Location, Location, Location
This blog post was written by Peer Career Ambassador Michael Horbowy ’18.
Location is an important factor in weighing what job offers recent college graduates choose. Location affects every aspect of our lives, and it will impact performance and overall enjoyment of this new phase of your life. While proximity to family is important to some, there’s more to take into account when deciding on a location; local culture, weather, and cost of living are just a few of the other factors to consider.
Before deciding where to begin your career, it would be wise to have an understanding of the culture. What are the demographics of the local population? What do people do for recreation? Are people religiously oriented? Or maybe they’re too secular. This can be expanded to include how late businesses are open, the cuisine, and access to/usage of public transportation. You want to make sure that you will be comfortable, have things you want to do, and people you want to meet when you start your first job. When considering the people, culture is a major factor, but so is career. Locating yourself in industry hubs can help you develop your network. Nearby firms in the same industry can ease future career moves.
Weather is also an important factor. If you can’t handle the snow, or despise the heat, you may have a rough time during the extreme parts of a season. Weather affects our mood, and our mood seeps into all aspects of our lives, even work. Don’t let a hot August be the reason you’re looking for a new job only a few months after graduation.
Cost of living is another hugely relevant factor that often goes overlooked until the housing search. Many large employers will offer scaled pay depending on the cost of living in different cities – meaning that someone working in New York will have a slightly higher base salary than someone working in Dallas to compensate for the increased prices. It’s important to realize that the scaled salary is not always representative of the true price differences between cities. Beyond the obvious housing cost, keep in mind other expenses such as utilities, food, gas, insurance, public transit, and other consumer staples. These are highly variable, even within the same metropolitan area.
There are several online resources that can help you compare locations. Street Adviser and City Data offer a combination of official statistics, user-generated information, and things to do in neighborhoods (City Data even has a forum where people discuss the area). Bestplaces.net, numbeo.com, and salary.com provide calculators to see how far a salary goes in different locations. These resources, and other localized blogs and newspaper articles, can help you learn about a location before committing to it.
Brenda Kostyk, a Career Adviser in the Undergraduate Center for Career Development, believes a great way to get a feel for living in an area is to actually live there. If you’re considering a new location post-graduation, try to intern there before hand. This will allow you to experience the traffic and public transportation, discover recreational past-times, and determine if the local environment is right for you. For some, this may be ensuring you fit in and are comfortable; others may want to expose themselves to new types of people, cultures, and lifestyles. By living there for a summer you’ll learn whether you can live there long-term.
Considering all of these factors before settling on a location can help you narrow your job search, evaluate your offers, and determine the best neighborhood within a geographical for you to live. Doing your research can help you confidently make your first employment, ultimately determining your satisfaction and success in your first post-graduate position.