Do I rearrange my life around family?
September 11, 2011 1:13 AM   Subscribe

Taking the next stage of my life after college.


I'm going to be graduating with a bachelors this December. I am attempting to make plans for my life as for what I am going to do next year and it is becoming really complicated. There are so many things that I want to do. It is a matter now how I am going to make a decision because these jobs and internships I want to do require a great length of time. 6 months to a year. My need and time that I need to move/relocate is entirely dependent on if I am hired by these agencies.

Here are my two main ideas. My goal is to get job experience in fields that I am interested in. It may or may not relates to my future career right at this moment.

My first idea is to move overseas. How do I do that? Well, I can teach English. Most positions require a one year commitment. Great! Somewhere in Asia. Sounds like a plan.

Second, I am interested in these internships that have to do with radio, something entirely out of my actual degree but I am passionate documentary journalism. They are in New York. I live on the west coast. One internship will pay 3,000 dollars. Another will only pay $55 dollars for lunch and transportation fees in state... I am broke out of my mind and I don't think I would be able to move to another state with such little money right now. So, there is stress on finding a job in another state if I do get accepted to participate.

At the same time, my family is making plans. My brother is living in France for other reasons for a significant length of time (one year). Mom and dad are going to want to see and meet with him there during the summer. I want to see my brother but at the same time it conflicts with what I want to do next year. I want to visit him. I don't see how I can make any of these possible commitments next year if I am going to see him since everything conflicts.

My question is then, do I put of my plans behind for now so that I can make more money to move out of state or to help transition better as I go overseas to teach English somewhere? Do I go take a job here in my home state and save up until then? Am I really putting my life on hold to see my brother like that? Why would I be putting my life on hold like that? Should I? I'm lost.

I would appreciate any advice regarding this. Thank you for reading.
posted by mind2body to Work & Money (16 answers total)
Is it $55 per day?
posted by parmanparman at 2:19 AM on September 11, 2011

I worked in radio for three years after college, mainly in the North East and England. I would recommend that you do what you can to go to New York and don't go to France if you can't afford it. Frankly, landing two internships is great. If you can swing a way to do both either concurrently or back-to-back, you will be in a very good position when you are ready to go freelance because you can presumably sell to both places, which should be able to let you stay in NYC for as long as you want.

Don't go overseas to teach. Go overseas to a country you would like to do reporting in and teach English for only as long as you can't find a freelance set up that pays you money. Internships first, job second, life last.
posted by parmanparman at 2:30 AM on September 11, 2011

I'll start here:

Another will only pay $55 dollars for lunch and transportation fees in state...

This sounds like an especially poor idea. A basically unpaid internship in an area outside what your degree is in (assuming it has anything to do with your eventual career goals) which would require you to relocate cross-country. And which, if it's anything at all like a typical internship, offers no guarantee for the future. Not to mention the fact that any internship which is unpaid, isn't tied to your studies in some way, doesn't correlate to your long term goals, and would require a six month commitment sounds like a bad deal, period.

Especially considering the fact that you apparently have other prospects.

Now to somewhat change subjects, you have two ideas that are fairly contradictory:

My first idea is to move overseas. How do I do that? Well, I can teach English. Most positions require a one year commitment. Great! Somewhere in Asia. Sounds like a plan.


... I am broke out of my mind and I don't think I would be able to move to another state with such little money right now.

You do understand that it costs more to move overseas than it does to move between states, right? Even if there's a job for you on the other end. I understand that some ESL contracts provide (or maybe reimburse - you should verify this) relocation costs, but at the end of the day it's not free. Conversely with a little finagling you could move from the west coast to New York for the price of a one way plane ticket.

I fail to see how any of these potential plans conflict with the possibility of being invited along on a vacation to France. Paris is a 6-hour flight from New York; you could conceivably go for a long weekend if you wanted to. It's a longer flight from Asia and you won't have the same predictable time off, but France is probably not entirely out of the question depending on where you go and what your pay and schedule are like.

If it's a question of being able to afford to pay your own way to France - welcome to adulthood. If you can't afford a trip to France, then you just can't. It's a shame to miss an opportunity, but short of some fourth option you haven't mentioned, I don't see any way around that.
posted by Sara C. at 3:11 AM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you haven't seen your brother in 15 years and he is shipping off to mine space ore on Mars immediately after his year in France, then yes, by all means, go visit him. Otherwise, focus on the career business first. It's not selfish; it's prudent. But like Sara C said, not sure why you can't do both.

In short, focus on the paid internship. Or some other substantive work that you think will help shrink the possibility that you will be unemployed 5 years from now.
posted by jng at 3:41 AM on September 11, 2011

I am confused by the above answers. Living in New York is insanely expensive. It cannot be done for 3k (for 6mths to a year unless your rent is <>
Teaching overseas however is a different story. I taught in S.Korea (admittedly years ago) and although you have to front the money for the flight, it was immediately reimbursed (one direction, the other direction you have to fulfill your year contract to receive it). Housing was paid for, you were paid (in cash!) every month, and you could also make (an additional) approx $50/hr teaching private lessons. It is not 'free' but the only thing you actually had to pay for was your flight (which I just said was reimbursed). I left before the year was up to travel around Asia (with my earnings and with a friend) so I missed out on the second leg being reimbursed but it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

I have now worked in New York for years and even with a reasonably paid job, it is very hard to get ahead and to have much disposable income. I seriously cannot fathom how someone can arrive and live off the internship stipends without an alternate/additional form of income or incurring debt.

France, well, that's great your brother is there. To put your plans on hold for a year to go and visit him seems very extreme to me. You can go to France alone later and compare stories or your parents may help you with your ticket if you go as a 'family trip' later. Do not delay your own life to spend one week in his with him!
posted by bquarters at 3:50 AM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

(what happened in second sentence? I said if 'rent is less than $500 and/or you don't eat much, unless I am missing something')
posted by bquarters at 3:52 AM on September 11, 2011

Most internships are not full time. It's conceivable that mind2body could get a part time job to pay for the basics and use the $3000 stipend to get set up.

Even the $55/day internship would be doable with a little ingenuity. That said, I don't think that internship is worth what it would take to survive in New York until those first crucial paychecks started showing up.
posted by Sara C. at 4:32 AM on September 11, 2011

Are your parents willing to finance this stage of your life at all?

Because if they're not, you need to go with an option that keeps a roof over your head, and some food in your stomach.

That's either one of the internships plus a part time job, or getting an ESL school to pay for your flight in exchange for your bonded labor.

Sorry, but Sara C's right. Lack of money limiting your choices is likely to be what this stage of your life is going to be about.
posted by Ahab at 5:51 AM on September 11, 2011

i would try to find a job first and if that doesn't work, then take the internship that is of most interest and benefit to you. as sara c said, most of these internships aren't full-time and even if they are, you could always get a part-time job.

think about how much you like your home state, if you like it a lot then apply to a variety of jobs in state, but otherwise, don't settle and move to a different state that you've always wanted to live in.

i don't think the idea of moving overseas to teach english would be the right move for you. i say that because you don't seem that interested in teaching english, based on your post, it only seems like a good option to you because you would get to live in asia and the commitment is only for one year.

another thing, you seem much more passionate about radio in comparison to teaching english.
you said that radio is different from your degree, but that doesn't matter too much because most people get jobs that don't relate to their degree anyways.

regardless of where you end up living, save up a certain amount of cash so that you have
a safety net. i'm living on my own right now (although i'm still in university), and that's something that i think is very necessary to have.

i wouldn't put my life on hold for someone else, i realize that makes me sound selfish but
it is your life and as wonderful as it would be to see your brother, there will be other
times when the family will re-unite. but if you really want to see him in france then take comfort knowing that you are entitled to vacation days if you land a job.
posted by sincerely-s at 6:06 AM on September 11, 2011

ugh, please ignore the awkward spacing between my sentences and each line.
posted by sincerely-s at 6:07 AM on September 11, 2011

I would emigrate to your brothers couch. Stalk for a job, any job, and start there.
posted by JohnR at 6:22 AM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

It doesn't sound like you have any definite job offers in hand, just some things that you're thinking of applying for. If that's the case, start applying for everything you think you might be qualified for. You may be surprised to find out how competitive unpaid internships and overseas English teaching positions actually are. Apply for jobs that are a little outside what you think you're interested in right now. Going to more job interviews can't hurt anything and you may find out about an opportunity that you never knew existed.
Have you thought about grad school (in the US or overseas)? Depending on your field you may be able to find research grants or assistantships that pay your tuition and part of your expenses. Grad students on assistantships usually have to work during the summer but they have more flexibility to take a short trip.
Ask your question again in November or December when you have offers in hand and a better picture of what your options actually are.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 6:45 AM on September 11, 2011

Radio docs, or web docs, are being produced all over the place. Will the internship in NYC teach you any skills that will help you get a real job in this field--Protools, audio recording, editing, etc? If you're not going to increase your skill set, you might want to either take classes and work part-time so you have those skills.
Teaching overseas seems like a detour--you might as well go to France.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:01 AM on September 11, 2011

Disclaimer: I have read your previous question, and am biased in favor of polynesian cultural anthropology being awesome.

As I think has been universally suggested, the business with visiting your brother in France is a distraction. I understand wanting to see him, but you're graduating in December and your folks are visiting him next summer sometime. What are you going to do in the interim, flip burgers? If you can fit a Jan - June internship in beforehand, and your folks are paying for the trip to France, then swell, but don't put your life on hold. France is real nice, but it'll be real nice in a few years time, too.

Are you TEFL certified? Can you afford to get certified? I have the impression that even when it's not required, all other things being equal, they'd pick the certified instructors over non-. I can see an advantage to getting your TEFL certificate in France, where you'd have the opportunity to improve your French via immersion, if you're looking to teach English in Vietnam or an Overseas Territory. No chance of borrowing (and I do mean borrowing... write up a contract and abide by it) the necessary grubstake from the folks?

If you wind up teaching, depending on where it is, and what the expat community's like, you may be able to hook into odd RTVF/documentary/reportage work. Certainly when I lived abroad, I had TEFLy friends who found odd jobs based largely on just their being American or British and having a perfect command of English — from feature-writing and proofing for the local English language magazines and newspapers, to appearing as extras in colonial-era soap operas. A RadioLab internship it's not, but there are opportunities that would be broadening in the direction you're interested in.
posted by mumkin at 11:14 AM on September 11, 2011

A suggestion on a small point in the OP's question. He says he wants to "see" his brother, and later he says he wants to visit him. Couldn't the former be addressed with 2 webcams and an internet connection, or if that's not possible on both ends, a video blog either posted on-line or snail mailed on DVDs at irregular intervals? Just a thought.
posted by forthright at 12:04 PM on September 11, 2011

re martiniX's bellbottoms - I responded above as if you already have secured these opportunities, or at least as if you have a very reasonable expectation that they are real options for you. The advice to follow EVERY lead is very good advice.

I was in a similar position to yours upon finishing college when a somewhat out-of-left-field job offer came my way. That opportunity is what led to the career I have now. I suppose I'd be equally happy now if I'd declined it in favor of grad school or an ESL job (my two notions of what I'd like to do post-college at that time), and who knows where those paths would have taken me. But they don't hand out prizes for doing exactly what you thought you'd be doing a couple years out of school.

Planning is good, but take the job/internship you get offered. Don't hold out for some hypothetical better offer with no guarantees it will ever come.
posted by Sara C. at 1:59 PM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

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