Should I make the move to NY? Unique situation - advice appreciated.
February 29, 2012 3:56 PM   Subscribe

25-year-old SoCal native looking to make the move to NYC. Writing background with freelance web/graphic design experience, would like to work in graphic/web design or creative direction. Kind of a unique situation (read on) - any advice is much appreciated. Should I do it?

So, this story is kind of complicated. I'll try to simplify it as much as possible, in the hopes of getting some honest advice (and hopefully words of encouragement!)

In 2010, my mother and my best friend passed away tragically (in unrelated incidents.) I was extremely unhappy at my job as a project manager at a small ad agency (overworked and overwhelmed), and, while I was still able to freelance as a journalist for local publications, needed an out to help myself heal. Anyway, I saved up diligently for about a year, and traveled around for the past year as a model (yes, as in the runway variety. I feel ridiculous even typing this, but it's a great way to see the world for free - I lived in 5 different countries on a dime).

Now, I'm finally home, and ready to leave my small hometown for my favorite city in the world and start a real career in New York. I lived there for about 6 months when I was 20, made great friends, and would love to return. I have around $17,000 saved up for the move, and a place to stay for free the first month or so. I'm also totally fine with temping and/or waitressing to make ends meet if I need to. But, still, I'm terrified to actually make the move and re-enter "real life."

I have a very strong writing portfolio (about 3 years of clips built up) and great references, but would like to pursue something in advertising or new media, preferably in art direction or creative direction. My long-term goal is to start my own agency that caters exclusively to non-profits. My plan when I arrive is either to seek a paid internship (or unpaid, if it's great enough) and do temp work on the side, or just pursue something full-time, if I'm well-qualified. I adore graphic design and web design and have an extensive portfolio of spec work, but no solid experience in the field except for a few friends I've worked for.

My questions are these:

A) Is the amount I have saved reasonable to make a cross-country move to the most expensive city in the world?

B) Any job-seeking advice for someone relocating?

C) How do I explain my one-year resume gap without sounding like a total airhead? The experiences I had completely changed who I am as a person (think learning to live with 13 teenage Russians in a 3-bedroom apartment in Beijing), and, in my opinion, a better employee, but I still don't know how to frame this situation to make it sound marketable. I've kept a travel blog and kept freelancing during my time abroad, plus, I want to work in a creative field, so an interesting backstory is sometimes an asset. I'm highly Googleable (unique name), so lying about "studying abroad" is out of the question.

Long-winded, but any help is greatly appreciated! My anxiety about the move is staggering right now, but I know it's something I must do for myself. Thanks in advance.
posted by shotinthedark to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know if I have advice on the rest of it, but listen: you weren't out of work while you were traveling. You were modeling. There is possibly no city in the world that understands that modeling is a real job better than New York. I don't think it will make you sound like an airhead to say, "I spent last year working internationally as a model, while also doing a great deal of freelance-writing," especially since you are clearly NOT an airhead, and won't come across as one in general. I'd be honest and not worry about it. Most people in creative professions will think this is interesting.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:02 PM on February 29, 2012

[Also: sincere condolences on the loss of your mother, and your friend. Good luck with your move!]
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:03 PM on February 29, 2012

C) You sound like the opposite of an airhead - going out and getting yourself a bunch of life and cultural experience (and figuring out a way to support yourself while doing so) is hugely impressive, and should be an asset in the design/writing fields. If you describe it the way you do here in your cover letter, I don't see the 'model' part of things hurting at all (I'm guessing that's what you're worried about).
posted by ella wren at 4:04 PM on February 29, 2012

I'm not sure I understand. Modeling is a job just like being a lawyer or a financial analyst or a doctor is a job. Why do you say you have a resume gap?

You traveled globally, being a model. You were exposed to many different cultures, met many different people, dealt with a lot of travel and stress. Presumably you picked up some language skills? There are lots of ways to frame having traveled globally, especially for someone who is young.

And, yes, NYC, especially in its creative industries, is used to hiring former models.
posted by dfriedman at 4:09 PM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice and votes of confidence so far, everyone. It's more my nagging insecurities and the Greek chorus of "mature, responsible adults" in my life that are dragging me down more than anything else.

Yep, I can speak fluent Spanish (worked 5 months in Mexico and 3 in Spain) now, so that's a plus. Can also deal with a wide, wide variety of people and culture.

Now - on to the job-seeking advice. What do I need to know about moving to NY?

Thanks again!
posted by shotinthedark at 6:19 PM on February 29, 2012

I work in NY advertising and we always need creatives. PM me...
posted by sweetkid at 7:08 PM on February 29, 2012

« Older Do I do anything?   |   I'd like to be nicer Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.