Erica Moss is the community manager for the online Master of Science in Nursing program at Georgetown University, with one of the nation’s leading online nurse practitioner programs. Outside of work, Erica is passionate about Instagram, Taylor Swift and her English bulldog, Mona. Follow her on Twitter @ericajmoss.
I was born and raised in Michigan, affectionately known as America’s High-Five. I went to school, moved into my first apartment, got married and started a life there. So when my husband got the itch to pursue his MBA at a top business school, I was pretty sure life was about to radically change. And when he decided on New York City, I was sure of it.
Could I find a good-paying job in my industry? Would I fit in with my co-workers who were already comfortable with the fast-paced nature of the city? Would I become Andrea Sachs in “The Devil Wears Prada,” tormented, exhausted and ready to give up after it all became too much? These were a few of many concerns I had.
And while I’m by no means an expert, if you’re thinking of making a similar move from the Midwest to the big city, there are a few things you can do to prepare and ensure you prosper in one of the greatest cities in the world.
Adjusting to the city
The economies in Michigan and New York, as you can imagine, are quite different. In Michigan, it’s a buyer’s market, meaning you’re able to spend time looking for the perfect rental property and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get it as long as your finances are in line. In New York, it’s the exact opposite; the vacancy rate is less than 2%, and landlords can be picky about whom they choose to live in their buildings. So that means you have to have all of your financial ducks in a row when you view a property, and you have to be ready to act when you see something you like, because it could be off the market in a matter of hours.
Don’t let the Subway scare you. If you come from a car-centric state like I did, the thought of taking public transportation can be overwhelming (What do you mean I have to travel underground?) I genuinely mean this when I say: If I can figure it out, anyone can. It becomes as second nature as hopping in your car and jetting to your favorite neighborhood spots.
Yes, things are more expensive. You will pay $5 for a box of cereal and your rent will be astronomical. But whether you live in NYC or Omaha, there are always ways to save money (buying groceries instead of eating out, biking to work if feasible, etc.) and make the transition easier. Jobs, on the whole, also tend to pay more because the cost of living is so high.
How to get a job
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, but I can tell you that I gave myself about a week after we moved to mentally adjust before I started pounding the pavement and looking for a job. I knew all of one person in the city, so my most valuable asset was LinkedIn. I targeted 3-5 companies that had been on my radar for awhile, and looked for people in my network who knew their employees. Warm introductions to those contacts followed, and almost always resulted in a phone chat and eventual interview invite.
I did apply to quite a few jobs cold, but I almost never heard back from those companies. One company hosted a meet-and-greet, which gave me direct access to hiring managers and higher-ups and made me more memorable than even the best resume could.
Ultimately, the job I ended up taking came about through a tweet. A friend of mine saw someone talking about a job opening at her company for a social media coordinator role, and referred me to that person. Shortly after, I sent over my resume and then a day or two later, I found myself chatting with their HR rep. I had never heard of 2tor before I applied there, but I didn’t let that dissuade me from going for it 110%.
This story has a happy ending, and about a month after I moved to NYC, I found myself accepting a community manager role there, representing Georgetown University’s online masters in nursing program, Nursing@Georgetown. My tasks are varied, utilizing sites like Facebook and Twitter to help spread the word about the program, combined with a solid SEO strategy that includes outreach to secure authoritative links back to our website. It entails a lot of traditional marketing techniques as well, including in-person meet-ups, webinars, email marketing and more. Our mission to disrupt higher education has gotten the attention of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes and more, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
Social media scene in NYC
I have to say that it’s very different than I expected. Back in metro Detroit, Social Media Club Detroit served as the hub for all things social, and the group led most of our formal get-togethers. In New York, likely as a function of the larger population, there are many separate niche groups that people gravitate toward. It really gives you the opportunity to focus your time on the organizations that are most relevant to you.
Groups that come to mind in the tech/social media space include Instagram NYC, Digital DUMBO, NY Tech Meetup and CM Meetup. From my experience and from what I’ve heard, they are all very welcoming and open to new members of the community. I’ve found that the best way to start getting to know people in these organizations, if you’re a bit shy at first, is to go with a co-worker or friend who already knows a few people and can help make introductions. And certainly don’t assume that New Yorkers are any harder to get to know — they put their pants on one leg at a time in the morning, too, so just be confident, and most importantly, be yourself.
Moving to a new city is always a challenging process, but it’s amplified a bit when you’re talking about a city like New York. The most important thing you can do is stay motivated, stay positive and know that all of your hard work will pay off in the end. This is the process in a nutshell, but what are some other questions you have? Other concerns?