Don Draper Isn’t the Only Westchester Success Story: On Finding Noble Pursuits Nearby

Interning in the city can be an incredible experience: eating falafel out of a truck, shopping on lunch breaks, sewer exhaust, hitting the bars after work, pretending you’re Liz Lemon. All of these wonderful things make schlepping your $18 peak-hour ass on the Metro-North a good deal. That and spending some quality time with your conference work during the commute.

But for those not interested in conquering Alicia Keys’ concrete jungle just yet, don’t forget that Westchester County is still located within the state of New York and can offer plenty of opportunities for getting job experience and spicing up that resume.

After developing an interest in journalism, I found my first Editorial Internship at Westchester Magazine in Elmsford. Pros: The staff was consistently helpful and encouraging; I learned a lot about the county history, events, and nightlife; I significantly developed my phone skills; I got to speak to real estate agents with names like Muffin Dowdle (actual name); I enjoyed sweet discounts at delish restaurants; I learned about million dollar homes, weddings, and pearls in ways I didn’t think possible. Cons: My groundbreaking pearl article was shortlisted for the Pulitzer that year. As I’ll stress, there are trade-offs.

Martha Stewart, Richard Gere, Rob Thomas, and the Clintons aren’t the only success stories that Westchester has to offer. I have a good friend interested in education reform who does work with young students at the Science Barge in Yonkers. Additionally, my roommate interned at the Rye District Attorney’s Office and realized that she, in fact, does not want to be a lawyer. Perfect.

I realize that committing to office experience throughout Westchester may require a car, however, the Metro-North does run throughout the county. It can give you the chance to burst out of the Yonxville bubble and explore some of the beauty that New York suburbs have to offer.

Also, look for chances to work remotely. See if there are any opportunities to blog for your favorite website. Perhaps there is a renowned institution looking for a student to conduct research or a D.C.-based publication seeking a New Yorker’s input. One of the smartest ways to approach a job search is to either find where you’re needed or make yourself needed. With the rapid advancements of the digital age, we have a skill set that not many established, powerful higher-ups have harnessed yet. I’ve been asked in almost every interview about which social media networks I’m comfortable with using. Tweeting, blogging, and Facebook updates can all be accomplished from the (dis)comfort of your own dorm.

Whatever path you may decide to pursue, remember to take advantage of the resources available to you. Ask your Don or your professor if they know of any opportunities in your field (mad connections!) Visit the Office of Career Counseling; the staff are always friendly and take an almost stalker-like interest in what internships you may be doing. Check out CareerLink. It’s where I found every one of my internships throughout my Sarah Lawrence career. Don’t be shy about talking to friends, classmates, and reaching out to alumni regarding your interests and goals.

This is the time, guys. Never again will you have the chance to work your ass off, kiss other people’s asses, make an ass of yourself, and not even get paid for any of it. In fact, you may be tempted to even pay a nice gesture to your bosses because they benefited from your free labor while you soaked up their awesomeness. That’s just the (questionably illegal) paradox of the internship system.

In the words of a good friend and wise man, “Sarah Lawrence students are going to take over the fucking world.” That means you; so get going.

Amanda is a native New Yorker and peanut butter enthusiast. She is currently an Editorial Assistant at The Faster Times and Assistant Editor at The New York Egotist. She has written for Lilith Magazine and Moment Magazine about all things Jewish and questionably Jewish. Email: Twitter: @amandawalgrove

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