. If you’re in a bind for lunch and need something quick and cheap, street meat is by far your best option.
- Arm yourself with Apps: New York City is a technology driven world, and if you want to keep up you’re going to have to jump on the bandwagon. Useful apps like New York City Subway 24-Hour Kick Map and Exit Strategy can help you navigate the sometimes tricky subway system. The app CabSense will direct you to best, nearest corner to hail a cab from, SitorSquat will direct you to the nearest bathroom, and the Central Park app will help you get in, out and around Central Park. You might want to think about asking Santa for an i-Phone this year for Christmas!
- Be skeptical about “free” samples: Who doesn’t love picking up a free sample off of a generous salesman? But here’s the catch, they might not be a salesman; they might be a psychopath who is trying to lure you in, get information from you, and cause you harm. Some free samples are legit (I happened to pick up a free energy drink sample from a Red Bull this morning) but be wary and use your best judgment. If you have a bad feeling or a hint of skepticism, it’s best just to opt out of the free sample.
- Use eye-contact with caution: Growing up we were all told it’s polite to use eye-contact and to not do so is rude. However, walking on the streets to work or sitting on the subway may not be the exact time you should be making eye contact with people. It’s a huge city with people from different countries and cultures, and not everyone shares the American philosophy that eye-contact is acceptable. Eye contact with the wrong person can lead to a confrontation, uncomfortable conversation, or you might even incite rage out of a random lunatic. So just be slightly hesitant about flashing those lashes at the wrong person.
- If the cross-walk light is red, don’t go: I know, I know, it is so tempting to walk quickly across the street after the light stops flashing and turn red. But take advice from an almost cab-fatality, just wait till it turns green again. You never know when a car will be turning onto the road or come speeding out of nowhere and almost take you out. Not to mention that jogging across the street could lead to you tripping, dropping things, or (gasp!) spilling coffee on your outfit
- Have business cards on you at all times: A walk or ride to work could lead to many unexpected things, even a networking opportunity. As a college student and intern, networking is practically a full-time job. It is so important to always have a business card on you that has your name, number and email, so that you can whip one out and impress a future employer or fellow intern.
Remember, your commute to your internship is only half the work! This city is unpredictable so be sure to always give yourself enough time to get where you’re going, and arrive at your internship composed and ready to kick some butt!