An Intern's Week In Brooklyn, New York, On $12/Hour

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
This week, we’re looking at the way interns are spending across the country. Internships can be a key way of getting experience, entering fields, and making connections, but not everyone has the ability — in terms of timing or finances — to make it happen. For those who do, managing an internship during the traditional work and school year, or working full-or-part-time over the summer can provide an exciting (or nerve-wracking!) preview of life after college.
Advertisement
Today: a public relations intern who makes $12 an hour and spends some of it on a McFlurry.
Occupation: Copywriter Intern
Industry: Advertising
Age: 22 (recent grad)
Location: I live in Brooklyn, work in Manhattan, and am originally from Texas.
Salary: $12/hour, 40 hours/week
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $600 for a student dorm room for the summer at a discounted price
Utilities: N/A for the summer
Apple Music: $5
Adobe CC: $10 (I split it with a friend)
Cell Phone: $0. On my parents’ plan (but not for much longer)
Transportation: $121 for an unlimited monthly pass
Netflix + Hulu + HBO: $0 — shout out to my friends and my brother’s ex-GF for the hook up
Birth Control: $20
Health Insurance: $0, on parents’ plan
1 of 9
7:25 a.m. – I’ve finally gotten out of bed, but it’s too late to make breakfast. I struggle to find an outfit to wear and hate how everything looks. I hate Mondays. Eventually, I settle on something and eat a sponge cake that a friend's grandma made before I head out.

8:50 a.m. – I get to the office and remember that it’s Bagel Monday. Thank goodness! I grab one and start working on copy for a client.

12:30 p.m. – I didn’t pack lunch because I didn't have time the night before, but I don’t want to spend money because I’m broke. I walk to Central Park for lunch and eat a granola bar and the other half of my bagel.

4 p.m. – Now I’m really hungry. Hangry, actually. I finish up a few meetings in which everyone says they like my work. That's great, but at this point, I just want to be home eating dinner.

5:30 p.m. – I leave the office and head home.

6:15 p.m. – Finally eating dinner! I stuff my mouth with sweet potato fries (my current obsession) and two over-medium eggs. I love breakfast for dinner.

9 p.m. – Some friends and I go to Milk Bar for ice cream; one friend treats us all.

Daily Total: $0
2 of 9
7:25 a.m. – Wake up too late to make breakfast or pack lunch. Again. Why do I do this to myself? I decide to have two frozen waffles, which I actually really love. $0

8:15 a.m. – I’m out the door and notice a new breakfast taco place in the station. I need to try this tomorrow. I’m missing Tex-Mex and breakfast tacos.

10:15 a.m. – Dark chocolate almonds are my weakness, and my office has a little machine filled with them. I’m already starting to get hungry. $0.25

11 a.m. – Trying not to eat too many sweets, but hot chocolate is tempting and I’m thirsty. I get some from the hot chocolate machine at work.

12:30 p.m – After 30 minutes of Googling and reading Yelp reviews, I settle on Whole Foods for lunch. I get tequila lime chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, and salad. I don’t want to spend money on lunch for the rest of the week, but I do pretty well considering that I’m full now without spending too much. $6.41

3:55 p.m. – The interns and creative department are having Tequila Tuesday at work at 4 p.m. By 5:30 p.m., I’m tipsy. As one of the creative directors says, “Time flies when you’re having tequila." We had chips, pico de gallo, and guacamole, so I'm also happily full.

7 p.m. – I stop by the overpriced grocery store in front of my dorm and buy chicken thighs, one onion, Special K Vanilla Almond, and a coffee-flavored Greek yogurt. I’m running out of groceries — and money. $11.20

8:30 p.m. – I wake up from a long nap to take an online quiz for school. I have a small headache from the two margaritas I drank at work. Why am I such a lightweight?

10:30 p.m. – I finish a workout and buy a ticket to see Wonder Woman with friends tomorrow night. I miss Texas’ movie prices. $17.20

11:45 p.m. – I shower, eat Oreos with milk, and then head to bed.

Daily Total: $35.06
Advertisement
3 of 9
7:10 a.m. – I wake up a bit earlier than usual to make hard boiled eggs for lunch and eat cereal. By 8:20 a.m. it's pouring. I have no umbrella or rain jacket and my usual train is a few blocks away, so I decide to take an express and then transfer to the 1. It makes my commute so much longer than it needs to be.

10:30 a.m. – A colleague gives me a Cinnamon Oat KIND bar, and I'm thrilled.

12:30 p.m. – The day is flying by, and I’m happy to have more to do at work now. I quickly eat some black beans and my eggs, feeling happy that I brought my lunch.

2 p.m. – The dark chocolate almonds got me again. $0.25

6 p.m. – I'm tired from work, hungry, and sleepy, and I have no energy, nor enough groceries, to make a full dinner. My roommate asks if I want her leftover pasta, and I joyously accept.

9:15 p.m. – Some of the other interns and I are on our way to see Wonder Woman! I haven’t seen a movie in so long, and I'm ready to feel empowered and inspired. My roommate treats us all to extra-buttery popcorn. I eat most of mine during the movie trailers.

1:30 a.m. – Well, I am overwhelmed. I’m filled with love and sadness and also seriously want to get some upper-body strength. Gal Gadot, I want to be you.

Daily Total: $0.25
4 of 9
7:30 a.m. – Wake up tired, with horrible cramps, and already stressed about my finances. I’m going to have to ask my parents and younger brother for grocery money since I don’t get paid for two more weeks. I make a smoothie to soothe myself; intern life isn’t easy.

8:15 a.m. – I find a $5 bill in my wallet! I’ve wanted to try the Austin-style breakfast tacos near my train station because part of me is homesick and craving Texas flavors. It’s a bit overpriced but gets the job done. $4.61

12:30 p.m. – I get hungry and decide to try out the café downstairs at work. I buy a small fried chicken thigh and a piece of cornbread. It’s really good! $7.57

4:30 p.m. – Today is Thirsty Thursday at work, which means it's time for red wine and beer kegs. I love the ad industry.

9:30 p.m. – I wake up from a nap I took at home, after being tired from work and all that wine. I’m taking an online summer class, which has to be one of the worst decisions I've made recently. I do some homework and eat cereal for dinner. Sometimes Special K Vanilla Almond is all you want. Before going to bed, I cook some of my chicken for tomorrow’s lunch.

Daily Total: $12.18
5 of 9
7:30 a.m. – It’s Friday, and I’m pumped. I’ve got a long, full day ahead with lots of brainstorming to do for our clients, so I pop some Trader Joe’s waffles in the toaster and get ready for work.

2 p.m. – This has been one of those days that's so busy that you don't realize you're hungry until you look up. I finally eat my chicken and bread as work slows down.

5:30 p.m. – Sometimes interning in the city makes me feel like I have to do everything, or else I'm wasting time. Still, I need a mental health break. I decide to take this Friday off to chill.

7:30 p.m. – I make egg burritos for dinner and settle in to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, clip my toenails, and sext. This self-care Friday was much needed.

Daily Total: $0
6 of 9
10 a.m. – It feels so good to sleep in! My roommate and I decide to make pancakes together. I have a Tinder date today, and it’s been a while since I’ve gone on a date at all. I'm curious to how it will go.

1:30 p.m. – I meet my date at a coffee shop. He pays for my chai latte, which is the best I’ve ever had. He is talkative and nice. I'm relieved that it’s not awkward!

2:30 p.m. – We decide to go to a museum, the Rubin Museum of Art. I pay for my ticket, and am silently grateful for my student discount. $10

4:30 p.m. – The museum was amazing! We part ways, and I meet a friend in Chelsea, buying pizza on the way. $7.50

5:30 p.m. – I'm going to a Toro y Moi DJ set tonight but need my afternoon nap first. After my roommate and I wake up, we take the L train to The Well in Williamsburg.

6:30 p.m. – This venue reminds me of Austin! I get a drink, start dancing, and check out everyone’s cute outfits. $7

10:30 p.m. – The show is over, and I’m loving life. This is the third time I’ve seen Toro y Moi live, and he killed it again. My roommate and I have a case of the munchies and head to McDonald’s. I get a McChicken, fries, and we split a McFlurry. $3.27

11:20 p.m. – We're still a little hungry and decide to stop at a bodega to buy chips. I also find a small-sized Mazola Corn Oil, which I've been looking for! $6.68

11:30 p.m. – Another friend is throwing a party in Bed-Stuy. We’re exhausted but decided to check it out for a bit. We aren't familiar with the area, and it’s too long of a walk, so we split an Uber. $5.23

12:15 a.m. – We decide to head home and split another Uber. I’m extremely tired and immediately fall asleep once I get home. The Uber is on me. $17.34

Daily Total: $57.02
7 of 9
10:30 a.m. – Sunday is upon us! I’m going to the MoMA today and eat a few leftover pancakes for breakfast before I head out.

12:30 p.m. – My company gives us free admission to the MoMA, and I’m also able to get a discounted pass for my friend.

4 p.m. – Looking at art for a few hours makes us tired. It was so beautiful, but we're starving afterward. We decide to get burgers — one of the juiciest I’ve ever had! $11.93

5:30 p.m. – Back at home, I take a nap and sleep off my food coma. I get up around 8 p.m., having finally mustered the energy to get out of bed to hit the grocery store. I buy cilantro, tomatoes, mozzarella, apples, chicken breasts, and lime juice to make quesadillas for lunch tomorrow. $9.09

8:30 p.m. – I decide to watch the sunset on the Brooklyn Promenade. There are so many couples around me. I kind of want a boyfriend right now, but also I’m happy to be single and living my life! I’ve only been in New York for a few weeks, and I fall more in love with the city every day. The skyline is beautiful, and I'm kind of in disbelief that I’m here. I feel ready to take on the rest of the summer and hopefully land a full-time job.

Daily Total: $21.02
8 of 9
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Have a money diary you'd like to share? Submit it to us here.
9 of 9
Money Diaries is a chance to learn the nitty-gritty financial details most people don't share every day. Salary? Check! Loan payments? Check! Credit card debt? It's all there for the world to read.

But why do we still feel so uncomfortable talking about our finances? It's hard to learn how to manage money if you're not talking about it in the first place.

We want to know: Who do you talk to about money? Your parents? Your partner? Your best friend? And how much info do you feel comfortable sharing? Tell us, and we'll publish the best responses in an upcoming story on Refinery29!

Click here to submit your answer via Google forms.
Advertisement