College Connect: Taking a semester off – a risky proposition

Posted By sabew

By Candace Sautman, University of Missouri

This semester, I decided to not go to college, and gain valuable work experience in New York City. I had interned here over the summer, and a magazine editor I met offered me the great chance to intern this semester – though no pay, which is common. Since the summer job was paid, I did have some savings, but as it turns out, not enough.

If you think Devil Wears Prada, you’ll know what industry I’m working in. And, like the movie, it’s tough work, but with rewards. While I mostly love what I do, I’ve found it extremely expensive to live here, and I’ve struggled to make ends meet.

This week I had to miss two days of work because I didn’t have enough money to get into the city. Staying in Montclair, New Jersey, I have to commute to the city everyday and it costs about $7.50 each way. Once I actually get into the city, the train ride is $2.25 each way, rounding my daily costs to about $20 a day and $100 a week.

As an unpaid intern, I’m finding it very difficult to make it day by day even though I have free housing. The woman I stay with is so generous that she also buys me groceries. I’m seriously at the end of my rope and apparently so is she. Back in June, she was laid off from her job. She is a single parent of two, and has been looking for work, but like many others, she’s been unsuccessful.

Yesterday, she gave me money to go into the city and today she offered me her last $9 even though her unemployment check has yet to come in to the mail. It was a nice gesture, but unfortunately the $9 was only enough for me to get in to the city, not a way back so I didn’t want to chance it. Especially considering I only have about $5 in my bank account, I decided it was best not to go into work.

I emailed into work to let my bosses know, but they never got back to me. I know they are not very pleased about all of this, but there’s not much I can do. I’ve been trying to get my dad to help me out, but he’s the least concerned. He wants me to take full responsibility and provide for myself since I decided to follow through with coming to New York, a decision he didn’t fully support from the beginning.

Since I wasn’t getting through to my dad, the woman I live with proposed calling my dad herself. She said she was hoping to help my dad see the big picture from a parent’s perspective. The talk went better than I expected. I guess sometimes you need someone to go to bat for you.

More about that in my next blog.

Candace Sautman is a senior at the University of Missouri. She’s working at an unpaid internship in New York City this semester to gain valuable work experience she hopes would land her a better job.

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