School or Work?
July 31, 2011 10:17 PM   Subscribe

University student unsure of whether or not I should spend an extra semester in school or work full-time to save up for my future in the music industry and life in a new city.

What would you do?

I am a 20 year old university student. I am currently pursuing Speech Communication as my major, English as my minor, and Intercultural Communication and Public and Digital Communication as my two concentrations for my major. The fall term is my final semester (as of right now); however, I intend on staying in this city until August of 2012. I am undecided about whether or not I want to take the two additional courses in the winter term (January-April) because I would love to have a third concentration (my favourite area of communication) which is interpersonal and organizational communication.

The only problem is that I’m unsure if I should stay in school for the additional term, spend approximately $1000-1500 and work less hours because I’ll have other priorities such as school which will prevent me from picking up many hours.

My plans are to obtain my degree, work approximately 40 or more hours and save up money to move to a new city. I want to have a communications related role in the music industry. My biggest fear is "failing" and having to return back to my childhood home which is why I want to be prepared. I make $15 an hour and can work 40 or more hours a week.

I’m not sure if this will make a huge difference, but I have also done a two week internship in Toronto at a music record label in the summer of 2010. More recently, I have obtained a volunteer position that’s in relation to marketing and audience engagement at a music-related organization in my current college town. I’m hoping that this position will last until august of 2012.

My questions:
-What would you personally do in this situation? Would you take the two extra courses during the winter term even if it meant picking up less hours?
-Note: I would still be able to work approximately 30-40 hours a week, but not more than
40 hours a week.

-How much should I save up when moving to a new city? I am unsure of where I want to live; however, I want the city to be big and either in Canada or America.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What does your research tell you about the availability of paid communications positions in the music industry? Is there a chance that you would have to take an underpaid or unpaid internship?

In what cities are these positions available? Narrowing down your options will help you do research. I can give you advice about NYC but I know nothing about, say, Austin.

Are you a citizen of the United States? If not, will you be able to work here legally? If you will need time to deal with immigration issues, or if you will need to find a job to sponsor you, it will take much longer to find paying work.

How will you pay for health care in the US, if it's needed?

How much are your parents/family willing to contribute?
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:45 PM on July 31, 2011

I am not too sure, but I frequently visit and I wouldn't be surprised if I had to take an underpaid or unpaid internship after university because everyone has to start from somewhere even if it's not an ideal position. I am hoping that my experience and education will help me at least obtain a job in the music industry even if it doesn't come with a high salary.

For the most part, it seems like these positions are in New York and Toronto more than the rest of the cities. I am unfamiliar with the music scenes in each city, so my intentions are to apply to different jobs in various cities and see which companies I receive an offer from. Are you involved in the music industry in NYC? If so, any words of advice when starting out?

No, I'm not a citizen of the United States. But, I would like to live in America although I know that there are many immigration issues and other factors such as health care to consider before moving there.

My parents are not willing to contribute any money after I graduate. I completely understand and do not want them to contribute anything anyways. I want to be financially independent starting August 2012. As of right now, I pay for grocceries, the cell phone bill, transportation, cable, tuition, etc... The only thing they pay for is my rent.
posted by sincerely-s at 11:16 PM on July 31, 2011

Ah! I know a little about the music industry but second-hand and more on the performance side and what I know isn't really inspiring, so I'll just speak to the budgetary issues.

More money is better in NYC. Always, always, always come with more money. The two important things that make NYC tolerable are money and/or friends and you have no friends here yet. I really cannot emphasize enough how much easier your life can be with an extra $1000 (or even $100).

Use PadMapper to get an idea of how expensive apartments are in various neighborhoods. If you see a place that appeals to you, put it in google maps for directions to a potential workplace to see how long the commute is. It gives a decent estimate.

Chances are that you will be sharing an apartment with roommates. It might be hard to find a place if you're coming from out of town, so you'll have to budget for a hostel or other accommodation to live in while you're looking for roommates.

If you find a furnished place (which is what my partner and I both did when we originally moved here) you won't have to buy a bed or desk. If you find an unfurnished place, you should either get an estimate from the Ikea website for what you want to have, or expect to take time after you move to find cheap furniture here (but be wary of bedbugs...)

My biggest fear upon moving to NYC would be spending years doing boring, low-paying work with a long commute and no savings or experience to show for it. Compared to that, moving home might not be such a bad deal.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:52 PM on July 31, 2011

It seems like you should plan to begin in a Canadian city, just because so many practical considerations will be made easier by that -- I take it you are in Canada now? No immigration hassle (such as getting a work permit through your job and then being tied to that one job in order to stay in the country), no fear of losing health insurance, lower transportation costs to visit family and friends, lower moving costs, not having to establish new bank accounts etc. It will be harder, cost a lot more and put you in a more vulnerable position to move to the US right away.

Move to a major Canadian city, build work experience and savings in Canada for a few years before trying to move to the US, and all these issues will be easier to handle.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:22 PM on August 1, 2011

And I think I would recommend finishing your degree quickly, as that will give you more flexibility. The only reason not to do this would be if you have some benefits (like better insurance or cheaper housing) that are attached to retaining your student status, or if you need a course that is only offered in the spring term. (Maybe I'm misreading - was the latter your reason for maybe postponing?)
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:25 PM on August 1, 2011

How much to save up for a move. I think I would want to save at least enough for two months. If I didn't have a job lined up, I might want to save more. So you'd want to save at least:

-money for transportation for yourself and your possessions to new city.

-money to rent a suitable apartment (check prices on craigslist or similar) - you'll often have to pay extra up front, so figure on saving up at least 4x the monthly rent.

-money for transit (car+insurance+maintenance+fuel+parking? public transit?) for the first two months you're there.

-money to buy at least a week's worth of work clothes, if you don't have them.

-money for 2 months of groceries.

-money for transitional short-term insurance while waiting for the provinical health insurance to catch up with you - often there is a gap of a few months for you to establish residency, and there is "gap insurance" that you can buy to fill that space. This depends what province you're moving to, so check the provincial health insurance website.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:35 PM on August 1, 2011

- and of course money for your other bills! Utilities, phone, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:37 PM on August 1, 2011

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