A typical day in the life of an intern in NYC

Work starts at 10am for my company, so usually I wake up at 9am, grab some breakfast, and take the subway to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) near downtown Brooklyn. As it is just past the peak hours, the train is not that crowded, but the frequency is not as good. Inside the train, there are all kinds of people, Caucasians, Asians, Mexicans, African Americans, Jews etc. It is quite an interesting multicultural sight that is different from Singapore.

Once at the office, a coffee a day keeps the sleep away. There’s free coffee provided at the green desk office in the morning, which has become my daily fix with coffeemate. My boss usually comes in slightly later, hence he assigns us work before by email or through the staff blog.

Around 1pm or 1.30pm, I will go for lunch. The not so cool thing about DUMBO neighborhood is that the food is kind of “atas” (up class) and most of the food is slightly expensive. There are a couple of nice deli/supermarkets that has salads, sushi (yes, Japanese sushi), sandwiches, burritos, paninis, rolls and heroes. (Rolls are like burgers while heroes are 6-inch sandwiches). One of the cheapest places to eat is Front St Pizza, which sells all kinds of Italian-American stuff from pastas, calzones, pinwheels and burgers. There are also a couple of shops which sell Spanish-American food, which is rice, beans and chicken or beef stew, and Cuban sandwiches. Usually I have lunch with one other intern, sometimes we walk around the Brooklyn Bridge Park for a breather, or just around the shops in the neighbourhood. I’ve also recently realised that Chinatown is just one subway stop from my workplace, hence it is a nice escape for bubble tea and Chinese food shops which sell $5 lunch as opposed to $8. And where else can you find Breadtalk-style pork floss bread and egg tarts and Malaysian beef jerky (which is Bak Kwa)?

After lunch, I am back to work in the office. The last two weeks were less busy. I was setting up WordPress for my boss website and integrating it with the current design, which wasn’t too difficult. I learnt how to do http 301 redirects too. I also sent numerous days fixing an email bug in the staff blog, reading up on facebook and twitter for journalists. There were also two meetings which we met up with the rest of the team and catch up with one another, discussing about tracking news events around the world. Also, the last few days I was working on Pachube through its API using PHP and JavaScript. I learnt a bit of Ajax forms, using JQuery, pretty cool and fun.
At about 6 or 7pm, I will usually summarize to my boss what I’ve done for the day, before heading out. Sometimes, on good days, my boss will bring us for a beer at the bar downstairs as it is happy hour before 7pm. We will have a drink and chill or talk about some work.

Around NYC

Independence Day weekend just passed, and we went to Hoboken in New Jersey to catch a glimpse of the July 4th fireworks along the Hudson River. It was a good view, and possibly less crowded than watching it from Manhattan. New Jersey is a neater and quieter side of the region, less urbanised and more open spaces. Liberty State Park has a nice view of the harbor and the downtown Manhattan skyline. I also visited the Intrepid, which is an aircraft carrier, an air, space and science museum. It also includes a peep into the Concorde, and a submarine which once carried nuclear missiles during the Cold War. I also watched Mary Poppins, the Disney musical, with some other interns here, and it was really beautiful.

Recently, I started volunteering at HillsongNYC church, helping out in lyrics/slides projection during two of the Sunday services. Although the hours to volunteer are long (7 hours on a Sunday), it is an honour to serve in church, like a dream come true, and to be one of the few Asians around! The church services are held in a rented club space at Irving Plaza, and there are lines forming every week for the 4 services on Sundays.

I also volunteered for the NYC Relief Bus on Saturday morning. It is a bus which goes to a less well-off neighbourhood in New York City, such as Bronx and Harlem, to serve food, distribute clothes to the needy, and just to be there for the people, especially the not so rich ones and homeless people along the streets. Every Saturday morning for 4 hours, these volunteers will serve soup and bread, and there will be lines to receive extra clothing and a week’s supply of bread for individuals. It is really a blessing to be able to volunteer in such an effort to reach out to the poorer people in a congested city like New York.

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