Every year, waves of recent graduates flock to America’s two biggest cities with the hopes, dreams, and delusions of taking the job market by storm. Here’s what you can realistically expect when you make the ambitious decision to intern in New York or Los Angeles.

Commute

LA
Google Maps says a 15-minute drive in the morning, but you hop on the 405 45 minutes early and proceed to gawk at the thick layer of pollution masquerading as clouds while you move your car inch-by-inch in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

NYC
Whether you’re coming from Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester, or New Jersey, you’re in for a real adventure on your way into work. Experience unexpected breakdowns on various forms of transportation, wait anxiously for the F or G trains which never come, try to figure out how to cross town without taking the bus…all the while sweating through your button-down. On the subway, you attempt to grip the pole and avoid awkwardly touching anyone else while simultaneously burying your nose in the crease of your elbow. Someone always smells.

Lunch

LA
An hour lunch break at exactly 1pm where you sit outside with the other interns, eating burritos and adjusting your Ray-Bans in the sun. The hour comes and goes and you decide to bask in the eternal 78-degree weather a bit longer. After all, it’s not like any of the bosses are going to notice (or care) that you’re gone.

NYC
Ordering a $15 salad from Seamless and eating it at your desk without getting up to grab a napkin in case the phone rings.

Housing

LA
A multi-bedroom apartment with other young dreamers (50% chance at least one is an “actor”) in Silver Lake or Westwood. Your bong acts as your table centerpiece and you rush out of your apartment in your pajamas on street cleaning days to move your car.

NYC
A closet at the edge of Queens (Brooklyn’s now too expensive) with temperamental wifi and iron bars on your solitary 3×3 window.

Socializing with the “real workers”

LA
Finding that everyone in the office walks around with a huge 32-ivory-tooth grin while deceptively talking smack about you when you’re not in sight. In LA, everyone is “friendly” for his or her own gain. It’s all about who you know and who you will become. Maybe you’ll turn out to be the next Harvey Weinstein. Maybe you’ll sleep with his cousin. In LA, you can’t risk pissing anyone off.

NYC
No one talks to you. As an intern, you are the lowest of the low and are required to struggle through this alienating rite of passage. One day you may move up the metaphorical career ladder, but until then your only friend will be the copy machine.

Hangovers

LA
Stumble in with your Starbucks and complain loudly to your fellow interns about how drunk you were last night. Proceed to stare at Facebook for the next eight hours and be silently judged by the paid workers while they themselves nurse their hangovers.

NYC
Stumble in with your Starbucks, avoid eye contact with everyone, and silently vomit in the bathroom. Pretend like you’re doing work while chatting on Gchat and praying the phone doesn’t ring.

Financial reimbursement

LA
Keep dreaming.

NYC
Keep dreaming.