A summer spent interning in New York City sounds like the plot of a cheesy beach read, but this is where I’m at right now. I’ve been in the city for almost five weeks, and it has been an adventure (to say the least). There’s no way I can even begin to explain it all, but that won’t stop me from trying. Here we go:

nyc job

Photo by Gabby Cunnane

Obviously, I experienced severe hesitation about moving from such a small town to New York City. I mean, when I told my cashier at the grocery store the week before I moved up all she did was gasp and whisper “be careful!”

First of all, what the hell kinda response is that?! I don’t know you, stranger. At least pretend to act excited for me. But at the same time, she kind of had a point. It’s a huge, scary place. And sure, I’ve visited the city a dozen times and loved it, but I’ve also visited Disney World and loved it but that sure as hell doesn’t mean I want to move there.

Fast forward to my dad hugging me goodbye after moving me in, my stomach dropped. And then came the “I’m proud of you” speech and it took every ounce of strength I have not to totally lose it. But fear not, this isn’t some pity party; I’m actually having the most incredible summer of my life.

nyc job

Photo by Gabby Cunnane

My first week here was a total whirlwind. I had just moved to the most chaotic city in the states and I don’t even have a damn job. If you know me, you know I was freaking a little bit. But, I sent my resume to an incredibly successful restaurant group a few weeks prior and for God knows what reason they actually asked me in for an interview. Again, if you know me, you know I was freaking out a lot a bit.

My first interview ever at my dream job? Yikes. I thought I completely blew the first interview, but to my surprise I actually landed the job. This company, that owns some of the most delicious (see pic below), successful restaurants in the city, wants me to work for them? Shoosh yeah.

nyc job

Photo by Gabby Cunnane

Day one in the corporate world, my boss took me on a little tour and she showed me Chef Andrew Carmellini’s office. Andrew Carmellini: recipient of two James Beard Awards, a three-star review from the New York Times, and a Food & Wine Best New Chef nod. Just a few days earlier, I had asked my dad was if he thought I’d ever even see the chef at all and here was his desk.

It may sound totally uneventful to you, but this was pretty damn cool. A few days into the internship, I bump into Chef AC by the copy machine and, instead of using it as an opportunity to introduce myself, I run away like a scared little mouse. Dammit Gabby. Get it together.

nyc job

Photo by Gabby Cunnane

It took me a full three weeks to build up the courage to introduce myself to this man. In my defense, he’s one of the best chefs in the country. His cookbook is currently sitting on my bedside table. And not just for show, I read it like a book (not kidding; my roommates will vouch for me. Fun fact: it includes a recipe for the risotto below). Anyway, this guy is a big deal.

So, I’m sitting at my desk and I see Chef Carmellini make his way to the printer. Now is my time. I walk up to him and say “By the way, I’m Gabby, I’m the new intern.”

Yeah, my first words to him were “by the way.” I’m still cringing. Whatever. He pauses for what seems like thirty seconds but was probably more like two and a half, turns to me, and shakes my hand. I don’t even want to think about how sweaty my palm was.

We talked a little about where I went to school but he, like almost everyone up here, had never heard of Clemson. He welcomed me to the company and that was that. I now personally know Chef Andrew Carmellini. We exchanged “good morning”s yesterday. That’s awesome.

nyc job

Photo by Gabby Cunnane

By this point, I’ve been in the city for almost a month and it is seriously flying by. I know that’s a super unoriginal thing to say, but it is true. My bosses invited me to dinner with them at one of the restaurants we operate—and my favorite restaurant in the city—Little Park, for dinner.

To put things into perspective, Beyoncé and Jay Z rented out the private dining room to eat at dinner a few nights prior. Beyoncé ordered a freaking burger, but that’s besides the point. The food is incredible, the decor is beautiful, and we walk in literally acting like we own the place. After some seriously warm welcomes, we’re seated and order what seemed like a sufficient amount of food.

Throughout the meal, we received a few more dishes than we thought we ordered, but I didn’t really think too much of it. At the end of the meal, the freaking executive chef comes out of the kitchen to say hi to everyone, to introduce herself to me, and say that she hopes we enjoyed our meal and the extra dishes she sent out to us. And then they tell us to have a great night, that it’s on the house.

At this point, I excuse myself to use the restroom and I am smiling like an idiot. I shoot my mom a quick text and look at myself in the mirror like, is this really happening? Is this my life right now? I’m at this spectacular restaurant in Tribeca, eating some of the best food of my life, and the chef is making a special effort to ensure that we try the whole menu free of charge. This is completely absurd and I am loving every second of it.

nyc job

Photo by Gabby Cunnane

So here I am now, sitting in my bed with blisters all over my feet from working all day and exploring all afternoon. But I have zero complaints. My job is awesome, my bosses rock, this opportunity is unreal, and this place is amazing. The other day, a good friend of mine said to me “I feel like you’re just thriving in New York City. Like you’re just in your element.” And I can easily say that it’s pretty damn true.