1-2 month ~plan~
March 29, 2013 10:50 AM   Subscribe

I have some money saved up and I want to move to a new city for a couple of months and just volunteer/intern/work there before I go back to school for my last semester in the fall. Can you give me some advice about where might be best to go and what ideas are more reasonable than others?

OK so I will have about $1800 saved up and that would be enough, afaik, for maybe about a month in NYC or perhaps two months elsewhere. I am looking for summer internships and volunteer ops in NYC, Portland, ME, Boston/western MA, and perhaps some other places in New England. That is the general area I'm interested in, I currently live in VA and transportation cost is a bit of an issue. Don't want to use up all my $$$ on that.

I have already applied to a couple of internships as a computer programmer, although my skills are minimal and I mostly just want training (see last few posts...) I would also really like working at a children's museum, science museum, or in theater production, specifically audio (my last job was at a science museum, and I've volunteered at a theater). I would also consider working in an LGBT center, although I feel that my ~future~ is either in some type of computer programming or audio production. (And I just really want to work at a museum again...)

So basically, what might be some cities good for this? I will only be there for 1-2 months, and that is my worry. No one's gonna want some out-of-state person coming in for two months. I suspect even getting a volunteering position could be pretty tough. I'm not really counting on NYC, having lived/failed there already. I feel like Portland, ME could be good? I know they have a children's museum. I'm also concerned about transportation, because I don't have a car. So western MA might be out.

Thanks for any advice!
posted by lhude sing cuccu to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend teaming up with a nationally known organization and working with them. They can arrange for housing, etc, and as a prospective employer, I'd be impressed that you had spent a month or so with Habitat for Humanity or Doctors Without Borders. If you must, here's a link to the Museum of Natural History.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:56 AM on March 29, 2013

You could apply to App Academy if you want to improve your programming skills.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:02 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would sort by the museums you're most interested in and email asking about internships/volunteer opportunities in general, simply explaining that you expect to "be in the area" for 2 months this summer and hope to contribute your time to a worthy cause. That's essentially true in your case for all of the northeast, and you can just work your way down the list until you have both an opportunity and a city you like.

I'm pretty dubious about programming opportunities working out--2 month programming internships are either for recruitment or they're basically gifts/advertising/community involvement deals. It is rare for a student programming project's actual code to be worth the time of getting you up to speed on it, although I can imagine very small organizations needing, like, Wordpress upgrades.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:06 AM on March 29, 2013

If you have some low-level web design/development skills (like you can work within a CMS, make tweaks to an image with PhotoShop, etc.), you might see if you can do a volunteer stint or internship with a public radio station's website in the area you ultimately choose. Because they are nonprofit, there are fewer legal issues with public radio stations taking unpaid interns than when for-profit organizations do the same thing. And they generally all want to improve their websites, while few have the staff and know-how to do all they would like. Plus, it might introduce you to some people in the audio production world, which could be helpful if that' sthe direction your career heads.

(My background: I work part-time at a West Cost public radio station, and see a lot of interns move through the online news department each year.)
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:38 AM on March 29, 2013

Snarl Furillo: I did! They immediately rejected me after the interview. I *thought* I did pretty decently, but then again they do only accept 20 out of 450 applicants. Maybe Hacker School in the spring after I graduate.

Great thoughts so far :) :)
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 11:39 AM on March 29, 2013

I don't know about which city, but summer is a good time to work in museums. I worked in a museum for two summers (in Canada though), and they were always desperate for people at the box office because the lineup for entrance was always snaking out the door.
posted by winterportage at 12:09 PM on March 29, 2013

I did a brief summer internship at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. I don't think I got a lot out of it (memail me if you'd like to know more), but that problem was specific to the internship I had. There are more substantive ones available, even for short stretches, and the interview process wasn't difficult at all. (On phone, can't link to full list of opportunities but you can look them up.) Bonus: living in Philly is cheap.
posted by ActionPopulated at 12:14 PM on March 29, 2013

You say "maybe hacker school in the spring" .... why not the summer batch? Applications are currently open, and if you're a woman with only $1800 to your name, check the box requesting financial assistance.
posted by Metasyntactic at 12:21 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Metasyntactic: I'm considering applying for the second summer round in May, but I'm wondering whether it would even be a good idea to apply when I still have a semester left of school. If I *did* get a job offer, I don't think many employers would want to wait until January...
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 12:29 PM on March 29, 2013

HRC has interns, and DC is a cheap bus ride from just about every point in VA.

Plus you basically can't swing a stick without hitting some museum in DC. Internships are pretty competitive, but there are also related supporting programs like the National Endowment for the Arts, or the Historic Preservation Council.

Plenty of political data programing work to be done in DC too.
posted by fontophilic at 12:42 PM on March 29, 2013

I don't have any real experience in looking for coding jobs, but I think that having done something like hacker school before graduating could only look good when you're applying for jobs later. You should ask them directly, but I'll bet that since they function as recruiters they'd be happy to help you out if you're looking for jobs a few months after your batch.
Also, admissions are done on a rolling basis, so the earlier you apply, the better =)

(I just sent in my own application for Hacker School, but that's my only affiliation with them)
posted by Metasyntactic at 12:48 PM on March 29, 2013

MTSNTCTC: Oh, yeah that's true I guess. Well, last day to apply first round was yesterday, soo I guess I better get started on a project I can include in the application and apply in may... :)

ps Good luck!
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 1:03 PM on March 29, 2013

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