Empire State of Mind: Following Your Dreams (And Making It) In NYC

By Rachael Smith, Student at Radford University

During my recent trip to New York City, I felt more inspired than I had in years.

As a journalist walking by the New York Times and being an audience member in the "Anderson" show, I just knew there was no reason I couldn’t make it there.

I go to a small school in the mountains and many girls like myself feel trapped there and that they can never make it to a big city full of dreams but Courtney Ducanis has proven us all wrong.

Courtney, 23, landed an internship last summer at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City. Even though Courtney graduated from a small school in a small town, she still applied for the internship. She heard back from the manager, Joan Roberts, just two days later.

I felt inspired by the city after being there for only a few days but Courtney spent the entire summer there so I wanted to know what advice she had for the rest of us.

Here's what Courtney had to say:

How were you inspired by NYC?

I was very inspired by the city mainly because of how much opportunity it has to offer. It is one of the top fashion cities in the world and that alone can offer many jobs to women.

What do you think NYC can offer to young career-driven women that other cities cannot?

There are thousands of internships that can help lead to jobs and there’s always opportunity to excel in jobs. I worked full time five days a week and I met a lot of people that could network me with other jobs. A lot of jobs link together and help out one another more so than I think other cities [do]. There’s always room to grow there. Also, even though it’s a huge city, I was there alone and really had to adjust to being independent. Some days I had to walk to work by myself , eat by myself and run daily errands alone. It gave me great sense of self and just doing things for me and that’s really important for women especially to have.

Was there more expected out of you in this job than others you have had?
Kleinfeld really expected me to be on time, look nice and be professional. They get so much publicity and they have a reputation to keep up with. The customer service they provide is top notch and I really needed to kick up my retail profession up a notch. Especially in NYC the clientele really expects to be given the best possible.

What advice would you give to young women who want to land an awesome internship like you did in a big city?
To not be afraid to take chances. We hear it all the time, "The worst that could happen is that they say no." I say, stick to what you like and what you’re good at. Being consistent with my retail work and resume helped me get my being involved and networking is another perk for getting a great internship.

How did you budget your money?
I had to budget well because my internship was unpaid. I walked everywhere, including to and from work. I would use the subway only for bad weather or for very long distances and it was only $2.50 per way. Also, I was very fortunate to live in a place that had a cafeteria and provided two meals, but I could not go out to eat often because it is very expensive.

Even if New York City isn’t where your dream job is, go full throttle for where you want to end up. While I was in the city, I saw homeless people on almost every corner and in every park. I felt sad for them, but in those moments I knew I would regret being afraid to apply for those hard jobs I felt were too far out of reach and that I should just run with my ultimate dream.

Image: Damian Brandon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!