How to Get a New Grad Nursing Job in NYC

Updated 11/21/12: I wrote a short piece on how current new graduate searching for a job can find one. Scroll down.

Updated 9/15/14: Courtney, RN from www.fromnewtoicu.com volunteered first before she got her first paying job. Learn more by reading her guest post and checking out her website.

I am writing this for current NYU Nursing Students because I wished I had an adviser who told me what I should have done to start my career right away. In hindsight, I see that if you really want a job in a NYC/Long Island/Westchester hospital right after nursing school (and not 6-8 months after graduation), it starts DURING NURSING SCHOOL. Now that I am learning from my mistake, I hope that you won’t make the same mistake. Here are some tips.

1. During your clinical rotation, meet the nurse manager. Get her business card. E-mail her and let her know your interest. Once you graduate, e-mail her and let her know that. Once you pass your NCLEX, let her know that you have your license. Keep in touch. This is how you keep a relationship alive — through frequent contact!

2. Volunteer where you are interested in working. Yes, you are volunteering to help people, but you are also volunteering to meet the nurses on the unit to show them that you are awesome and you work well with them. Keep talking. Here is your timeline:

1st and 2nd semester: Study hard and do well in school!

3rd semester: Apply for a volunteer position. It typically takes 1 month to 2 months to be proceed, go to orientation, and begin volunteering.

4th semester: Keep volunteering and definitely let the nurse manager know that you are a nursing student. Tell them about your career goals or what you hope you can learn and do. Some of my classmates volunteered 4-8 hours on their days off and it paid off!

3. If you’re interested in working at New York Presbyterian, I recommend that you become a nurse companion (~$9/hour). Majority of my classmates who worked there as a nurse companion either have a job or in the process of getting a job. Here is the timeline:

~1st semester: Study hard and do well!

~2nd semester: Study hard and do well! After you take your last final of 2nd semester, apply for the nurse companion. Check on their website at nyp.org and click on careers. Type in nurse companion. If you don’t see it, then just check everyday.

~3rd semester: Chances are, you will wait 3 months before you’re called.

~4th semester: You’ll get a call for a phone interview. You may wait another week or two before you’re called again to go in for an interview. Once you’re in, you will choose one or two days to do 4 or 8 hour shifts. From what I’ve heard, you will be on one-on-one duty. That means you stay next to the patient’s side to talk to him and help him in any way possible.

4. Get to know your professors and ask them for help. There is a large group of NYU Nursing students (~300) so it is not the easy for each person to get to know the professors. It makes sense, right? The more people, the less personal each class becomes. However, if you can, your professor should be a good resource.

—————-*—————-*—————-*—————-*—————-*—————-

Remember, the whole purpose of nursing school is to:

  • Graduate
  • Pass the NCLEX to get your RN
  • Begin to work

At least in the beginning, that is your goal.

Yes, during nursing school, you will learn a lot about research and evidence-based practice, NP, DNP, PhD, and everything about how to elevate the profession of nursing. And yes, these are all topics that I personally enjoy (which explains why I interned at the NYU CSAAH B Free CEED: New York University Medical School – Center for the Study of Asian American Health – National Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Hepatitis B Disparities — it’s all about implementing research and public health). However, in the end, the biggest hurdle is school, NCLEX, and the first job.

For now, my focus is on obtaining my first job.

Please feel free to comment below to let me know if this was helpful. Thanks for reading!
————-

Updated on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 — after securing my first job offer
Perhaps right now, NYC is not in a nursing shortage. So hospitals more than ever are dragging their feet when it comes to hiring new graduates. Some say that it is because the hospitals are out of money. Others say that the training for current nurses on the new computer system is more important than hiring new nurses. Whatever the reason, new grad nurses may not be high demand in hospitals but there are ways to get hired as a new graduate.

In hindsight, I say that it’s better to go out and visit the places where you’d like to work instead of spending majority of your job searching time online. Even though some people will say, “it’s all online now– just apply online,” others will be gracious and accept your resume and give you more appropriate directions on what to do next. Even if the website says that there aren’t any positions available, it is still worth a try by going there. You are a new graduate — someone fresh from school with the latest knowledge base and someone who can be molded. And someone who is excited to be a nurse!

Face to face contact is still the best way to make a connection with someone, especially one with hiring power. They can see that you are eager and read your body language. And if you were in their shoes and you met someone who told you that she was a new graduate looking for a job, wouldn’t you want to try to help her? In general, nurses are nice people, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the profession.

So what do you have to lose? If nothing happens, then you’re still back to square 1 – a new grad without a job. If a person likes you there, then you have a lead and something to go on!

Here is a step-by-step process on how to visit places.

1. Make a list of the places you want to visit (it is possible to visit all of floors of a hospital… The staff there probably won’t talk about you to each other. Or you can visit private offices. Or nursing homes.). Do this the night before you head out.
2. Dress business casual.
3. Make copies of your resume (I usually ask the Staples guy for resume paper and I make my own copies. With tax, it comes out to 11 cents a page. That’s still less than buying your own resume paper, which comes out to 13-17 cents a page depending on the number of resume paper you buy. Plus, that way you only buy when you need! If you have them do it for you exclusively though, it’ll come out to 22 cents a page. So if it’s your first time, just ask for help. Remember how they did it and you’ll be an independent copy machine person from then on!).
4. Hit the pavement! Try going there between 10-11am and after lunch 1:45-4pm. This is usually when they are least busy and have some time to talk to you.

—-

Each organization is different, but I found a couple of similarities in ways to get hired:

1) You must know the nurse manager and appeal to her. If she is happy with you (determined through an interview that you got through persistent calls and emails to her), then she will tell the nurse recruitment your name for them to pull your online application that you put together after you’ve already spoken with the nurse manager. Nurse recruitment will then interview you to mostly make sure that you are a good person.

The best way to know that this is how a particular hospital does this is by the online application process. If you are a new grad and you have to apply to several different positions (and not one position that is actually specifically for new grads), then chances are, your application will sit in the company’s computer. It will likely never be seen if you do apply online.

Let’s say that you applied online. Then my best advice to you is not to see nurse recruitment or Human Resources. It is to see the nurse manager on that unit. Find out where she might be and go say hi!

2) You email your information to the nurse recruitment and the staff there actively look through the resumes and cover letters to place you in a unit. If you are called up, then you will interview with the nurse manager. If she’s happy with you, then several follow up interviews will follow with the head nurse and possibly Human Resources.

Good luck! Stay positive. Find out your old hobbies or discover new ones. I did that to stay sane during my search from July to November. You can do it! 🙂

————–

Updated 9/15/2014

After virtually meeting Courtney online, I learned that she volunteered as a nurse for 5 months before she got her first paying job. Learn more by reading her guest post.

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  • Grazi

    This was very good. I am moving to NYC from NC and am looking for a new grad position….needless to say, the hiring in NY is much different than the hiring in NC ( most of my classmates already have job offers, with a start sate of July). I did an externship in the city last summer, so I am hoping that having done that, it will show my strong commitment to move.

    Anyways, good tips.

    • Good luck!! I hope that you can find a position. I recommend that once you find a position to stay at least a year. That should be enough experience for mobility either within the hospital to another unit or to another location.

      Of course, I’ve heard first hand stories where nurses hated their first-out-of-college jobs and within 8 months, moved to a different hospital with better management and staffing.

      As long as your attitude is positive and you show your dedication to the nursing profession, you should be good to go!

    • james

      Just wondering Grazi, what did you find in NYC? I’m licensed after my ADN, but waiting until I finish my BSN this coming summer to land a job….Volunteering at NYP in the meantime…

      Best,

      JCarroll

      • Hi James,
        I worked at a rehab and nursing home first for 2 months before I was hired to St Francis Hospital in Long Island. Good luck getting your BSN!

  • Kat

    Hello Jess,
    Have just recently passed the NCLEX. I came from the Philippines and was educated there. Do u have any tips on how will I compete with the other nurses to land a job New York, though I am a resident of the New York State.

  • Kelsea

    Congrats on your successful job quest 🙂 I am applying to NYU’s accel. program and am now having doubts about finishing my application. It is my goal to attend the program so that I might work as a nurse in NYC. Do you think nurses who attend NYU’s program have an easier time finding jobs than new grads coming from outside of the city? In terms of experience, I was thinking about obtaining a CNA license before entering an accel. program. Also, how competitive are NYU’s nursing externships?

    • Hi Kelsea,
      Attending school in NYC (not just NYU) does help with getting a job in NYC because you have the resources to do so (professors, nurse managers, etc). At a moment’s notice, a nurse recruiter may ask if you can make it to an interview the next day. Some are impressed that you attended NYU, but I say that the major factors of getting hired is LUCK and your personal impression.

      I don’t think it’s necessary to obtain a CNA license. It may be helpful for you to work at the hospital as a CNA to gain more insight into what nurses do but I wouldn’t distract from your ultimate goal of attending nursing school.

      NYU’s nursing externships are competitive but those take place during the summer and as a accelerated student you won’t be able to participate in it.

      I see that you’re from Florida (based on your email) and they have a great nursing school there! Follow your dreams and go for it. 🙂

  • Annie

    Hey,

    Do you think that an externship would be possible during the 15-month accelerated program at NYU and do you think it would help a student get a job straight out of school (once the NCLEX is passed of course)

    • Anything is possible! I know students who did it before. I personally did not do an externship due to time constraints as they are typically done during the summertime. Not doing one doesn’t hurt. You will still find a position without an externship. Good luck!

      • Annie

        Thanks for the information. It is scary hearing about how a lot of hospital are not hiring new grads. It’s nice to know the internships are not necessary as I know it would be difficult to pull during an accelerated program.

  • Belle

    Wow Jess you are such a kind and considerate individual. The world needs more people like you. Thank you for such useful ino. God’s richest blessings to you.

    • Thank you Belle! You made my day. 🙂 We need more people like you too!

  • nmorfe

    Hi Jess!

    Thank you for your great advice! I’m currently in my 3rd semester of NYU’s nursing program and I just stumbled across your blog. I’ve been trying to start planning for things I need when I start applying for jobs and I was wondering, did you start applying before graduation or after? Or before or after you passed NCLEX? Also, how early is too early to start asking for letters of recommendations from clinical instructors? I’ve asked several instructors at the end of clinicals each semester if they would be able to write one, and others have offered, but I haven’t followed up any yet. And lastly, would you say it’s easier to get a job in an NYC hospital if you already work for them? I’m asking because I currently work for one, but not in any kind of nursing/clinical position. Thank you so much! Your help is really appreciated! =)

    Nadi M.

    • Hi Nadi,
      Personally, I started to apply for jobs starting after graduating school and after passing the NCLEX. It took me from about 4 months to secure a position. I did start earlier but many hospitals told me that they weren’t looking for students until they passed their NCLEX. However, I had several classmates get positions before graduating from school. I asked letters of recommendations from my clinical instructors in my last semester and that was fine. You can follow up with your clinical instructors after you start applying for jobs. If you currently working in a NYC hospital, it should be easier just cause you know the nurse managers and the people there. However, if the people you work with don’t like you, you probably have a lower chance of working there. But you sound like a nice go-getter so you shouldn’t have too much problem. Anyway, good luck!! 🙂
      Jessica

      • Teo

        What’s your opinion on working in a long term health facility as your first job? Did it help you in landing your telemetry position?

        What’s your opinion on cover letters? Are hiring managers enticed by reading them? I’m a new graduate who has passed my NCLEX, waiting on my license number, but am stressed about finding a job :/

        -Thanks!

        • Hi Teo,
          Working at the LTC Facility helped me for my telemetry interview because I had more relevant experience. I was the charge nurse right away and had to deal with challenges that I didn’t deal with when I was just a student nurse. I remember during school, an alumnus came back and said he was in a LTC for 8 months before he found a job in the ER. It is still nursing experience and as long as you have your goal in mind, you will reach it!

          You should always write a cover letter for each place you apply, especially hospitals! Make each unique to that hospital.

          Finding a job is definitely stressful but also try to enjoy your time being unemployed! 🙂 good luck and don’t lose hope.
          Jessica

  • Kit Iryna

    Hi,

    This was so helpful, only one question about the nurse companion, when you say 3rd 4th semester, you mean that we work as nurse companions after graduation? or while studying?

    Thank you so much =]

    • While studying! I didn’t do it personally but I had classmates who did.

      • Kit Iryna

        Thank you =]

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  • Emily

    Hi Jess!

    Thanks for the great post. I am a new graduate BSN and have been applying for jobs for about 2 months with no luck. I’ve decided to take a different approach. As far as applying to hospitals in person I have a couple questions:

    1) DId you only bring a resume or did you include a cover letter?
    2) Any advice on the best hospitals to go in person. I have called a couple and they said they only accept online.

    Thanks,
    Emily

    • Hi Emily,
      I know applying is tough! I brought only my resume but as you said, many hospitals want online applications. A few nursing homes were more open to in person resume drop off but just keeping messaging nurse recruiters and applying. Be open to different experiences and you’ll eventually get to where you want to go! Good luck.
      Jessica

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  • vanessa

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your insights. I graduated with a BSN in May of this year and up until now, I’m still looking for a job. How do you think I should approach a nurse manager if I wanna pay him/her a visit? Because I’ve tried to do it once and said hi and politely and respectfully asked about job openings in the unit and the NM just blew me off and made me feel like I wasn’t supposed to be there and that it was a bad move to do that. I hope you can help me. Thank you!

    • Hi Vanessa,
      Each hospital and each unit will treat visitors differently. It is difficult to gather up the courage to see them in the first place! Most hospitals depend on the nurse recruiter to find their new nurses so it may be a better idea to visit them instead. If possible, have a hospital specific or unit specific letter (for example, what’s your favorite unit and why would you want to work there?), along with your resume. Don’t be afraid of finding work outside of the hospital setting first. Just keep applying and trying and you’ll get it eventually!!

      For me, the hardest part was the interview. Think through your strengths and weaknesses, how you deal with difficult situations, delegate roles, why nursing and where you want to be in 5 years. Make sure it’s consistent with the hospital philosophy (do they promote nursing education or not?). Don’t talk about tangential things. It’s imperative that you stay on topic! 🙂 Good luck!

      Jess

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