Faces of AWNY: Skye Cleary

Why and where are you in NYC?  

I moved to NYC from Sydney for an adventure (and work) over two years ago. We live on the Upper West Side because it’s close to Central Park and good schools.

What do you do?  

I am an author. My book Existentialism and Romantic Love is coming out in Spring! Stay connected with AWNY for details on the book launch in May. I also work at Columbia University in research and communications.

Do you have any advice for professionals working in NYC?  

  1. Give yourself a good six months to get a job. Network and apply online – people get jobs both ways.
  2. Find your narrative (“elevator pitch”) and talk it up. A lot. There is no room for modesty in this city!
  3. Come to terms with the fact that the U.S. has the worst work-life balance of the 23 OECD nations.

What do you like best about NYC?

  1. Cocktails. They’re an artform here. Employees Only Mata Hari is a bouquet of dreams in a martini glass.
  2. Icecream. I’m OCD over Van Leeuwen’s Earl Grey Tea.
  3. Kid-friendly. In some ways. There are whole museums just for kids and pretty much any kind of class or activity you could ever imagine.

What do you like least about NYC?

  1. The disposable culture that generates so much trash. Any time it’s gets above 25 degrees, streets start smelling gross. (But the city seems to do ok with recycling.)
  2. The banking system. It’s archaic and bureaucratic. Get ready to learn how to use cheques.
  3. Lasagna sans béchamel. Ricotta topping just isn’t the same.

What are your top tips for visitors?  

  1. Go to Red Rooster (not like in Australia) and see a show at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.
  2. Drink cocktails at speakeasies like PDT, Milk and Honey, Raines Law RoomThe Back RoomCampbell’s ApartmentEmployees Only, or Death & Co. And if you’re a ‘good girl’, stay away from The Box.
  3. Walk everywhere. And look up a lot.
  4. Extra tip for visitors with kids: AMNH, CMOM, CMA, MoMA, and Intrepid.

What is your only in NY moment?

Standing in the queue at Otarian (vegetarian carbon-neutral fast-food joint), Paul McCartney and his wife walked in and tried to strike up a friendly conversation with me about my two-year old. I was star-struck and just smiled stupidly.

Why did you join the AWNY committee?

I joined to make friends and I made better friends than I could have ever imagined. I also found a support network. It’s surprisingly easy to feel isolated in the midst of 8.4 million people. So, it can be incredibly edifying to talk with people who have been through, or are going through, the same anxieties and excitement of settling into the city.

skye cleary

Portrait by pop illustrator Sam Smith @popheirloom

Author: Australian Women in New York

Australian Women in New York (AWNY) sources stories and guides that will help make you win the Big Apple. We also love to profile fabulous Aussie and Kiwi women.