Amanda Marcus never worked your typical summer job … when school ended and the days turned hot, you never found her scooping ice cream cones, delivering pizzas or lifeguarding at her local swimming pool. Instead, ever since the summer after her sophomore year of high school, Marcus has worked in an area many have only experienced in their dreams: the nightlife industry of New York City.
Where Dreams Are Made
Marcus, a Penn State senior majoring in business management and minoring in entrepreneurship, lives in the suburbs outside of NYC but says she always knew she wanted to get involved downtown, working right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the most populous city in the United States. Having always been intrigued by the nightlife scene in the city, Marcus says that she knew she wanted to be a part of it in some respect and sought out a path into the industry as soon as she could.
“I began to really start making connections in the industry through promoters and through meeting people, and I was so intrigued by this concept of nightlife,” Marcus says. “But it’s not the part of nightlife that people assume, with the big parties and the fancy alcohol and the loud music. It was more of this attractive atmosphere with promoters bringing people in and taking them out to nice dinners and clubs and giving them this extravagant experience. I always wanted to be involved in this experience, not from the perspective of the customer, but from the person who is actually providing it.”
After realizing her goal, Marcus cold-contacted a high-profile New York City nightlife company that owns over 30 of the most elite venues across the city. The company did not offer a formal internship program, but that didn’t stop Marcus.
“I found their office number and called them and told them they should give me an interview,” she says.
After proving her charisma and potential, Marcus was offered an entry-level position with the company doing operational work in a variety of venues. She performed tasks such as staffing, working the payroll, checking lighting, confirming bouncers and anything else needed to keep the bar and restaurant running smoothly.
The following summer, Marcus was promoted as an intern and began to work in the sales and events department, doing more involved work like finding clients and planning various aspects of the events themselves. She says that while the work could be grueling, the interactions she had on the job made the work worth it.
“The thing about this industry is that it’s all people-based, providing services to clients seven days a week,” she says. “And that’s what I love about it. It’s non-stop and you get to interact with so many different people. It’s really exciting to build connections and give people an experience.”
Big Lights Will Inspire You
Though Marcus loves working in her dream industry, not everything is easy. One of the hardest obstacles she has had to overcome is the evident gender disparity in terms of the employees within the business.
“All of my bosses are men,” she says. “Besides the women that worked in the HR department, all of the other people I worked and interacted with were men. Managers, partners, company CEOs, everyone.”
She says that coming into the industry, especially one as “hardcore and cutthroat” as this, was certainly difficult, but Marcus was up for the challenge.
“Especially being the only woman in the room, you have to be tough,” she says. “You have to show that you’re capable of handling all of the madness and you have to prove yourself because no one is going to take anyone’s crap.” Marcus dedicated herself to proving that she was just as able as anyone to get the hard work done, and that the industry isn’t just a man’s game.
Her hard work paid off, and she was trusted with big responsibilities — some even as big as the NBA draft after-party, hosted by Michael Jordan and Drake. It was during this event that Marcus says she had one of the most impactful moments of her career.
“It was a last-minute event, and my boss was kind of freaking out,” Marcus says. “Because I was the only intern in that department, I told him that I would help him out. We got there at 7 a.m. to set up and the event went until 4 a.m. and I was there the whole time. It was maybe the longest day of my life.”
She says how she spent the day completing various errands throughout the city, on a stuffy mid-summer day. “I was hot and sweaty in a dress and heels, running around to do things for this person and that person and my boss and the club, and I started to wonder if it was really worth it. My feet were killing me, people were yelling, the stress level was so high.”
Marcus says that she got back to the club at 10 p.m. while they were doing the sound check an hour before the event was supposed to begin. It was only her and Drake’s manager in the room, and Marcus was sitting down, exhausted, as the lights and music around her were being coordinated. All of a sudden a song started blasting, and Marcus describes that as the moment that everything just came together — both in the club, and within herself.
“Something really hit me, and after one of the most stressful days of my career, I just felt like it was all worth it,” she says. “It was such a minor moment, but it showed me that I was exactly where I wanted to be.”
There’s Nothing You Can’t Do
Not all of Marcus’ experiences in the nightlife industry have come from New York, though. During spring of her junior year, she studied abroad in Barcelona where she decided to get involved in the European nightlife scene. She got into contact with a company similar to the one she had already worked with, and soon began an internship abroad.
“Working there gave me a whole new perspective, not only on the industry itself, but on my reflection of it in New York,” Marcus says. “That was really influential because I was able to see the world and my career completely differently. I was seeing through a European lens — a new perspective — and though I saw a lot of similarities to what I had done before, it was culturally very different.”
She says that she is so grateful to have had that internship opportunity because she would not see her career the same without it. However, her heart still belongs in New York City, and Marcus says that after she graduates in May, she wants to remain in the nightlife industry.
“My goal is to achieve a high level in my career soon,” she says. “I’m very ambitious and like to work really hard, so my goal is to stay grinding until I can make it to the very top and be an influential woman in the industry.”
Like most careers, working in the nightlife industry comes with its own hardships.
“A lot of people discredit the industry as being unprofessional,” Marcus says. “But it’s one of the highest grossing industries in the world. Things come in and out of life all the time, but something that will never go away is socialization and wanting to have a great time.”
The multitude of experiences that Marcus has garnered over time has not only taught her about working in the industry, but about how to be an empowered woman with an open mind. She says that it’s taught her that passion and motivation can conquer any limitations that women who are struggling with their self-worth may put on themselves.
“I feel like a lot of women believe that there is something holding them back from realizing their full potential, especially when it comes to a career path,” Marcus says. “But if one person tells you ‘no,’ ask somebody else. I always say that I would rather ask for forgiveness than for permission.”
Marcus hopes to break through the glass ceiling and become an extremely influential woman in her industry.
“There are a lot of limitations that are still put on women, but you have to realize that you should always just go for it,” Marcus says. “There is nothing to lose.”