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How to Make the Most of a Gap Year in New York City

If you are international student planning to take a gap year in the greatest city on the planet (that’s right, it’s NYC), here are some ideas to expedite your immersion into American culture – and make some cash so that you can really take advantage of the city.

The unisphere in Flushing, Queens in New York City. (Photo: Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Teach your native language to New Yorkers
If you are a native speaker of Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, or Russian, your teaching services may be in high demand by New Yorkers who are increasingly going global in their private and professional lives. As corporations continue to look outward to capitalize on cheaper talent overseas (thinking of investment banks shifting or focusing their operations to Asia and Latin America) you might be able to teach your language to an executive about to lead a team based in Beijing, Shanghai or Sao Paulo. You have this potential market in addition to the curious individual in the city who wants to learn your language to enrich herself.

Find seasonal work in Manhattan
If you need some extra cash while you are spending your year off in NYC, consider seasonal work with companies that need help. There may be visa or work authorization issues you’d need to navigate depending on what passport you hold, but assuming you can work there are great temporary options to consider. And I’m not just talking retail – think bigger or at least more intellectually stimulating—maybe there’s a startup down in the Meatpacking looking for an intern with a global perspective who is hungry and creative. If that’s you, what are you waiting for? Craigslist and could net you a few good leads.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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