you are worth (at least) a travel stipend

I started watching Sex and the City during the fourth week of my post-grad life. As I sped through the first season, I got it in my head that I wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw. Perhaps not exactly like her, but a few of the luxuries she has would be nice. I want her fixed-rent and well-decorated apartment. I want to be able to afford $400 shoes but not necessarily buy them. I want a career where I can work from the comfort of my bed.

My post-grad life has thus far consisted of hunting for internships on Indeed and working four days a week in retail. I’ve begun to settle in at home, permanently as of now, but there’s always one thing I’m thinking about: what I’m really supposed to be doing.

I haven’t figured that out yet.

I know it’s something akin to working at an internship or job that relates to what I studied in college, but I’m having a hard time trying to narrow that down as well.

Everyone tells me not to be discouraged about feeling lost after graduation. There are thousands of people just like me. But it’s hard not to be discouraged when my two college roommates have “real” jobs. It’s hard not to be discouraged when I fill out 40 internship applications and get only a handful or responses, half of them a “no”. How many rejections can I handle?

A lot, I guess.

Luckily (or so I thought), I had an interview for a copywriting internship. Of course, when I thought of an internship in the city, I thought of a clean office with a nice view. I thought of well-dressed employees. A Keurig.

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c/o creative commons

It was a closet across from Grand Central. No natural light streamed from the fluorescent bulbs in the ceiling. The vibe of this place was more “sweatshop” than “startup”. Ten employees in an area that should fit four. There was no Keurig. They offered me the position and I froze.

I had a sneaking suspicion that while they said they would pay for a travel stipend, that wasn’t going to happen. A monthly pass from my train stop to Grand Central is $404. Is an intern really worth that much to them? Since I haven’t heard from them in a week, I’m guessing not.

But, more importantly, was this the sort of atmosphere I wanted to work in? Beggars can’t be choosers…or can they?

Yes and no. I would’ve taken that job had they offered to pay the full stipend. I’m desperate enough to do any sort of work that will get me either good money or a potential career, however, that doesn’t mean I should be. We should all be choosers to some degree.

If the environment of the job freaks you out within five seconds of stepping in the office, that’s probably a sign that you should keep searching.

I wonder how Carrie Bradshaw got her first, real job?


unnamedArlie Johansen graduated with a BA in English from SUNY New Paltz, which has lead to her current career: working in retail. On a normal day you can find her lurking around on job posting sites, re-watching The Office, and trying to make a good cup of coffee. Check out her  website, www.arliejohansen.com, to see more of her writing.

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