If there’s one word I’d use to describe the New York trip, it would be “whirlwind.” From the time your plane lands to the moment you’re checking out from the Roosevelt, your schedule will be packed with new experiences and moments you’ve only ever imagined. If you do just a few simple things to prepare, you can make the most of the experience and stay sane.
During my senior year, I helped organize the trip for all my classmates, and while this extra responsibility added a layer of complication to my personal schedule, it meant I had to learn how to juggle it all — and fast! Here are a few tips that helped me manage the day-to-day chaos and alleviate some of the stress of this adrenaline-fueled experience.
Know your schedule was handcrafted for you:
Finding out which places you’re visiting for Creative Week has the same energy as the scene in teen romcoms where they post the cast list for the spring musical. When you find out you’re not going to what our program considers *the big dogs,* it feels like you didn’t get the role for which you auditioned. Don’t fret, it’s not a personal affront!! Your schedule was designed for you to get a breadth of experiences/connections/learnings. And don’t knock a place until you try it.
The place you least expect to love could be your new favorite agency. Or, like me, you might even end up working at the one you weren’t so sure about. The day before we left for the trip, I had an agency called Rokkan put on my agenda—replacing another visit I was highly anticipating. I accepted the change as “meant to be” and didn’t let it sour my trip. I ended up getting to experience a new agency, and the people selecting interns at Rokkan remembered me from the trip.
Pro Tip: The smaller visits actually allow for more opportunities to network than the ones with big crowds.
Learn how to navigate Google Calendar—it will become your saving grace:
I’m a Google Suite stan. My whole college career would’ve been awash without it, but for that week, in particular, it proved invaluable. Once you know where you’re going, populate the calendar with the time* and correct address**. Add in your flight information and any reservations you’ve locked down for the week.
This makes sure everything is in one place, feels more manageable, and allows you to see where you have time to network or explore. For me, knowing all the details of my visits allowed me to worry less about how to get to destinations and focus more on where I was headed.
Pro Tip: *Make sure to schedule in Eastern Standard Time and **double-check addresses on agency websites (sometimes Google Maps doesn’t have the most up-to-date location).
Look at your newly created schedule and try to set up a few meetings:
While meetings pop up for the industry folks you’re talking to, getting a semi-solid time on their calendar will at least put you on their radar. While your schedule feels hectic, the important thing is to be flexible with the professionals you’re reaching out to. If you’re nervous about contacting someone, use Madi McCallum’s great template for “cold” emails.
Your best bet is to offer up time windows, like “Would you be able to meet up around lunchtime? My schedule is clear from 12–2pm” … with time on either side for you to get where you need to go next. You don’t want them to choose 1:30pm if you have to be somewhere else at 2pm.
Evenings for drinks are also an option. However, chances are you’ll have those full of events and your contacts will be tired from a full day of work.
Pro Tip: Bring a stack of thank you cards and stamps on the trip so you can write a note just after you finish your meet-up and pop it in the nearest mailbox (yes those do still exist).
Show up early. No, really. Get there early:
While it might seem a little dramatic, it’s true that one person showing up a few minutes late can throw off a whole group. It makes the school look ill-prepared and you look foolish (especially if you’re floating in at 10:07 with an iced coffee…ahem).
Arriving early not only helps the flow of the visit, it makes sure you’re not running in all schvitzy and out of breath. And it gives you those 10 to 15 extra minutes to feel prepared to listen. The faster and smoother the check-in process goes, the more time you get to spend in the agency; it may even grant you those five minutes to talk to that person whose work you’ve always admired.
Pro Tip: Use Google Maps’ “Arrive By” feature to determine when you need to skedaddle to Grand Central from The Roosevelt.
Treat this as a work trip, but also enjoy your surroundings:
The main goals of UONYC are 1) to give yourself an inside look into agency life 2) expand your network. These things will be your biggest assets when applying for jobs and figuring out what’s next. Yet, it also happens in NEW YORK CITY — the cultural and creative capital of the United States!
See a Broadway show!
Explore the cobbled streets of SoHo!
Take a sunset walk in Central Park!
Look quizzically at The Whitney’s contemporary art!
Eat that ever-so-complicated milkshake you’ve only seen on Instagram!
Do touristy things with no shame and seek out the underground gems. Even if you don’t ever see yourself working in Manhattan, it’s still a place full of magnificent sights.
Pro Tip: Bring your Student ID and you might get discounts at museums and landmarks!
Make sure you’re scheduling “me” time, too:
For introverts and extroverts alike, New York City can be a lot to process. Finding time to yourself might feel impossible with three other roommates and 100+ fellow students, but I’d encourage you to take at least 30 minutes a day alone to check in with how you’re feeling.
Maybe instead of juggling a whole group, try an activity or two solo. During my second visit, I learned that walking to my morning coffee alone gave me the time I needed to ground myself for the day and review what was up next. This reflection space also gives you a chance to see New York beyond the limited lens of the trip.
Pro Tip: While Midtown (where The Roosevelt is located) might not be the most peaceful place in the city, Bryant Park and The New York Public Library are just a few blocks south if you need a breather.
Plan for things to change or go a little topsy-turvy:
Despite meticulous planning, you will hit roadblocks on the trip — phones will die, you’ll go uptown when you meant downtown, Pizza Rat will uprise with his friends and take over the MTA. Fear not, sweet ducklings, life happens.
Remember how I said to keep an extra 15 minutes to get where you were going? That’s your grace period to take a deep breath, figure out your surroundings, and ask for help if you need it. You’ll survive at least one semi-stressful debacle, but don’t let it become something that destroys your whole outlook on the trip or New York. If anything, it can become a great post-trip anecdote — like, letting your metro card flutter onto the tracks five minutes after purchasing it or going on a midnight walk in Times’ Square to almost get hit by a trash bag hurled by one drunk man at another.
Pro Tip: Bring a portable charger. It’s a game changer—never fear the “low battery mode” while meandering around this strange, new city.
Yes, your trip will be a whirlwind. Hopefully, it can be a well-planned and prepared whirlwind where you get the most of what New York City has to offer in the short time that you have to experience it. It’s worth the extra preparation to save a little stress in the moment, trust me.