Congrats is in order because you worked hard and got an internship! Now, you need to hustle to find summer housing. Interning in a new city can be an exciting opportunity to learn a new place, gain independence and test out a potential future new home.
The clock is ticking to make this happen and you need to step up your housing search – fast. If you are still waiting to hear back from an internship interview, do some research so that you are ready to jump into action if an offer comes in. It doesn’t matter if you are going to Seattle, Washington or Washington, DC, I’ve outlined a few questions you need to answer for yourself ASAP.
There are four basic housing questions you should be researching now:
1) Where am I going to live?
Start with the local colleges and universities in the area to see if they allow summer housing for non-university students. Colleges including Columbia, FIT and NYU are a few places to start in NYC. Also in NYC you have the option of going through Educational Housing Services (EHS).
EHS offers student and intern-only residences in six New York City neighborhoods.
Los Angeles bound interns can start with UCLA summer housing as an option. You may need to provide proof of your internship in order to secure a place on the UCLA campus. Another popular option is the Park La Brea Apartments which offers short-term leases for the summer.
Washington, DC is a another student friendly destination with intern housing options available at George Washington University, George Mason, American University and many others. If campus housing isn’t your style, you can try and sublet an apartment through Craigslist or AirBnB (be careful). If you can afford it, corporate housing through Oakwood Temporary Housing is available in many major cities as well.
It is also time to put your network to work. Start asking around to family, friends, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, religious organizations, professional associations and other resources to see if someone has an extra bedroom or couch for you to crash on.
2) How much is it going to cost me?
Probably more than you thought if you are going from a small city to a big city situation. You could find yourself handing over $2,000 or more of your hard earned summer cash for housing in New York. A room at New York University is going to set you back between $222 and $481 per week depending on your room choice. The meal plan will cost you an additional $149 per week for the most affordable option.
If you are headed to Washington, DC and considering housing at George Washington University, expect to pay between $280 to $434 per week for quads to single rooms. The difference between an eight-week internship and a 12-week internship could be as much as $1,000 more out of pocket. You need to also understand if there are any additional application fees and/or deposits and if payments are due in full or through payment plans.
The costs for some places will be charged all up front, while others may allow for monthly or weekly payments. If you don’t have the full amount due, find the housing option that lets you make payments.
As a student, as much as I wanted to intern in a bigger city, my pockets just weren’t that deep. But, if you aren’t a senior you have the chance to start planning now. Save your money this year so that next summer you can intern in your dream location.
3) How am I going to eat?
If you are living in a major city on a $15 per hour intern salary, you can’t afford to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Really you can barely afford to eat! Either you will need a meal plan or a kitchen to cook. For this reason, I do think that living on campus and selecting a meal plan could turn out to be a great option for many students.
Living in an apartment will give you the ability to cook, which is probably the cheapest option. If you can’t cook, you need to learn a few quick, inexpensive meals before you go. Make sure you know where the grocery stores are. Renting a place on AirBNB only to find out you need a car to get to the nearest restaurants and grocery stores would make summer really hard if you don’t have a car.
4) How will I get to work?
Some cities have awesome public transportation systems including trains and buses. Get to know the routes, the costs and how long your commute will be. Understand that all transportation systems are not created equal. The New York City subway is vastly different than DC metro train system. Understand where you will be living and if you will need a car to even get to the train station.
West coast interns will be best served by having a car. If you don’t have one, just make sure you live on a bus line and not too far from your internship. Taking public transportation or paying for gas on a long commute can start to impact your pockets. Make a budget that includes transportation expenses so that you are not hit with surprises to your budget later.
Obviously you will likely have the option of Uber, Lyft or another rideshare service. Most cities have one or the other, but not all cities do so make sure you know that beforehand. There are also bikeshare programs and services like Zipcar that might be an option for you as well. Whatever your method that you plan to use, know your numbers. Have a transportation budget that won’t let you broke.
Embrace the Experience
These are just a few things to bring to your attention as you go through this search process. Interning in a new city can be an exciting adventure but it does take some planning.
Let the adventure take you beyond your internship. Get to know the city, experience the culture, the foods and the people. In addition to getting to know your fellow interns and co-workers, you will meet people in your summer housing unit. You can also stretch yourself and look for meeting or professional networking events sponsored by organizations you are a part of.
In my book The Internship Manual, I dedicate an entire chapter to this topic, “Get Out of the Comfort Zone: Interning Away From Home”. Pick up a copy now so you can learn all you need about finding housing and about being a rock star intern.