I’ve known for a majority of my life that I wanted to move to New York. It seemed glamorous in movies—the fast-pace lifestyle, the endless opportunities, and the people—it was unlike anything I had ever known in Arizona. I soon realized though that New York was not going to welcome me with open arms, and it was not waiting for me, an average twenty-something girl from the Southwest.
During my internship, and my first year living in New York, I have learned that New York does in fact have endless opportunities; but no good thing ever comes easy. It takes a lot of perseverance, preparation and missteps along the way. And trust me, I didn’t just go from Arizona to New York overnight either; I spent all of college preparing for this move. Here are four lessons that led me from Small-Town Arizona to Big Apple New York.
Saying “Yes” to Opportunities
I was overly involved in high school. I was the president of one club, the event planner in another, and a member of several others. Naturally, when I went to college, I felt the urge to be extremely involved too. To me, being involved meant, learning opportunities, a larger network, and more experience. I thought of it as more of a business plan rather than a social endeavor. I also learned to say, “yes.”
I would say, “yes” to attending events, helping with local projects, and anything I could get my hands on. This led me to creating my multiple side hustles: A fashion/lifestyle blog, a styling business, and freelance writing. By saying “yes,” it created a level of trust with my local network and more opportunities presented themselves.
The Power of Informational Interviews
My sophomore year I won a trip through my business program to visit New York City for a week and conduct informational interviews. I had never done an informational interview before, and I hardly knew where to start; but this experience taught me the importance of building a relationship with people in your network, and the effectiveness of a follow-up email. The next two years, I thrived on informational interviews during internships, staying connected to my New York contact list, and being open to meeting anyone and everyone I could.
Building a Personal Brand
Fact: Your resume is one of hundreds, maybe even thousands of resumes that hiring managers will look at, and no, that monogrammed letterhead itself will not snag you an interview. You have to learn to build your personal brand. Luckily for me, I had an easy outlet for what I wanted to do, and that was managing my blog—I was able to style, write and create, all within one hub. This blog became my personal brand. I soon built a network within Arizona who knew me as this blogger/stylist/entrepreneur, and was offered projects, jobs, etc. since people could easily see who was I was beyond the one-sheet resume of internships and odd-jobs.
You don’t need a blog, or a cool graphic to build your personal brand either. You need to tailor your focus and your experiences to what you’re interested in pursuing. Maybe you’re interested in technology? Attend technology conferences to network, read into the industry to expand your knowledge, and create your own personal network or hobbies within the technology industry, etc. By doing this, a hiring manager, or potential colleague, will understand that you’re that tech savvy person, and that you’re good at it.
Don’t be afraid to express your interests, your desires, or what you want. If you don’t say anything, no one will know, or even care to ask. This has been the hardest, yet most rewarding lesson I learned when moving to New York.
Stepping Outside of My Comfort Zone
Arizona was comfortable. I had a large group of friends and family, a network that respected me, and a pretty kick-ass local resume. I definitely could have stayed in Arizona after college, but I knew that I needed to step outside of my comfort zone of Arizona, and dive into the madness of New York City. Sure, it’s been hard. Some days are harder than others; but I also wouldn’t change it for the world. I learned that New York isn’t going to greet anyone with open arms, and that in order to succeed, there has to be a little discomfort, nerves and the willingness to not be afraid of missteps or failure.
I attended too many networking and social events to count during my first year in New York, but I don’t regret it. I met some of my best friends, my business partners and mentors during these awkward-name-tag-wearing events, and it’s great!
So now, whether you’re hoping to move to New York in the future, or you’re currently sitting in your new furniture-less and overpriced apartment, remember, New York isn’t going to wait for you to catch up. Be prepared, do your research and have fun with it; it’s yours for the taking!
Are you looking for an internship or new job? Join us at Hustle Summit on July in NYC and Chicago. You’ll connect with companies, recruiters and other like-minded professionals. It’s our biggest, most out-of-the-box networking event, and you won’t want to miss it. Buy your ticket here.