Rebecca’s Perspective: Where in the world am I going?

January 12, 2010 at 10:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments
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In 2009, I escaped Ohio’s grey skies three times and experienced several climates and cultures the great U.S.A. offers.

In July, I enjoyed the hustle, bustle and deep-dish pizza of Chicago.  Toward the end of summer break, I headed down the East Coast to enjoy Virginia Beach’s sandy, relaxed atmosphere.  I traveled to San Diego in November, and the city’s abundant sunshine made me realize I could live in a box along the bay and be completely content with my life.

After visiting these cities, reality struck.

I’m four months away from my college graduation, and unless I’d like to live in my humble Kent abode until the end of time, I need to get serious about where I’d like to live.

So here’s the deal: My spontaneous side thinks it’s a fabulous idea to pack up my small-town Midwestern life on a whim and head to the West Coast.  However, my sensible side reminds me an average one-bedroom apartment price of $2,273 per month in San Francisco is not realistic for an unmarried, entry-level pro with college debt and a car payment.  It didn’t take me long to realize I’m going to have to make a compromise.

I found a plethora of lists comprising the best cities for fresh college grads, including these lists by Gradspot.com and The Wall Street Journal.  As I searched list after list, I noticed a trend among large cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., NYC, Chicago and Atlanta.

These cities are great, but I’m not sure if they’re a realistic match for my needs as a 21-year-old newbie.  I’m a public relations major- not an accounting or engineering major- and my first paycheck will reflect that.  I’d love to work in one of these cities at some point in my career, but I’d like to have solid work experience in my public relations tool belt before I pack up and head to the land of ridiculously priced studio apartments and budget-busting grocery bills.

So which growing city can I relocate to that boasts a reasonable driving distance back home, a vibrant social scene and opportunities to grow as a public relations professional?

Columbus, Ohio!

OSU football game

Looking at a sea of scarlet at my first OSU game. Love at first sight.

What’s not to love about Columbus?  The 15th largest city in the U.S. has everything I’m looking for (okay, minus the perfect weather): cute communities/suburbs like German Village and Worthington, delicious restaurants, entertainment, dainty coffee shops, affordable rent and fabulous career opportunities in health care, corporate and agency PR.  Did I mention OSU football, too?

Please note: I’m not eliminating job opportunities that may pop up throughout the country or in Northeast Ohio.  I’m impressed by the amazing PR/marketing professionals I’ve met in the Akron/Cleveland/Canton network, and I’d be honored to start my career here.  However, I’ve lived in “the 330” my entire life, and a part of me yearns to see what other areas of the state have to offer.

I’ve picked my city. Did you pick yours?

Soon to be grads: Where would you like to relocate and why?  New pros: Did you have to relocate?  If so, how did you choose to make your new home?

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  1. Rebecca,
    Great question, and I love the way you framed it up specifically for PR pros. I think you’ve capture the concerns of new and soon-to-be grads well.

    After my undergrad, I opted to return home and build up that base of experience you mentioned (including a MA degree if all shakes out right this semester). But as much as I love everything the CLE+ region has to offer, the intrigue of moving beyond is tough to deny.

    In the end, I think you have to follow the best opportunities, but finding them depends on where you look. I’d suggest looking at more than one place just to keep your options open. My dream cities? Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver and basically any place in the Rocky Mountains. To me it’s about finding a job in a place where I can enjoy my hobbies.

    Great post — looking forward to more.

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for sharing your input! You’re a fine example of the fact that moving home isn’t so bad after all. It seems like Kent State presented you with several opportunities to expand your knowledge and shine as a rising PR pro.

      I know you’re an avid outdoorsman, so those cities sound perfect for you. Isn’t Minneapolis a little cold, though? Brrr!

      Thanks again,
      Rebecca

  2. Hi dolls!
    Glad to see the new blog is alive and well. I just moved to Columbus a week ago so I’ll let you know how I like it! I had the same thoughts as you–close enough, far enough away, change of scenery, moderately priced. So far, eh. It’s OK. But I guess what do I expect from Ohio in winter? Haha.

    I still think Chicago is the place to be 🙂

    • Hi Jackie,

      Congrats on your move! I agree; it’s hard to expect much from Ohio in the winter.

      Chicago is a great city with a lot of opportunity; I’m just worried about the price of living for a young pro.

      You’ll have to let me know how Columbus goes!

      Thanks again for chiming in. 🙂

      Rebecca

  3. Rebecca,

    This is a great topic, especially as the spring semester begins for many seniors. There are great arguments for both sides. I graduated from college last year (May 2009) and ended up going home after graduation, since graduating in the smack middle of a recession doesn’t bring many job opps (especially in Communications). I applied for jobs in many different places- mostly on the East Coast, but still in 5-6 different cities. You have to be willing to look in new places for a great job and, more importantly, go where those jobs are.

    On the other side, I don’t think that it’s wise for a fresh graduate to move to an expensive city working a job that pays $12 an hour. If you can find a great job with a good salary, benefits, and a cheap place to live, then go for it. But aside from living costs, a new grad has other financial responsibilities. Loan repayments start 6 months after graduation and not a second later. Yes, you have to go where the job is, but you also have to be smart about it.

    I ended up getting a great job that I love 20 min from my house, which will help me save up some money and move out when I’m financially ready. When that time comes, I hope to move to a new place where I can explore and grow as a person- both professional and personally.

    Great post!

    • Hi Christa,

      It sounds like you went through a stressful job search, and I’m glad you were open minded and willing to move to where the jobs were. Congrats on finding a job you enjoy close to home! I am sure the experience you’re gaining will be beneficial when you’re financially ready to move.

      Thanks again!

      Rebecca

  4. Hi Rebecca –

    This is an interesting post. The short, and ambiguous answer is that you take the opportunity that will be of most help to you down the line. The reality is that you aren’t going to stay in one spot forever (especially if you’re an agency pro), and that your first gig really sets the stage for your entire career. I’d be hesitant if I were you about limiting yourself to certain geographies. Sure, moving to Juneau, Alaska is probably out of the question, but what if you were presented an opportunity in St. Louis (I can think of an awfully large firm that’s based there)? What about Charlotte, NC? There are lots of large organizations in Charlotte.

    This comment is getting a little long, but it was intended to say take the job that gives you the best chance to kick off your career in style, while also setting the stage for what’s next.

    PS – glad I found your blog. Looking forward to reading more.

    @chuckhemann

    • Hi Chuck,

      Thanks for chiming in! It’s always good to get advice from someone who knows what he’s talking about.

      I agree; I shouldn’t limit myself. Shantae was not too happy when I told her I was going to put most of my focus on one city. I’ll definitely apply for job opportunities that appear throughout the country; I actually have family near Charlotte. However, since I feel Columbus would be a good fit, I’d like to take some extra time to learn about organizations and agencies in the area and expand my network.

      It’s so weird to think my first gig will be the starting point that focuses my career, but you’re right. That’s why this is such a huge decision! I have a lot of thinking to do.

      Thanks again, Chuck.

      Rebecca

  5. Hi Rebecca!

    This blog is so cute! I’m going to add it to my Reader right now.

    I know where you’re coming from – graduation is approaching so quickly, it’s overwhelming.

    I don’t know if I want to relocate, per say. Living on the North Shore of Chicago, so close to this HUGE hub of activity, has made me question multiple times if I want to go anywhere else.

    Plus, as I’m sure you know, the Midwest has some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. So to be honest, I don’t even think I’ve answered this question myself. But you have me thinking.

    Yesterday I randomly applied to a job in NYC. Upon telling my mom, she seemed sad that I would consider moving there. I don’t know if I want to either, but right now I want to cast as many nets as I can.

    So…after my rambling, I would say Chicago for now. It’s home, and I love it. Other cities I would consider are San Francisco and Boston. And NYC…maybe.

    • Hi Samantha,

      Thanks for chiming in, and thanks for the compliment! Shantae and I are obsessed with shoes, so she created the banner to reflect our classy, sassy styles. I think it’s cute!

      You’re blessed to be located in a “happening” area. You’re in a great place, and a talented student like you should have no problem finding a job in Chicago! I wish you the best of luck.

      Thanks again!
      Rebecca

  6. Austin, Texas.

    It looks amazing…and I work from home aka form anywhere. Lived in NY my whole life and if I don’t get out, I’m going to start hurting my wall with my head…or my head with the wall, either way.

    Austin: Top city for golf, Top city to have a dog, part of silicon valley yes? So good for entrepreneurs, nice weather, laid back atmosphere, and holy shit is it cheap to live there compared to NY.

    That’s my next city.

    David
    Scribnia.com

    • Hi David,

      Wow! Austin sounds fabulous. Actually, I live in Northeast Ohio, and I believe it has the second largest amount of golf courses; it’s second to Myrtle Beach. It’s cheap, too. I think a round of golf at the course next to my parent’s house is $6.

      However, the snow keeps you from playing year round in Ohio, so it sounds like Austin is your best bet!

      Thanks for chiming in,
      Rebecca

  7. Rebecca,
    I went through the same thought process you did when I graduated in 2004. Lived in small town Minnesota and went to school in Iowa. I always dreamed of living in California. So 2 weeks after graduating I packed my car and drove to L.A. No job, no apartment. I struggled at first, but in the end, it was a great experience.

    So don’t let obstacles get in your way. Go where you want. You don’t want to wake up at 40 and wonder “what if”.

    • Wow, Kasey. Kudos to you for hitting the ground running and chasing your dream. It’s encouraging to hear it worked out for you.

      Thanks again for your comment!

      Rebecca

  8. rebecca – when i graduated from college i came back to cleveland to return to friends and family (plus a rent-free place from which i could job-hunt) :). but … i think while you are young you should try to live somewhere else for awhile. once a husband and children come along, you lose the easy mobility that you enjoy now as a fresh college grad.

    • Hi Kaye,

      Thank you for the advice; you make a great point. I guess being young has its advantages and disadvantages. Although I don’t have the financial stability of an older individual, I definitely have the mobility.

      Thanks for chiming in!

      Rebecca

  9. I graduated in May and moved to Maryland. I initially came for a post-graduate internship in Annapolis, but wasn’t concerned about moving away for an internship. Washington D.C., Baltimore and Annapolis are really close to each other in proximity, and I knew I could make the commute to either of the three cities if I got a full-time job down here. I ended up securing a full-time position at an agency in Baltimore. I’m so happy I moved to the area. I have access to so many things, and great opportunities. I see many job postings for the area every day. There’s a ton of potential for new grads here!

    • Thanks, Julie! I’m so glad you were able to secure a full-time position. You make PR Kent proud!

      Rebecca

  10. Rebecca,
    I don’t recall you asking me how I felt my senior year of college, yet you took the words out of my mouth (or thoughts out of my head). I’m sure you’re aware that the concerns you have are shared among all soon-to-be grads and recent grads. I agree with the previous suggestions of not limiting yourself to a certain area. I stayed in NEOhio because of my family. I was fortunate to find a position at an agency. I want to move to Charlotte – I love the area and there are plenty of opportunities for communications people.

    Good luck in whatever road you choose to take. Thanks for starting the conversation.

    • Hi Brandi,

      I’m glad I was able to address some of the same issues you were thinking about and considering as a senior. Congratulations again on your position at an NEO agency, and best of luck no matter where you end up in the future!

      Rebecca

  11. Rebecca –

    This is the first time I’ve visited your blog and can I just say – I love it! As a recent grad, I know exactly how you feel. I struggled with the same decision but ultimately decided to relocate to Chicago. The opportunities are amazing here, which makes the ridiculous cost of living completely worth it.

    When I graduated, I looked at jobs in Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Chicago, NYC and Dallas. Chicago was where I landed my first job offer, so I came here.

    Your post reminds me of some wise advice my grandfather gave my dad and then my dad gave to me. Your life is going to follow you wherever you decide to live, so you have to make the best of where you are.

    It may seem debatable but when it all boils down: A city is a city – with jobs, restaurants, stores, bars, gyms, libraries, etc. – you can find the essentials anywhere and everywhere. Sure some cities have more selections than others, but ultimately you are in control of your own happiness and that doesn’t have to be dependent on where you live.

    Good luck with your job search and your decision! Maybe I’ll see you in Chicago if fate brings you this way…There are some great firms out here.

    Best,
    Arielle

  12. Arielle,

    I’m so glad you like the blog!

    I felt all sappy when I read your comment because you’re right: A city is a city. Your life is what you make of it and happiness shouldn’t be dependent on your location. Living in Northeast Ohio for 21 years is a prime example of that! 🙂

    Perhaps I’ll be seeing you in Chicago. The city has some amazing opportunities! Best of luck to you!

    Thanks again,
    Rebecca

  13. Girls!

    First, I would like to express how proud I am of the two of you! This is a great topic that is near and dear to me. As you both know, I moved to the West Coast a few weeks ago to pursue PR in Tinseltown. Though it is expensive to live out here, you can make it work! Try sites like CraigsList.com for deals and unique living options (ie: rent a guest house in the Hollywood Hills) and also look for places near universities, the rent is always cheaper. Though not the most glamorous, it does the J-O-B. Remember to do what you love, the rest will fall into place. I look forward to read more from you ladies. Good Luck on your journey!!

    PS – West is best 😉

    Jenna

    • Jenna,

      First: Congrats on your move, West Coast chicka! We’re so proud of you!

      You make a good point: Big cities are expensive, but you can find ways to “make it work” (I put that in parentheses so I can sound like Tim Gunn) if you’re passionate about relocating to one. It’s crazy what a little ambition can do. 🙂

      Thanks again!

      Rebecca

  14. Well geez Rebecca…there goes my aspirations of moving out west, huh? Haha, great post with a lot of insightful information for soon to be grads like myself.

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy Columbus, it’s a great city…just a little too close to home for me.

  15. Holy cow, Rebecca. I arrived here pretty late — so late that I wonder if anyone save you and Shantae will see this comment. No matter.

    You’re wise to think about your favorite locations now, versus later. My choice after college was San Diego (thanks for a trip there in 1977), but I got a job offer in Michigan, then Pittsburgh, then Buffalo. All were an easy drive to my hometown and my family in Western Pa. Same for my wife, who is from Cleveland.

    Oh, yeah. I got married when I was just 23, so that complicated the decisions, for sure. Keep that in mind!

    Anyway, job opportunities, kids, and family enter into these decisions as life progresses. So there’s no better time to pick your “ideal” location than when you are 22 and unencumbered by such things. You first move leads to the next, and to the next. Forget the living costs. You’ll find a way.

    You’re sure to be a success, as you may be the only PR professional on the planet who knows the correct use of the word “comprise.”

    • Hi Bill,

      Thank you for stopping by the blog and sharing your advice. I’m thankful several soon-to-be grads, entry-level pros and seasoned professionals took the time to share their experiences. As I expected, everyone has a differing opinion.

      In this economy, it’s difficult to be picky. The thought of moving 1,000 miles from home is scary, but I think I could do it if I was moving for a job that fits my skills set (Chuck Hemann’s upcoming relocation to Austin is a great example.) You’re right; passing up an amazing opportunity by setting a narrow focus is irrational.

      The next four months of my life are full of life-changing decisions. I’ll assess each opportunity that comes my way, and I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of thinking and praying. I know it will all turn out in the end; it always does.

      Thanks again!

      Rebecca

  16. Columbus is indeed a great place for young, single professionals and has communities to eventually settle down in as well. It has the excitement of a bigger city and Ohio State sports, with the comfort of the genuineness of the midwest.


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