DAMON REPORTS ON THE NEW YORK EXPERIENCE
In August 2015 10 students went to live and work in New York . This is Damon’s story
“My Work Experience in New York this summer was an exceptional and unforgettable one. I enjoyed some very thought provoking and stimulating tours and had an extensive and rewarding period at the prestigious firm, Linklaters. Working at a firm like this and being able to live in and explore New York City was an experience that I will always cherish.
My internship was at Linklaters, which is a market leading global law firm and I was assigned to work in the Finance and the Operations Departments during my stay. At the beginning of the internship, I had an intensive induction programme covering corporate and financial performance, teamwork, career development, commercial awareness and judgement, Marketing and Business development, confidentiality, timekeeping and professional conduct among others. The Conference Meeting I attended described the overall status of Linklaters while the Marketing and Presentation Skills Workshop covered campaigning and the advertising process for marketing.
In the Finance Department, I was set tasks that analysed the Financial Performance of the firm itself and its range of Practice Groups. I also monitored different Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) for all of the Linklaters employees and their client payment forms for different suppliers across the US, including AT&T and Verizon. In Operations, I had to compile the missing data for boxes of documents that were destroyed in a fire a few years ago since this could severely affect the performance and sustainability of Linklaters. My knowledge of Microsoft Excel was further enhanced through additional training, e.g. Conditional Formatting and Page Layout.
The team at Linklaters was very welcoming and supportive and I learnt a lot of transferable skills from them. I was given numerous tasks to complete within specific time frames and I was able to meet all of the deadlines. I learnt and appreciated how teamwork can be effective in achieving successful outcomes and was able to improve my communication skills both verbally and via e-mail.
One of the more memorable events that I attended whilst in New York was a live baseball match at Citifield, compliments of Linklaters. This was a match between the New York Mets and Colorado which the Mets won 4-2. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and it was really one of the highlights.
I was able to visit many interesting organisations, institutions and landmarks. The sightseeing tour on the New York Water Taxi enabled me to view a number of sights from the river including the New World Trade Centre, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, all of national significance to New York. An interesting thing was that Manhattan Island was where all the skyscrapers that are associated with New York are located.
My tour of the United Nations Headquarters was very educational. I learnt that the United Nations comprises of 193 countries, all voluntarily working for world peace, helping to find solutions to various disputes and problems that concern humanity. The UN does not have an army nor does it impose taxes but still plays a unique role in preventing and resolving war and international tensions. It responds swiftly to natural disasters and promotes human rights on a global level.
An emotional part of the trip was learning about the Underground Railroad which was a network of secret passages and safe houses that were used by the African slaves to escape to freedom. The African Burial Ground in New York is a sacred area in Manhattan where many Africans, both enslaved and free were buried. Many suffered early deaths due to illnesses or violence, some dying as young as two years old. The Burial Ground was previously closed and covered with concrete, landfill and buildings. However, in 1991, it was rediscovered and the remains of the bodies were excavated and various studies were carried out on them to determine the causes of death. A Memorial was erected on the site which became a National Landmark. I was affected by the thought of what they all endured.
One afternoon after work, we walked over to Central Park, where there were several playing fields and a baseball game in progress. We also went to a Harlem Street Festival on another occasion where there were several market stalls, some street dancing and even a Caribbean-style fashion show. The fashion show featured clothes created by Caribbean designers.
The group made a trip to Philadelphia, where we went to the Bourse Food Court for lunch. There were several different areas offering meals from a range of cultures, including Oriental and Italian. Afterwards, we went to a 16th birthday party where everyone enjoyed themselves with lots of food and dancing.
I identified several differences between New York and London. The climate was much hotter in New York, sometimes reaching 100 Fahrenheit, which is equivalent to 38 Celsius. I also observed the accent and dialect of New Yorkers which I sometimes found complicated. In restaurants the servings were absolutely huge compared to Britain and was sufficient for two persons. Tips were expected in restaurants and taxis and were suggested at up to 20% of the bill. Prices displayed in shops did not include taxes which were added at the till while in the UK they include VAT.
I was surprised to find that the New York City Subway trains all had air-conditioned carriages. However, there were many more delays than the London Underground especially around Manhattan Bridge. Also, the Subway runs a 24-hour service, which is only now being implemented in a section of London Underground lines. The volume of traffic on the roads of New York appears much larger than in London, even outside of rush hour, and there is a busy nightlife in the city. I was surprised to find that the speed limit is only 25mph on city roads and maximum 55mph on New York Highways, which are lower than London. Petrol is a lot cheaper there than in the UK.
Having lived with nine other boys in the flat, I have learnt many life lessons which include being independent, learning to prepare basic meals and being considerate of others. This has been a big challenge for me since I was sharing a room of four people. The room was quite small and all of the suitcases took up lots of room. Also, understanding everyone’s personality was difficult for me; however, we were there for one common purpose, we supported each other and participated in many group activities while in New York.
Overall, I have had a very worthwhile and most enjoyable experience in New York City. I gained many valuable skills which will be essential for my future job prospects and every single day I learnt something totally new for which I am extremely grateful. This could not have been possible without the support of the Amos Bursary and the entire team who organised the programme. I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to them for organising, preparing and supporting us throughout the whole process. It has been a steep learning curve for me and an inspiration with renewed enthusiasm to work harder towards my education and ambition in order to secure a successful career and future.