Ed. note: At the end of your rope? Feeling lost now that Dionne Warwick is no longer running Psychic Friends Network commercials? Don't despair, the GC career advice brain trust is here to help. Get in touch and we'll do our best not to steer you right off the cliff.
You guys (and the peanut gallery :p) have helped me so much over the past year. You provided me with great advice, got me my offer, and managed to become a healthy distraction during class. However, I need one more favor. It's not so much about accounting and careers but about life in general.
I am graduating college in December and will intern for a big 4 in NYC starting in January. I plan on living with my parents at home in New Jersey during the internship. I have kept in contact with only a small handful of people from high school. I go to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign so it's 100% my fault for not really keeping in touch. 95% of the students here are in state and they all want to work in Chicago. There's a good chance I won't ever see my close friends that I met in college on a daily basis which is a VERY sad thought for me.
Do you guys have any advice for establishing yourself in a city like New York? Even though I have my family it feels like I'm moving to a new city and will have to form a new social circle. I'm definitely going to say "yes" to any work related social function if there are any during busy season. I would also like to meet new people outside of work. I've heard of meetup.com and plan on going to a few of those common interest meetups to expand my network.
This is an ancillary issue but how is the dating in NYC? Any advice for a guy that prefers relationships? In a city full of investment bankers and traders, will I be looked down upon as a third class citizen? I don't really mind; I just want a reality check. But I don't want to participate in something like this - http://goingconcern.com/2011/02/vault-survey-47-of-accountants-have-had-... [shameless plug].
Maybe in five years I'll email you with the dreaded "Should I stay in public accounting until I make manager? Part XXXXXVI" Just kidding! I wouldn't do that to you guys.
I let this email sit in our advice box with the hopes that Caleb would assign it to high-flying DWB but since he never got around to it, I'm hijacking your question. Now, you might wonder why I would do such a thing (or you don't give a shit) so let me tell you: I've been in your shoes, sort of.
A little over a year ago, I grabbed my cat, packed up my car with whatever worldly possessions weren't stuffed into my storage unit and made my way from San Francisco to Washington, DC. Beyond my professional contacts in the area that I'd never actually met in person and would probably never hang out with (sorry, Tom Hood) and my boyfriend 100 miles outside of DC, I didn't know a soul. I flew out a few months ahead of my move and found a place to live, specifically deciding not to live on my own (at least for my first few months here) so I would have a little built-in socialization. The upside to that arrangement was that I was almost immediately introduced to my roommate's existing contacts in the area, many of whom were well-educated, well-bred Washingtonians with large social circles. I'm still a poorly socialized hermit (see? Bloggers and CPAs aren't that different) but it was nice to have friends by proxy right off the bat.
You have an instant advantage by starting at a huge Big 4 office. You've been reading us long enough to know that you shouldn't expect to make besties in your first five minutes of coffee fetching but you will be immediately exposed to locals and transplants alike, and many of them will likely be looking to make real connections with colleagues. I made the mistake of taking my old job with me, meaning I spent my mornings scratching my ass in bling sweatpants from the comfort of my own bedroom, completely isolated from the outside world except for emails and phone calls. You, on the other hand, can go out for drinks after work (careful, you don't want to be "that guy" just a week after your arrival so try to behave, at least in the beginning) and otherwise hob nob with your fellow capital market servants.
Meetup is a good idea but if I were you, I wouldn't feel so pressured to make friends immediately. Yes, the first few weeks (maybe months) in DC were a bit lonely for me, but you've got Facebook to keep in touch with your college friends. Checking out new restaurants, bars and coffee shops is also a great way to run into people, and you'll have no shortage of these in NYC. The more you relax about it and let it fall into place, the better you'll do when it comes to forging real friendships with people you actually want to be friends with.
Professional networking events are also a great way to meet like-minded people. Again, I haven't invited Tom Hood out for a night of drunken debauchery in DC but having a few points of contact in the professional world here in my new town made me feel slightly less isolated and more in tune with my world. I tend to believe in the value of each connection, because connections have connections and different people are always doing different things, potentially exposing me to all kinds of new interests and activities that I never would have realized I liked had I stuck to the same old bar crawl scene of San Francisco.
What are you into? Yoga? Meditation? Metal? Antiquing? Boating? Getting completely shit-faced? Whatever you like, go do it (assuming it's legal). There will be people there doing it too, people who you can get to know and possibly hang out with.
Now, I can't speak on the NYC dating scene but if it's anything like San Francisco, you could be doomed depending on what you're looking for. Unless you've got some horrible disfigurement or communicable disease, however, you're gainfully employed and obviously not completely moronic so I can't see you having much trouble in that area. The sheer number of bodies in NYC tells me that as a working, educated professional, you should at least be able to get laid every few weeks as long as you're willing to fork over a few bucks for dinner and drinks. Sure the bankers get more tail but you knew that when you chose accounting as a profession, right? Just tell the girls you're in "professional financial services" if you're feeling self-conscious about admitting to being a public accounting grunt. As for relationships, I did best in a huge city when I stopped looking for one, so again, your best bet is to take the pressure off yourself and just chill out. It'll happen if it's supposed to happen. And if it isn't, forcing the issue will only lead to heartache. Whatever you do, please try not to screw your colleagues, at least not until you have a full-time offer.
That said, I might advise you to leave out the part about living at your parents' house, at least for now. As a girl, I can tell you with absolute certainty that girls aren't into that, regardless of the circumstances. Sorry but it's true.
Now, this is the part of the post where I trust our NYC contingent to chime in and school you on the intricacies of surviving such a big pond as such a little fish. We're looking forward to that "Should I stay in public accounting until I make manager? Part XXXXXVI" email from you, so don't forget us when you're miserable, engaged to a troll with a trust fund and hating every morning of your miserable little life. Good luck!