”Tis the season! The stress, the fear of the unknown, the desire to use the years of studying, the dream of getting out on your own, the drive to see what is ahead…. the innate competition to get THE job….
We start these conversations early on- way before our clients are ready to hire and Way before the kids graduate. We remind them to be patient, that the good will come, that they need to be present, that once we are grown-ups there’s no going back. We try to be another source of adult sense of reason. We mentor, we talk off ledges, we inspire, we challenge, and simply said- we help.
However, there is one little piece of the city that never sleeps that somehow gets tangled up in all of our heartfelt professional efforts; One tiny little word that dismantles all of our well intended coaching: RENT.
New York City is the place where dreams are chased and made. The city for fashion, media, creative, finance, Broadway, publishing, food. Fabulous.. and Cool. It is also the city that has plenty of people to choose from, the city where really sub par living situations become sparkly and amazing, and a city that can induce panic, hysteria, and rash decision making about career choice.
This story-line was just as prevalent in 1999 as it is in 2017 (yes, you can do the math on me, I don’t care…and worse, the rents were the same in 1999 as they are today and the entry level salary range was half of what I see doled out currently).
After a perfectly constructive face to face, phone, or even email conversation about resume, career, and interview… my new grad candidate will unravel with any version of the following rant:
“I can’t move until I get a job. My parents won’t let me. I won’t let me.”
” I live out of the tri state area”
“I live in NJ or LI or CT… I can commute from home but I really don’t want to”
“I can figure out a place to stay and can interview, but can’t live on my friend’s couch forever”
” I can’t get an apartment without a job. I can’t get a job without a place to stay.”
” My friends that I want to live with have jobs already.”
” If I don’t get a job, I will miss out on a roommate.”
“If we don’t look at this apartment in Astoria, we can’t afford the city. My commute to this role you are presenting me to will be longer than if I just stayed at my house with my parents”.
“When I do get my eventual job, I will have no one to live with and then I can’t move in”
Worse- the part that the new grad doesn’t naturally think about without their parents berating it in their heads:
No matter what, the rent will be at least one whole pay check per month, if not more.
I am here to tell you- once again, you are not alone. You and every single person has been in this situation. It’s NYC. People are going to have more than you and less than you. Most people have more than one job. Most people can’t depend on their parents (though most people are doing something with help). Most people are bartending, waitressing, babysitting, etc to have spending money as their day to day income is to go to their rent and overhead.
You need to meet this reality head on. You need to have a true understanding of the math. 99 percent of entry level creative salaries are $35-45K. and 99 percent of those roles will NOT be “offered” out until the candidate(you) are in person, available, and can start tomorrow.
What does this mean? Take the time to travel, see family, enjoy some time between graduation and starting your career. You won’t get the time back. Take the time to digest that whatever will be will be- you may miss out on a roommate and its okay; you may have to commute for a while- its okay… you just have to ride the wave. Don’t interview for the dollar signs, interview for your heart. The difference won’t make any. I promise….
And most importantly- don’t be fooled. New York will never be affordable. Not today. Not ever. Just because your friend got this amazing job at 60K out of school doesn’t mean he/she won’t have just as much trouble paying bills as you will. Trust me.
I am going to say this for the world to see and I don’t have any shame in saying this secret truth: This city is only affordable for the small percentage who are incredibly rich. The more you earn, the more you spend. The more you have, the more you think you deserve.
New grads, give yourself the grace of knowing that you will not have anything in your checking account, will always be a little broke, and will be living in the greatest city in the world…in all its glory and squalor because you want to. Send your parents to this blog for my words of wisdom if you want. I empathize with them and they know if they are local that I speak the truth (the hardest is for the families not from here- eek!) Money will come in time… but it will always come at an ironic cost.
The hardest thing to do is to take that plunge out of your cap and gown and into the workforce… don’t get caught up in the things you can’t control or fix. Rise above and enter educated and at your own risk 🙂