So, how do I begin this?

The past month has been going fast. Two weeks of finals followed by two weeks of road trip to the Colorado Plateau area (I will write about it in another post), then I moved to New York City for my internship. It has been a crazy month for me with a lot of travelling. Overall, it was amazing. So, in this post I will tell my experience applying for this internship and my first experience in New York City.

Last semester, I was a junior. I spent the last two summers working on campus as Technology Assistant for Science Summer Splash Camp at Science in Motion, where I also work part time during school year. They paid me very well but as a rising senior, I realized I need something else.

So, I applied to a bunch of internship programs and didn’t hear back from any except PVH. I got a phone interview and few days later I received the rejection email. When I came back school, I found an announcement about Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP). Juniata College is the newest member and I found this program a better fit for me. The application process was more difficult in my opinion because I had to write two separate essays (instead of just sending a resume and cover letter). Few weeks later I was accepted and moved on to the next round.

The interviewing process was very long. There are two phone interviews (for me it was four). After being accepted through Juniata, I had a phone interview with Amy Dehart from SHECP to discuss about my placement. My first choice was Code Interactive in New York City and my second choice was Legal Aid Society of Cleveland in Cleveland, OH. One week after the first phone call, I was placed at Legal Aid in Cleveland. Two days later they called me and the interview went very well, except the fact that they wanted me to start on May 22nd which was impossible at that time because my Remote Field Course class ends on May 31st. Therefore, Amy wrote me an email telling me she needed another phone interview and I need to come up with other choices. Few days later she called me.

During the second interview, I asked Amy if Code Interactive was filled or not and she said there was something weird with that site and they no longer accept interns, so I must change my first choice to something else. I went over the list of placements again and I found a new program: Consumer Protection Internship at New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). Surprisingly, this is also the first time NYLAG participates with SHECP so they posted on SHECP website much later than other programs, especially when most people already got their placements.

I put NYLAG as my first choice. Few days later I received the placement email from Amy, followed by a phone interview with the Director of Consumer Protection Unit at NYLAG. She wanted to make sure that I’m comfortable with the tasks given at NYLAG since I’m an undergrad intern. I was very nervous since I wasn’t political science major or anything related, so I accepted everything I was offered. Few days later, I received the confirmation letter from Amy. To me, it was amazing to be accepted to an organization like this. Everything seems fabulous: the office is downtown Manhattan near Wall Street, high reputation, and amazing reviews on Glassdoor about the attorneys here. But, working here is another story which I will write in another post.

Before the internship begins, I attended a conference held at Marymount University in Washington, D.C. Basically, this conference is just for everyone to meet and to know what to expect during the internship. At this conference, I met with my cohort. New York City group has 12 people including me: 4 guys, 8 girls. They were from other colleges: Middlebury, Washington & Lee, Centre… One of them also has the same internship with me at NYLAG.

All twelve of us get along very well. We were very concerned with one condition of this internship which is that we only have $14.00 to spend a day for food. Apparently $14.00 for me is enough (How to live under $14.00/day will be another post). SHECP really enforces this condition because they want us to cook together, eat together, and go out together. Some people also interpret this as the way they want us to experience how to live under poverty (which somehow works).

On Sunday morning, we left Marymount University. SHECP arranged a shuttle for us to Union Station from where we took a bus to New York City. Our first problem in New York is how to go to our dorm (which is in Brooklyn). We planned to get Uber because some people had very large luggage. But, as soon as we arrived to Manhattan, some of us were concerned with the Uber price which was about $70.00 for 2 people at least since we have a lot of luggage. At the end, we gave up on Uber and took the train instead. I bought the unlimited ticket because I also took the train to work so it didn’t cost me much (and SHECP also gave me some money for transportation).

I must say the train was annoying. The fact that once you bring big suitcases on the train with you will make everyone think you are tourists (which is partially true). And of course, street performers will approach you and you are compelled to give them some money. In my case, I rarely carry cash with me so I felt bad if I don’t have anything to give them. On the train, there was an old man singing to one of us. Although it was very funny, I felt I’m lucky because he didn’t sing to me. If so, I would embarrass myself since I don’t have anything to give him.

The train was about 50 minutes or so. We got off at the last stop in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The place we stay at is at 1 Kenilworth Place. It’s a dorm for Brooklyn College. It’s actually not a part of Brooklyn College and ran by someone else. We still have RA and similar regulations though.

The dorm was pretty nice. They put me and Chris in the same suite. Each of us has our own room and share a kitchen. Some girls were put in a triple. We also have a big kitchen in the basement which is also free to use. However, the oven was broken after one week we got there and we are still waiting for it to be fixed. In the meantime, we are using a hot plate which was provided for each suite. Overall, I have no problem with food.

Housing and transportation seem to be convenient for me at least since NYLAG is in Financial District. Some of us work in Bronx so that would be about three hours travelling every day. If I’m not working at NYLAG, probably I will hate this place so much.

My first week at NYLAG was wonderful. I like this place a lot. But, it’s still a legal firm and the work here is so different from what I’ve been used to. In the next post, I will write about my job here.

Have a nice summer guys,





Kien LeComment