I’ve got less than a week left at my job. Less than a week before I take the exciting/terrifying leap into unemployment again. This is probably the twentieth time I’ve done this in my life. But this will be my first time doing it in New York City– a place that is brutally competitive while also teeming with opportunity.
First, some background on me:
Ever since entering the workforce at 15, I’ve followed a very distinct pattern. I start a new job and everything is great for a while. I learn, I grow, and I make some great friendships. But no matter how great the job is, sooner or later I start to get really restless. It’s like the walls are closing in on me and I have to find the secret tunnel to escape before they squash me into people puree.
It happened to me as a web app QA engineer. I was making good money and it just as the Great Recession was really starting to panic people. By all sane people’s logic I probably should have held on for dear life. Instead I decided to enroll in culinary school.
Once I worked in a prime office space overlooking an unspeakably beautiful golf course and lake scene. I had a lot of perks and was great friends with the executives. But sure enough, after about a year and a half the walls started moving and I took my cue. I ran away to start a shaved ice stand.
About a year and a half ago I was offered a job in NYC. It was a big move– all the way from Utah– but I decided to take the plunge. I’m glad I did! I learned, I grew, and I worked with some really awesome people. I went to lots of fancy events and got to watch thousands of people try our mind-blowing chocolate for the first time. But sure enough, a few months ago I just knew it was that time again.
So here I am today, a few days from unemployement. In New York City. And I’ll be honest, my savings situation ain’t great. I won’t have a lot of runway to sit around and debate on my true calling. I’m going to have to think on my feet and get some income while exploring the things that truly give me satisfaction in life.
I always have a million little ideas all swirling through my head, but who knows which ones will actually come true? Which ones are even GOOD? Here are some of my top contenders right now:
Bartending: I have long been fascinated by mixology and really want to get my foot in the door somewhere as a barback (entry level position that helps the bartender). I’m confident I could work my way behind the bar quickly, just like I worked up from the dish room to the kitchen of many restaurants. I LOVE craft cocktails and NYC has some of the best! ALSO, tips. If you’re in the right place, you can make rent in a weekend or less. Cons: being up until 6am.
Brewing: I love homebrewing and would be very curious to work at a brewery, distillery, winery etc. I’ve interned for my friends at Big Alice Brewery before and I love the atmosphere there. Serious science and chemistry is happening of course, but they always remind me that you should enjoy your work. They are always laughing at something, and even when things go wrong they can find humor in it. I love it. Cons: smelling like beer all the time?
Taskrabbit: I got tipped off to Taskrabbit by a friend in NYC. According to him, he is making more as a Tasker than he was from his full time job. The content is a lot more varied and interesting, too- in the past he has been a singing telegram, he helped a guy propose to his girlfriend, and all kinds of random stuff like that. I applied to be a Tasker and was surprised at all of the categories of things they need with- everything from web design to event planning to just standing in line for stuff. Cons: like freelancing, a lot of ups and downs in pay.
Coding: I’ve always been pretty handy with technology, but have stopped short of immersing myself in a programming language. I feel like that should change. It is one of the most valuable skills you can have, after all! Whether you’re working for the man as a salaried employee or creating your own little startup, your earning power is given a huge boost by knowing how to code. I also love that it would enhance my ability to CREATE. I’m looking into some three-month coding bootcamps right now, but there are also tons of online coding tutorials available. Cons: don’t want to be sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours every day. I would need to freelance or be PT or something.
Get published: a while ago I wrote a YA novel. I sent a few rounds of queries to agents and got one request for pages, but it didn’t ever go beyond that. Since NYC is the major publishing hub for the entire country, it would be a waste if I didn’t at least try to get it picked up while I’m here! Cons: lots of rejection and uncertain results. (But awesome if I pulled it off!)
Blue Steel: my friend and coworker has done a lot of model work. Lately she’s been pressing me to meet with some modeling agency people. She really took charge and helped me get a book of photos together (courtesy of our other coworker friend who also happens to be an amazing photographer!!) Modeling or anything like it has never on my radar, but I guess stranger things have happened! She says she thinks I have a chance. I definitely wouldn’t turn down the chance to travel somewhere awesome and get paid to have my picture taken! Cons: do I want to be the next Zoolander?
Shoot the moon: I always leave room for a totally unexpected option. Something really out of left field. Who knows who I might run into, or what inspiration could strike! Maybe I’ll go troll the financial district one night and just ask people about their lives. Maybe I’ll meet a real estate mogul who takes me under his wing and teaches me everything he knows. Maybe I’ll randomly decide to go intern at a university where they’re developing cold fusion. Who the hell knows.
Tennessee: This is my trump card. My closest family and a lot of my best friends are in Tennessee, and they’re always making the case for moving out there. It is appealing on many levels- I love the atmosphere in Nashville, I would have a lot of work connections through my family and friends there, and there is a TON of potential just to do my own thing. I feel like the environment there is very friendly to artisans and entrepreneurs. Honestly, one way or another, that’s eventually where I see myself ending up. It’s just a question of how and when. But best case scenario, I find something that gives me freedom of location so I can have a base in TN but come to play in the City whenever I want.
SO with all that said, here’s my plan of attack:
Take the next few months and put out all my feelers in NYC. Entertain every idea, follow every lead.
Document the above experiences for the benefit of others.
By the time my apartment lease is up in September, decide once and for all whether I will stay for another term or go for greener pastures.
I figure whatever happens, at the very least it will make a good story! I’ll keep you updated with snippets on each of my adventures in finding a job, making money, and finding purpose here in the City. (Don’t worry, the rest of my posts will likely be much shorter! Probably.)