Pleasantly Surprised in New York City

When I learned I was going to be an intern in New York City, the first image that flashed before my eyes was Meryl Streep as the high-power boss from hell in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Hearing “trial by fire” intern tales from other peers, I envisioned a summer of frantically researching reports, fetching coffee, office hours till 10 p.m. and some mild verbal abuse. I prepared myself for anything and reflected back on my competitive prep school days.

So it was to my surprise on my first day at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations that I was greeted with kindness, coffee and the ever-old phrase “You’re learning, so feel free to ask lots of questions.” Trust me, I was relieved and excited by the possibility of an open dialogue relationship with my supervisor, Anne, but where was the ruthless New York I had often heard about? Wasn’t I supposed to be fetching her coffee?

Talking further with Anne, I learned my first duties would be re-designing the UNAOC’s migration program website, organizing a 10k race in Central Park, helping promote a video produced by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about immigration and updating the program’s social media presence. Having interned in Europe the previous four months, I relished the idea of working in another international environment and suddenly those silly feelings of anxiety and fear disappeared. Verbal abuse and frantic runs up Lexington Avenue would not be staple memories of my summer experience; New York was actually welcoming me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my NYC internship isn’t easy. It’s actually quite hard, intense, fast-paced, challenging and hectic at times if you will. But I’ve quickly caught on to the three or four big projects I am working simultaneously on, and the quick-paced environment has become second-nature now after three weeks. I appreciate the independence I have in running meetings or deciding upon what will go on our new website. My boss trusts me. And I get to work in a pretty cool place: the Chrysler Building.

So if I have any advice for future NYC interns out there, don’t surrender utterly to the tales of hellish bosses and 15-hour work days. Because who knows, you might ended up pleasantly surprised like me and loving every minute of it. And for those who do end up with the Meryl Streeps of the world: Well, hell, you are in New York.

By Harriet White


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