How can I get a new life rolling when I have things from the current life holding me back?
August 18, 2006 1:41 PM   Subscribe

I've found each of the questions I have separately on MeFi, but I was hoping that someone will have a huge, big conglomerated answer to my many questions that all essentially lead to a better, happier, more productive and fulfilling life overall.

I'll be brief, I promise! Here's the outline of my life right now: I'm working for my stepfather's company, and have been here for almost two years. I graduated in December 2004 with a journalism degree and was supposed to fill in for the receptionist for 6 weeks while she had surgery, search for a job and then of course, find a job. Unfortunately, I live in Michigan, where the only thing worse than our economy is our winters, and have desperately wanted to get out the whole time. I live in an apartment by myself and because of this have no money saved and have a bit of credit card debt.
I've finally decided to say, to hell with struggling and living paycheck-to-paycheck in a job where I still spend my days looking for another job. I also worked for a newspaper for about 9 months part-time and stayed here part time also, so I have some "appropriate" work experience as well as other kinds. I've decided to look for a job in book publishing in New York City. Of course, being the impatient little job hunter I am, I want to send resumes, mention I'll be in town so I can set up interviews, book a plane ticket, go apartment hunting and pack up my life and move. I'm mentally packed and outta here.
Aside from slowing down and being realistic, what is your guys' advice and experiences in moving with a job first vs. the other way around, getting out of debt as much as possible before moving somewhere else where the cost of living will be higher, writing an awesome cover letter, etc.? I'm planning to move outside Manhattan, like Hoboken, NJ, because the prices will be more reasonable and that's what I need.
I have so many things I want to accomplish and work with and I want it to all happen quickly. I don't think I can take much more than 6 months more of this stuff. Running the rat race on a treadmill is not what I had in mind when I graduated college.
Any help or anecdotes you guys can offer will be greatly appreciated. This is consuming so many of my thoughts and I just want to make it start happening!! Thanks!!
posted by slyboots421 to Work & Money (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Can you move in with family for 2-3 months to save up what you're currently paying in rent?

Can you look into your budget to figure out why you're living paycheck-to-paycheck right now? 'Cause that's gonna be a bigger issue in NYC.

If so, I think you could come down here pretty soon. Just save up enough cash for your security deposits and prepare to have roommates (or else NYC is just as much a rat race on a treadmill as Michigan is). The debt isn't a problem if your budget includes making more-than-minimum payments to it every month, and you're on a job track that includes pay increases.

Personally, I think the fastst route (which is definitely not available to everyone, but if you can finagle something similar, great), is to live for free with friends/family as you commute (even long distances) to your fabulous unpaid internship in publishing, which leads to exactly the job you want.
posted by xo at 2:06 PM on August 18, 2006

- Don't leave your current job until you find another one.

- NYC is very expensive. Why not move to somewhere cheaper? A friend of mine found a job in Philly right out of college editing science journals.

- If you're so broke, why not get a night job?

- You have a degree in journalism. Why'd you get that? Do you want to be a reporter? Did you do things related to this while you were in school?

- Have you talked you to university's career service center? You should have started talking with them your freshman year, but it isn't too late now.
posted by k8t at 2:10 PM on August 18, 2006

Find room mates!
You can share rent and there's even the small possibility that he/she/they can help you find a job.
posted by PowerCat at 2:12 PM on August 18, 2006

Hmmm...Hoboken isn't as cheap as you think it is, and entry level book publishing probably pays less than what you're making now.

At a minimum, before you go you need to save up enough to get yourself a room (yes, a room, not your own place) in some cheap part of the area (Harlem, Washington Heights, Jersey City). Then, get a temp or paralegal job right away to pay the expenses as you hunt for the job you want. (That's assuming that temp work is as easy to get as it was 5-6 years ago when I was in your shoes -- I don't know if it is.)

Don't worry too much about paying off the credit cards first, as long as you're good about paying those on time and not getting more in debt than you can handle paying off in the near future.
posted by footnote at 2:15 PM on August 18, 2006

An entry level job (I assume you mean editorial) in book publishing in NYC will pay about $25k a year, and they're pretty competitive. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, but it definitely means that you should give some thought to whether you can live on that salary/how you'll supplement your income/what your backup job plan is if publishing doesn't work out.

And yes, I'd recommend doing whatever you have to do before you move to get out of debt and save enough money to live on for a few months in case you don't find work right away.
posted by Amy Phillips at 2:17 PM on August 18, 2006

I did almost exactly this 10 years ago. Maybe what I learned will be helpful to you.

1. I lived with my parents for 8 months doing temp work to save up money to support myself in New York while I looked for a job. (Make sure you have some kind of financial cushion and no debt before you go.)

2. I moved to NYC with nothing but a suitcase and a reservation at The Webster. I sent out letters trying to get interviews before I left Dallas and had a few lined up, and used Kinkos to type up more cover letters when I got there. I got a few interviews, but the one that got me a job happened because I was able to skip the HR stage and interview directly with a few editors at Penguin Books, where someone in my family had been published. (You'll be able to get interviews, but do you know someone on the inside, so you can stand out from the herd of other interviewees? This will heighten your chances considerably.)

3. I took me two months of searching to get a job. I was making $19K/year, and found roommates through the bulletin board at work. (Have a financial cushion!!)

3. I worked 50 hours/week, including most Saturdays, hated my job despite prior experience in publishing (so I wasn't expecting my job to be anything other than a secretarial position with reading done in my "free" time at home.), and quit after a year and a half. (Why do you think publishing is right for you? Think about this long and hard before you start the process.)

Anyway, my advice is: get rid of your debt, know exactly how long you'll be able to support yourself while job searching, or get a temp job while you do so, and be prepared for an intensely stressful job experience. (The key to whether you stick it out will not be whether your first job is fun. It almost certainly won't be. It's whether your boss' job still looks like one that you want to have after seeing her do it for a while. For me, it wasn't.)
posted by MsMolly at 2:49 PM on August 18, 2006 [2 favorites]

I moved across the country with no job lined up and a vague idea of what I wanted to do, and it was the best decision I've ever made. I found new levels of independence and self awareness. I discovered my professional passion. I fell in love with and married my husband. I made new friends. I landed in the city where I want to spend the rest of my life.

BUT: I only did it after living with my parents for a few months and saving up enough cash that I could live for up to three months while unemployed.

AND: After the move, it took me three years of crappy jobs, lots of debt, major soul searching, and a bout of low-level depression before things really started to look up.

My advice: Do it. Follow your dream. But save up some money first, even if it means sacrificing your pride to live with your family for a while. Take whatever job you find when you get there. Be prepared for misery and disappointment before things start working out.

Maybe you should wait until after Christmas -- yes, that will mean another miserable Michigan winter. But that will give you enough months living with family to put some cash in the bank.

Also, getting a job in March or April in New York may be easier than getting work now, because right now there are still a fair number of recent college graduates ready to settle down after their last summer of freedom.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:03 PM on August 18, 2006

I moved to nyc without a job after college and it is expensive...and extremely stress-full.

Hoboken as stated is not cheap. (I lived there for two years, $700/mo with roomates and not much space.)

Be realistic in how long it takes to get a job/cash:
It took me 10 weeks from the time I moved to when I got my paycheck (2-3 weeks to get the interview, 2-3 weeks of interviewing, and then 1-2 weeks to start, 2 weeks for paycheck). I was ridiciously lucky. Crash rent-free with a friend for the first two months and still almost went home broke.

Read the other threads in askmefi about publishing.. there's a lot about why ppl eventually leave, whats good/bad about it in the archives (ex.,

Many people in publishing eventually become teachers. You might want to consider that, as many teachers are retiring in coming years, especially in urban areas (NYC has several programs for becoming a teacher). Teaching experience can also be a good foot-in for textbook publishing later on.

I also knew several ppl that had taught enough abroad prior to save some money before trying publishing in nyc.

NYC is, definately, an awesome place to live and learn. I eventually went to Chicago for a slightly slower pace, closer family, less debt (just barely cheaper, better pay in my position here).

ps. Visit if you haven't.
posted by ejaned8 at 3:22 PM on August 18, 2006

Reading your post it seems that you basically have a problem of finding opportunities. Your current market doesn't have the opportunities you are looking for so moving somewhere appears to be the best remedy. The problem here is that you haven't outlined exactly what opportunities you are looking for, and additionally, you refer to a desire to avoid the "rat race". It's true that moving to a better market will up the chances you'll get into something that truly interests, but do you have a plan of attack to increase the likelihood that those opportunities will present themselves? I've never lived in NY but it seems to be synonymous with the rat race you're referring to. Is that something that you can live with during the pursuit of your aspirations?

Those questions aside, you're young (I'm guessing) and any pitfalls you run across will be repairable in the context of your lifelong career. Now is the time to take risks.
posted by quadog at 3:56 PM on August 18, 2006

footnote: Then, get a temp or paralegal job right away to pay the expenses as you hunt for the job you want. (That's assuming that temp work is as easy to get as it was 5-6 years ago when I was in your shoes -- I don't know if it is.)

Um.. I must have missed something here. I didn't see him/her mention having any schooling for any kind of legal professional, and it's important to most firms that you have something of a clue about what you're doing. They want that from the secretaries, let alone the paralegals.

slyboots421: : I moved from Oregon to WNY without a job, and not much of a cash cushion. I'm still not sure how I made it. To live in the greater NYC area (2-3 hours commute has been called 'the greater NYC area' by people I know in the area) is going to cost you, even if you're willing to rent the worst of the worst. You really want to have something to fall back on if/when the dry spells in work come before you get something permanent and steady. Listen to the people telling you to live rent free and get a nice bit of money in your account. You'll be happy you did so later on. And - Good luck! NYC is a wonderful city.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 4:20 PM on August 18, 2006

I moved to san francisco without a job and here's how I did it; only some of this may apply to you: 1. I figured I might be out of work for 3 mos. so I estimated 3 mos. of expenses if I lived as cheaply as possible. then I had a roommate and that allowed me to save $8000. my unused vacation was worth another $2000. 2. I networked and sent resumes from a distance. working the cal. connections I had really helped. you should try and work any nyc connections you have. 3. I knew that I could count on my bf if I had to. try and have some support network in place.
posted by bananafish at 8:30 PM on August 18, 2006

I didn't see him/her mention having any schooling for any kind of legal professional, and it's important to most firms that you have something of a clue about what you're doing.

In the New York big firms, they commonly hire people who just graduated from good colleges.
posted by footnote at 9:18 PM on August 18, 2006

Response by poster: I appreciate everyone's help and insight so far! There are some good tips in here and it makes me feel more confident when I hear/see people saying "Do it now, otherwise you'll never know!"
Just to clarify a little bit - my biggest problem with my current work situation is that I don't do anything. I genuinely enjoy working hard and accomplishing things daily. That's where my "rat race on a treadmill" phrase came from - I feel like I'm running the race, but I'm not getting anywhere. I'm in the same financial, mental and physical places that I was two years ago and I'm ready to move on. I picked New York because I've wanted to live there for as long as I can remember, and while I'm not 100% sure publishing is what I want to do, I think it's a good place to start. I still can't believe the massive amounts of jobs listed there, in any field, compared to the 2 or so that are listed in Detroit daily.
So, I just wanted to clarify that I'm not in fact lazy, and would love to run the rat race for real. :)
Thanks again for all of your insight!
posted by slyboots421 at 12:30 PM on August 20, 2006

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