Former NYC interns share tips for housing hunting (updated)
By Heather Farr
You finally did it. After filling out hundreds of applications, pleading for dozens of recommendation letters and compiling countless mini portfolios, you landed the internship of your dreams in the Big Apple. Before you tune out and spend the rest of the school year dreaming of Lady Liberty, there is one more tiny detail you’ve got to figure out: where in the world are you going to live?
There are tons of books, magazine articles and online news stories about how to prepare for an interview or nab an internship, but many leave out this very big (and sometimes stressful) next step. Luckily, there have been Bobcats before you who faced the very same dilemma. Below are several options former NYC interns suggest you check out.
The Webster Apartments is a female-only facility located in mid-Manhattan. The building is within walking distance from Madison Square Garden, the Broadway theater district, Time Square and the famous Macy’s Department Store. The convenient location and the reasonable price have kept OHIO interns, like senior Lauren Nolan, coming back for years. According to Nolan, who interned with the Miss Universe Organization last spring, "for the price, you can’t get better."
"I was able to walk to and from work every day, which was a fun way to explore the city, and it’s adjacent to Hell’s Kitchen, so there were always new places to try," Nolan said. "Also, the rent includes two meals a day, and although most of the time I wasn’t a huge fan of what they had to offer, they always had alternative options like a salad bar, a cold plate and a large variety for vegetarians."
In addition to two meals a day, Webster tenants receive maid service and a 24-hour doorman. Each room comes with a sink, closet, dresser and, for a small fee, Internet connection. The Webster is also unique in that it houses a large, open garden on the roof, complete with a breathtaking view of the city.
According to Evanne Armour (BSJ ’11), a downside of the Webster is that guests must pay to stay the night and male visitors, including your dad, are not allowed past the front lobby. Despite the Webster’s downfalls, senior Brittany Balandis would look into the apartments if she could go back to her NYC internship and do it again.
"While the Webster is slightly outdated, it’s an excellent option for young interns and professionals who need safe, reliable housing for a short period of time," Balandis said. "Plus, the daily meals are a huge plus for broke college students."
A similar option is The Brandon, located on the Upper West Side.
Educational Housing Services (EHS) is a not-for-profit company that provides housing for visiting students and interns. According to its website, EHS residences are located in "New York City’s best and most convenient neighborhoods." During his time as an intern with Channel One News, Patrick Henderson (BSJ ’11) stayed in the New Yorker, a historic hotel in which EHS blocks off a section of rooms for summer interns. Like the Webster, the New Yorker is just a short walk from Times Square, Broadway, Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building.
"The New Yorker was really close to Penn Station and a lot of good subway lines," Henderson said. "It was great to be close to mass transit because I could get wherever I needed quickly, but I also had to deal with NYC rush hour. Penn Station can get really congested with pedestrian traffic."
EHS provides fully furnished rooms, as well as extras like free high-speed Internet, gym access, cable television and a resident life staff. According to Henderson, the New Yorker was the "cleanest, safest and most convenient location" for him, but there are a lot of other great options.
"I would recommend the New Yorker for students who plan to intern over the summer, but the prices of EHS housing is kind of high. There are cheaper options," he said.
During the summer, New York University opens up its residence halls for students and summer interns. The residence halls are located in some of New York City’s most well known neighborhoods, including Greenwich Village, SoHo and Union Square. Kristen Oritz (BSJ ’10) lived in a dorm in Washington Square Park and enjoyed its "perfect location," among other things.
"There was a security guard on staff 24/7. I didn’t have a kitchen, but we had our own bathroom. You were able to get a meal plan and use all of NYU’s facilities, such as dining halls, fitness centers and buses," Ortitz said.
NYU offers two summer housing options: traditional, which has no kitchen and requires the purchase of a meal plan, and apartment-style, which includes a kitchen and the option of a meal plan. According to Lucci, the living arrangement is similar to that of OU or any other college campus.
"I stayed with a friend, and she had three random roommates who were doing the same internship program. Everyone had their own room. There was only one huge bathroom and a kitchen/dining area," Lucci said. "There was no living room, which was kind of frustrating because there was no place to relax, but I felt really safe there."
In addition to 24-hour security, NYU provides cable television, Internet connection and laundry facilities. NYU summer housing at NYU starts on May 20 and ends on August 11. Applications will become available in mid to late February.
Similar to NYU, Columbia University provides students and interns with secure, conveniently located housing during the summer. Annie Porembski (BSJ ’09) lived in a dorm "apartment" with five other students doing broadcast or journalism internships.
"I felt safe with the doorman and security. Columbia is in a safer neighborhood, and you are on campus with other students," Porembski said. "You are also very close to the 1, so it is easy to get downtown if that is where you are working."
The residence halls are also right on the M60 bus line to LaGuardia, so getting to and from the airport is easy and less expensive. Another benefit, according to Porembski, is that she was able to bring guests in and have visitors, which is often not an option in student and temporary housing.
According to Porembski, many amenities are not provided, such as a television, microwave and cookware. Porembski did get her own room and the halls provided a small kitchen with a sink, oven and storage. Despite the high price of living in the Columbia dorms, which Porembski paid for with a scholarship, she recommends the dorms to NYC-bound Bobcats.
"It makes your life so much easier when you want to focus on your internship," Porembski said. "You don’t want to feel unsafe or stress about housing when you should be networking and working your butt off wherever you are interning."
The International House boasts that its 700 residents represent more than 100 counties, making it the most "culturally diverse student community in all of New York City." Located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, the I-House offers graduate students and interns private dormitory-style bedrooms, suites and apartments.
"I had a few friends stay at the I-House when we were interns in the spring of 20120," Armour said. "They had a cafeteria inside where they got snacks to bring to work."
Along with a dining room, the complex houses a fitness center, computer lab, gymnasium, pub and laundry room. There is also free wireless access, two television lounges and a community kitchen. Prices vary depending on room size, floor and view.
"The only problem is that it’s pretty far up, so probably not a place you want to stay if you know you’re going to have lots of early mornings at work or late nights," Armour said. "It’s not as safe as other locations downtown, but, that being said, my friends never ran into any issues."
Hoboken is a city, not a housing complex, but students shouldn’t overlook this gem of a town. According to Armour, Hoboken, New Jersey, is extremely close to NYC. A short ride on the PATH train, and "you’re in NYC in a matter of minutes."
"It is a cute little town. Safe, fun and clean. It is lined with bars and restaurants," Armour said. "I was over there with some girls from OU and we were talking about how it reminded us of Court Street."
According to the city website, Hoboken is a "densely-populated, pedestrian-friendly urban oasis with a wide variety of transportation options."
Another common housing option is subleasing, although this decision may require substantially more research than the aforementioned options. The work, however, can be worth it in the end. According to Nolan, Craigslist in NYC proved to be reliable for her boyfriend, despite the website’s reputation for illegitimacy.
"In addition to paying less, my boyfriend had a lot more space in his apartment, which is great if you plan on hosting guests. He was living in Park Slope in Brooklyn. It was a really cute neighborhood and felt safe, but it was very time consuming taking subways in and out of Manhattan, especially if you wanted to stay out late at night when certain trains don’t run," Nolan said.
Senior Brittany Balandis took a different approach. With one month until she was scheduled to move to the city, she decided that her last resort would be to call different hotels in NYC and ask about extended stay options. After learning that this option would be too expensive, a receptionist gave her the name of an intern from Michigan who was also looking for a place to stay. They decided to move into an apartment on the Upper East Side of New York.
"Unfortunately, renting an apartment in NYC for summer was much more expensive than I thought it would be. Not only did we have to pay rent, but also we had to pay for utilities, groceries, and laundry," Balandis said.
When looking for summer housing, Balandis stresses the importance of looking early.
"If your internship starts in June, you need to start looking in January," she said. "Try every outlet you possibly can. Reach out to old connections through social media, call different colleges around the area and keep checking apartment listings online."
Balandis added: "It’s a long, stressful process, but once it’s over and done with, I can guarantee you will have the best summer of your college career."