2015’s Best & Worst Cities to Start a Career

by John S Kiernan

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The struggles endured in recent years by America’s young people pale in comparison to those suffered by their peers in Spain and Greece, where youth unemployment in excess of 50 percent has spawned great social unrest. Still, finding a job in the U.S. — let alone laying the foundation for a long and prosperous career — is far from simple.

But there’s reason for optimism among the graduating class of 2015 and the scores of young people so disillusioned with the job market that they’ve given up their search for employment. Not only do more employers plan to hire recent college grads in 2015, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, but hiring in general is also on the rise.

Increased hiring obviously doesn’t guarantee employment, though. Young people still must learn how to maximize their marketability. In addition to customizing cover letters and making social media accounts safe for work, that could very well entail finding a new place to live and work. After all, employment opportunities vary significantly based on simple geography.

So, in order to help recent college graduates find the best cradles for their burgeoning careers, WalletHub analyzed the 150 largest U.S. cities. We used 19 key metrics to determine the relative strength of their job markets as well as the attractiveness of their social scenes and other factors important to job market entrants. A complete breakdown of our findings, a detailed methodology and expert financial management tips for young people can be found below.

Main Findings

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Overall Rank

City

“Professional Opportunities” Rank

“Quality of Life” Rank

1 Irving, TX 1 38
2 Grand Prairie, TX 2 49
3 Austin, TX 11 1
4 Denver, CO 8 13
5 Houston, TX 3 71
6 Corpus Christi, TX 4 82
7 Fremont, CA 9 31
8 Fort Worth, TX 7 41
9 Sioux Falls, SD 18 4
10 Tulsa, OK 5 61
11 Arlington, TX 10 46
12 Salt Lake City, UT 16 19
13 Minneapolis, MN 17 18
14 Dallas, TX 6 64
15 Des Moines, IA 15 36
16 Seattle, WA 25 7
17 Oklahoma City, OK 12 44
18 Aurora, CO 12 47
19 Plano, TX 22 15
20 Omaha, NE 27 6
21 Nashville, TN 29 9
22 Anchorage, AK 24 17
23 Raleigh, NC 37 2
24 San Francisco, CA 19 39
25 St. Paul, MN 21 35
26 Amarillo, TX 25 40
27 Pittsburgh, PA 28 37
28 Overland Park, KS 39 16
29 Charlotte, NC 45 14
30 Durham, NC 38 24
31 Washington, DC 32 43
32 Oakland, CA 14 105
33 Madison, WI 63 3
34 Chandler, AZ 41 25
35 San Jose, CA 31 57
36 San Antonio, TX 34 58
37 Irvine, CA 66 10
38 Tacoma, WA 23 96
39 Tempe, AZ 46 29
40 Colorado Springs, CO 70 12
41 Garland, TX 30 76
42 Boise, ID 79 5
43 Portland, OR 65 23
44 Lincoln, NE 78 8
45 Boston, MA 36 67
46 Columbus, OH 64 27
47 Reno, NV 62 30
48 Gilbert, AZ 56 34
49 Miami, FL 20 118
50 Scottsdale, AZ 69 26
51 Atlanta, GA 81 20
52 Tampa, FL 70 33
53 Huntington Beach, CA 58 42
54 Kansas City, MO 47 55
55 Knoxville, TN 40 72
56 Santa Clarita, CA 53 51
57 Virginia Beach, VA 89 22
58 San Diego, CA 85 28
59 El Paso, TX 33 112
60 Fontana, CA 52 59
61 Aurora, IL 53 60
62 Oxnard, CA 44 86
63 Phoenix, AZ 59 63
64 Louisville, KY 51 74
T-65 Pembroke Pines, FL 73 52
T-65 Peoria, AZ 67 56
67 Grand Rapids, MI 67 62
68 Lexington, KY 112 11
69 Mesa, AZ 55 80
70 Greensboro, NC 86 45
71 St. Petersburg, FL 61 77
72 Cincinnati, OH 59 88
73 Orlando, FL 115 21
74 Jersey City, NJ 48 108
75 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 106 32
76 Lubbock, TX 76 66
77 Fort Lauderdale, FL 70 81
78 Richmond, VA 56 99
79 Laredo, TX 43 124
80 Anaheim, CA 50 116
81 Chesapeake, VA 91 68
82 Huntsville, AL 103 54
83 Sacramento, CA 107 53
84 Worcester, MA 48 125
85 Brownsville, TX 34 148
86 Santa Rosa, CA 90 73
87 Albuquerque, NM 111 50
88 Glendale, AZ 77 95
89 Yonkers, NY 42 135
90 Vancouver, WA 87 78
91 Bakersfield, CA 95 75
92 Indianapolis, IN 105 69
93 Long Beach, CA 74 109
94 Jacksonville, FL 101 79
95 Wichita, KS 101 89
96 Norfolk, VA 94 93
97 Tallahassee, FL 98 91
98 Los Angeles, CA 87 101
99 Moreno Valley, CA 82 117
100 Baton Rouge, LA 91 102
101 Honolulu, HI 95 107
102 Garden Grove, CA 75 129
103 Fort Wayne, IN 99 104
104 Santa Ana, CA 79 128
105 Chicago, IL 97 111
106 Riverside, CA 108 94
107 Newport News, VA 110 98
108 Memphis, TN 93 126
109 St. Louis, MO 122 85
110 Oceanside, CA 109 121
111 Winston-Salem, NC 120 90
112 Cape Coral, FL 125 84
113 New Orleans, LA 133 70
114 North Las Vegas, NV 129 83
115 Chula Vista, CA 119 97
116 Chattanooga, TN 104 133
117 Spokane, WA 122 99
118 Glendale, CA 112 119
119 New York, NY 114 120
120 Henderson, NV 141 48
121 Tucson, AZ 118 115
122 Birmingham, AL 84 145
123 Springfield, MO 127 103
124 Ontario, CA 121 113
125 Newark, NJ 83 147
126 Little Rock, AR 131 110
127 Rochester, NY 131 114
128 Hialeah, FL 100 143
129 Baltimore, MD 116 132
130 Buffalo, NY 136 92
131 Las Vegas, NV 146 65
132 Providence, RI 128 130
133 Fayetteville, NC 142 87
134 Philadelphia, PA 130 131
135 San Bernardino, CA 117 140
136 Montgomery, AL 137 127
137 Jackson, MS 124 146
138 Port St. Lucie, FL 147 106
139 Shreveport, LA 135 139
140 Akron, OH 126 150
141 Milwaukee, WI 147 122
142 Mobile, AL 133 149
143 Modesto, CA 138 141
144 Augusta, GA 149 123
145 Cleveland, OH 139 137
146 Stockton, CA 140 136
147 Columbus, GA 142 138
148 Toledo, OH 144 142
149 Fresno, CA 150 134
150 Detroit, MI 145 144

Best-&-Worst-Cities-to-Start-a-Career-Artwork

Ask The Experts

Finding a place to settle down can be just as challenging as choosing a career path. To help recent college grads and job seekers with such decisions, we turned to a panel of career experts for advice. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:

  1. How important is the city one chooses to start a career?
  2. What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?
  3. What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?
  4. What can young job applicants do to get an edge?
  5. Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?
  6. What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

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  • Katherine Connor Executive Director of Career Development at University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business
  • Andrew Tessmer Assistant Director of Career Development at Rice University
  • Sean Johnson Adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  • Ann M. Garner Associate Director of Career Development at George Mason University
  • Nick Shaklee Career Counselor at University of Colorado Denver
  • Dana Wehrli Director of Career Development at Lindenwood University
  • Paul Tanklefsky Director of the Career Development Center at Suffolk University
  • Kathryn Jackson Director of the Career Development Center at Loyola University Chicago
  • Trudy Steinfeld AVP & Executive Director of Wasserman Center for Career Development at New York University
  • John Kniering Director of Career Services at University of Hartford
  • Julia Min Hwang Assistant Dean of MBA Career Management Group and Corporate Engagement at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
  • Katsufumi Araki Academic Office Coordinator in the Department of Counseling at San Francisco State University
  • Robin Darmon Director of Career Services at University of San Diego
  • Julie J. Ruthenbeck Director of Career Development at Angelo State University
  • Julee Bertsch Program Director for Alumni Career Services at Bucknell University
  • Kim Goad Director of Career Development at Butler University, College of Business
  • Barbara Hewitt Senior Associate Director of Career Services at The University of Pennsylvania
  • Eric Bono Assistant Dean for Career Opportunities in the Office of Career Development and Opportunities at University of Denver, Sturm College of Law
  • Bryan Barts Interim Director of Career Services at University of Wisconsin-Stout
  • Lynne Sebille-White Director of Career Advancement in the Pomerantz Career Center at University Of Iowa
  • Sue Harbour Associate Director of University Career Services at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Joe Hayes Assistant Director, Employer Relations & Internships, Academic & Career Development Center, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Katie Wessel Assistant Director, Career Advising, Academic & Career Development Center at University of Nebraska at Omaha

Katherine Connor

Executive Director of Career Development at University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business
Katherine Connor
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Given the mobility of today’s workforce and the increasing flexibility of employers, this is much less important than it used to be. That being said, for certain careers – such as finance, technology, biotech, start-ups – there are cities that are obviously hubs, so it is better to start in one of them. Again, depending on your interests and focus, it is generally easier to move from a larger market (such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco) to a smaller one, than vice versa.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

You have to network! Particularly if you’re moving to a city where you haven’t lived before and don’t have strong connections with family and friends. Use LinkedIn and your college’s alumni network to help you connect with people who can make introductions for informational interviews. LinkedIn is a great resource. Make sure your profile is up to date and start reaching out! Attend alumni events, join professional groups and attend events or conferences in your field.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

New graduates are very interested in health and well-being and work-life “integration.” Cities with open space, trails, bike lanes, and good transit options are all appealing. Companies with benefits, such as gym memberships or in-house facilities for exercise are appealing. Opportunities for team-building, socializing and giving back, through sporting events or community involvement are also attractive.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Be open-minded, curious, and willing to do what it takes. Be willing to get started at a job that may not be the perfect job, in order to prove yourself and move up to that perfect position. Strong tech and quantitative skills, such as programming, digital media, SEO/SEM, data analytics, can be a plus for entry-level jobs. However, if you are smart, personable, and willing to learn, companies can teach you these. Before any kind of interaction with a company, make sure you do your homework! Know why you want to work there and what you bring to the table that can help them.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Always do your best work and build relationships with your colleagues and clients. You may have a long, successful career, but change companies, locations, and industries. After your first job, your next steps will be based on the relationships you have formed and the respect you have earned from the people you have worked with.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

Putting more emphasis on brand name and location than the people who you are working with. Whether the company is big, or small, well-known or unknown, working with people who you like and respect can make a big difference. Find a place where you can learn and grow and a boss that will invest in you – that is a great place to start!

Andrew Tessmer

Assistant Director of Career Development at Rice University
Andrew Tessmer
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

I think that the city you choose to start a career can be very important, depending on what area of industry one plans on entering. For example, if you are looking to get involved with aerospace engineering, there are a limited number of companies/agencies that are involved in this field and the city in which these are clustered would be ideal for an individual looking to begin their career.

Also, looking into average salary and cost of living in the city is important. If you are hoping to eventually settle in Manhattan and begin your career in rural North Dakota, you may be negatively impacted by the lower salary and cost of living once you move to Manhattan, where employers may offer you less than someone who had already been receiving a higher salary for comparable work in San Francisco, for example.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

I would strongly encourage anyone applying for opportunities in a different city to engage and leverage their network in that region. Seek out alumni from your school who work in the industry or the specific company you are applying to. One of the best tools for this is LinkedIn. If you are involved in a regional or national professional association, check to see if there is a regional branch in the area in which you are applying. They are great networking/job opportunities. I would also encourage the applicant to learn more about the city’s culture, as they will be better able to see if the city would be a good fit for their desired lifestyle.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

Corporations can attract and retain recent graduates by participating in organizations that involve both community and business leaders to market the city as a place for new talent to go. Here, in Houston, we have the Greater Houston Partnership, which is comprised of more than 1,200 member companies, and attracts community-minded business leaders who want to be involved in Houston's positive growth and influence the direction in which Houston is going. By having corporations collaborate with each other to create a thriving business community, talented new graduates will follow.

Also, city leaders also need to keep in mind the economic development of the city. Creating a welcoming climate for new business is crucial. For example, in Houston, the Office of the Mayor has a specific Economic Development Division dedicated to promoting City initiatives and economic tools to business owners interested in relocating or expanding their companies in the City of Houston.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Young applicants should learn to sell their skills and experience better. Many times, the undergraduate students I work with will sell themselves short. They may say, “oh, that was just a summer job I had to earn some extra money” or “that was only a project for a class I took.” Learning to market your experiences and skills is essential in making you competitive with those that may have more experiences.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Though the majority of those reading this article will not stay with the same company that they began with right out of college, if you so desire, you can make a lasting career with any organization. In order to turn the entry-level job into something greater, you need to go above and beyond the job duties for that role. Learn about the organizational culture, take time to participate in professional development activities, shadow people in different areas of the organization in your spare time. Try to get a sense of what the next move would be and find out how to get there. I would urge you to be an active learner and a willing contributor to both those on your team and those outside of your team. Think about how you could collaborate with others outside of your area to really make an impact in your organization.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

I think one of the major career mistakes young people make is not negotiating their compensation package for their first position. That said, there are many companies, especially the larger ones, where there is a defined starting salary with little room for negotiation. Your first position has significant influence on your future earning potential, particularly if you plan on staying within a similar role throughout your career. Especially with the current labor market, recent graduates are excited to get any opportunity to avoid moving back in with their parents. However, I advise my students not to sell themselves short. Learn what you are worth and seek out positions that will compensate you well. If the organization does not value your worth now, do you think that will change throughout your career there? Young people also need to look at the big picture, and think long term instead of short term. Salary, job title, location are important, but always consider the larger picture.

Sean Johnson

Adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
Sean Johnson
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Less important than it used to be. I still think that the New York, Silicon Valley, etc. have a huge nexus of talent and opportunity that's hard to come by otherwise. The networks you have access to are a huge accelerant. But you can build a viable career anywhere - just might require that you work harder.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Unless it's specifically a remote opportunity, being remote can be a hindrance. Have a physical address in the city you're looking to be in. Use a PO Box or a friend's place on your resume. Don't apply if you're not willing to fly or drive out there. Don't mention you're moving until they offer you the job (if you're hoping to be reimbursed).

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

For companies, it's hard to go wrong with Dan Pink's framework - offer mastery, autonomy and purpose. It's rarely just about the money. Smart talents want to be challenged, have opportunities to become awesome at something, and contribute to something meaningful.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

A combination of aggressively building your network and aggressively building your portfolio. Most hires happen through networks - a warm intro immediately takes you out of the stack of hundreds of resumes and earns you an interview. So never waste a breakfast or lunch - constantly be meeting new people, asking them who else they know that's interesting. Join a networking group and get involved. And constantly be creating things - become active on Twitter, start a blog, put your code on Github and your design work on Dribbble. Show you can do the work.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

First, when you're in the office do what I call Microvation - look for opportunities to turn crappy projects into transformative ones. Start a lunch and learn series at your office. Create a company newsletter. Lead the charge to become a more process-driven company. Spearhead a knowledge sharing initiative. Become known as someone who can identify ways to make the organization better and can actually execute on it.

Second, when you're out of the office spend time getting better. Learn new skills. Create a website and use it as a sandbox for trying stuff. Again, aggressively network, help out others, keep in touch. Read a book a week. Never stop improving - use time, while others are binge watching Game of Thrones to become better at what you do.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

They assume it's their bosses (or their HR department's) job to plan their career for them. Your economic value and your career prospects are entirely on you. Stay humble, work harder than everyone else, always be learning, and prioritize networking and you'll be fine. Show up from 9-5, doing what you're told but no more, and making no effort to improve yourself and you'll have problems.

Ann M. Garner

Associate Director of Career Development at George Mason University
Ann M. Garner
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

I think the answer to that question lies with the person who is making the career decision. If you want to start a career in government, Washington DC is a good city to start your career. However, if your field is animation or film, Los Angeles is a better city to start your career. The answer lies in where the most opportunities are given your field or industry of interest.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Network like crazy! I would encourage job seekers to have created a LinkedIn profile, join groups in their field of interest and follow companies. Another important strategy is to identify alumni working in the city you want to work in and start making connections. Request an informational interview to learn more about them, how they got their first professional position, what advice they would give you as a long distance job seeker, etc.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

Recent college graduates want to learn and contribute to organizations. I would encourage corporations to create relationships with local universities and establish internship programs where they can brand their organizations with students; students can build experience and learn about working for the organization while they are in school; and the corporation can create a pipeline of talent so that when the students graduate, the corporation will already have an established pool of talent from which to choose.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Job applicants can focus on building skills in the classroom (through research projects and presentations), in student organizations on campus and through volunteering. Students can work with their college career counselor or local recruiter to leverage the skills so that they stand out on a resume. And, when the student is ready to incorporate an internship experience into their portfolio, their college career center can help them identify employers who will help them enhance their skills, interests and goals.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Never stop learning. While someone may be a recent graduate, that doesn’t mean their learning is complete. In order for the U.S. workforce to stay competitive and relevant in this economy, one must stay current on the trends in their industry and continue to acquire new knowledge and skills to help their company or organization solve its problems.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

The biggest mistake I see recent graduates make is assuming a lack of boundaries between them and their boss. I’ve seen recent graduates demonstrate a communication style that is too familiar (both written and oral) and make assumptions about how quickly they should be able to receive more responsibility within the organization. None of these mistakes are career-ending, but recent graduates need to be open to feedback from supervisors and mentors to help navigate the path of organizational life.

Nick Shaklee

Career Counselor at University of Colorado Denver
Nick Shaklee
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

In my opinion, the city a person chooses to start a career isn’t as important as the career itself. This is to not be misinterpreted, however. I do believe that the city you choose to start your career is important because of the contacts a person can develop, how abundant resources and opportunities are, and how location can affect happiness and personal connectedness. However, the opportunity itself is more important in my eyes because of what it leads to. We know that most people will be changing positions roughly 5 times before they are 30 years old. With this in mind, the position is more important because of how it relates to professional development and obtainment of professional goals. Careers are a journey that builds on itself. Thus, finding the right position that helps develop the skills a professional needs to be valuable in the economy is more important than the city where you develop them.

The right location for an individual can be obtained once more career capital is developed and the professional has relevant skills and experience that allows them to make the move to a city that is more in line with the person’s identity and career goals. We all don’t have the “perfect” job right after college. It takes time to build the qualities that get notices and respected in a field.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Research! Research is always important in a job search. However, when looking for opportunities in other states this tip is even more important. Not only do you need to research the company, their staff, and how your skills fit the employer’s need. You also need to research the city in greater detail; things like cost of living, competitive salary ranges, transportation, culture/demographics and how these relate to the position or market, available resources, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and how the political/economic landscape relates to your industry and identity. Don’t forget to research if this new city possesses elements that connect to your own health, wellness, identity, and self-expression. Careers are important but a worker is no use to an employer if they don’t feel connected.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

One of the biggest things corporations can do to attract recent grads is to show fresh grads the balance of life and work within their organizations. From my experience with students, I have seen the pattern of students being less concerned with the name or prestige of the company and more concerned with other components that reflect their identity and a good work-life balance. When talking about work-life balance I am not just talking about paid time off or good medical benefits (although, recent grads still desire these as well). Recent grads are more concerned with being able to meaningfully connect to their co-workers and their role in a company; contributing to their communities in meaningful ways is a core motivator for young professionals. They desire opportunities to tie their personal goals and skills into strong outcomes for the company they are a part of. Recent college grads want a sense of purpose and meaning so I believe employers can retain and attract young talent by showing they can foster this sense of belonging and purpose for the young professional.

I also believe that policy makers and employers can provide more meaningful ways of training the workforce. Training programs have become almost non-existent in recent decades because employers are no longer investing in their employers. In today’s economy, most employers want their new hires to be ready and prepared for this new opportunity through the individuals own faculties and self-guided development. They believe the worker needs to invest in their own skills by taking on opportunities and experiences that develop what the worker is seeking. The difficult element is that both the worker and the employer are not seeing eye-to-eye. The employer wants workers who are skilled and ready to hit the ground running, while workers are looking to adjust their existing skills in relation to this new opportunity, develop new skills through this opportunity, and learn how to be as effective as possible in their new role through the training process they believe they will receive from the employer.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Know the skills that are essential and sought after by employers in your field and gain experience developing these skills. Obtain internships, part-time/full-time employment, actively involve yourself in clubs and organizations, volunteer, and generally get experience that can be used in gaining new employment. Many college students believe that their degree is what they can leverage to gain employment. While employers are looking for related experiences to hire a candidate, one is not more important than the other. As a result of these being hand-in-hand, every young job applicant should think about their direction and if they are developing the skills they want out of themselves, as well as what their industry needs out of them. Go get involved! It’s the best way to build your self-identity, develop long lasting skills and relationships.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Show your team and supervisors that you want more and you can get along with team mates. If you want to get noticed and turn a job into a career path, take on new challenges. Be a change agent in any role you are in. It is no longer acceptable to just do a job. Employers want innovative thinkers that make a meaningful impact and bring change to their organization for the better. If you can produce change, take on new challenges, and get along with co-workers while do this, you will be able to have a successful career regardless of industry because that is what employers are desperately seeking.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

I believe one of the biggest pitfalls young professionals are prone to making is their professional behavior. It stems from their attitudes and professional etiquette through the entire professional experience. From job searching to working in teams and networking, attitude says a lot about a person. I have encountered young professionals that feel entitled to their job and that they are doing their employer a favor by being there, while in reality, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship that has certain expectations built into it; each needs the other to operate within these expectations in order to survive.

The attitude of entitlement or arrogance can be very detrimental to professional growth. When any person approaches their work with the attitude of entitlement, they begin building barriers between themselves, company and professional goals, and their teams or network. A large part of the professional world is being able to connect and work within teams to achieve goals (or expectations). If one of your team-members is pushy, snobby, or a “know-it-all”, the process of discovering new ideas and means of achievement are hindered. Dealing with personnel conflicts or slow, inadequate business processes as a result of negative behaviors is the last thing employers want to deal with. Not to mention this type of attitude will “burn bridges” and significantly damage this young professionals reputation. Reputation is the corner stone to networking and advancing a career.

Thus, this pitfall has serious consequences not only in their immediate employment but also later on down the road. Let’s be honest, who wants to work with or support a difficult, entitled, know-it-all team member?

Dana Wehrli

Director of Career Development at Lindenwood University
Dana Wehrli
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

For some disciplines, location is everything. For example, students majoring in fashion design may want to focus their job search in areas like New York City, Paris, or Milan because even though many universities confer degrees in fashion design, the best prospects for employment are in these cities.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Identify a couple of universities in the city you are moving to and ask your Career Center to write a letter requesting reciprocal career services from that university. Most universities will provide some level of service or certain resources to you as a professional courtesy.

Reach out to your Alumni Relations department to inquire about whether or not there are any alumni living in that city that you could connect with.

Chambers of Commerce are a wealth of information, too. Most Chambers have up to date lists of local employers with contact information for key execs and they can also tell you about any new organizations that may be coming to the area.

And don’t forget about social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook are all great tools that, if used properly, can absolutely help you connect with employers in other cities. Facebook alone reaches approximately 73% of internet users in the United States each month.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

It’s important to know your audience. Millennials tend to gravitate toward cities and companies with strong brand recognition offering a work/life balance, a culture that fits their values and opportunities to advance. Yes, compensation and benefits matter, but they aren’t the primary focus for this generation of workers.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Enroll in a career planning course if your university offers one during your junior year.

Make paid internships or co-ops a priority, even if your major doesn’t require them. Research shows that approximately 52% of students who take advantage of paid internship opportunities are offered and accept a full-time job from the organization they completed their internship with.

Tailor your resume for each position that you apply for. It’s time consuming, but definitely worth it. Join professional associations. Most of these organizations offer a reduced student rate for joining and it’s a great way to connect with professionals in your target industry.

Take advantage of all of the resources, services and events offered by your college career center.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Attitude is everything. Employers tell us that they hire and promote initiative driven, enthusiastic employees with positive attitudes. The first few months on the job are critical. If you want to be taken seriously, speak, write, act, and dress like a professional at all times. On time for work is 15 minutes early.

Your job is to make your supervisor and your organization look good and in order to do that, you’ll want to have a solid understanding of what your employer expects from you. Take advantage of all training programs and find out when and how you’re going to be evaluated. Find a mentor; ask for and accept feedback. Never ever speak negatively about your employer, especially on social media.

Be flexible and open to change. Expect change. It’s not unusual for the average employee to change jobs six or seven times in course of a career. Companies close, positions are eliminated and new jobs emerge every day. In order to make successful work transitions, you have to commit to lifelong learning. Read the newspaper and professional journals, enroll in additional courses, join professional associations, and stay up to date on the latest trends in your specialty.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

I often hear from entry-level candidates, “How am I supposed to get experience if no one will hire me?” Some candidates may be tempted to stretch their qualifications a bit in order to get a foot in the door. Without a doubt, the biggest mistake that a candidate could ever make is misrepresenting their qualifications for employment.

We’ve all seen the news articles about high profile professionals who lost their job because they lied about their education or experience. This sort of thing doesn’t just happen to celebrities, it happens to entry level candidates as well. It’s not OK to say, “I’m bilingual,” if you’ve only had a few semesters of Spanish. If you say, “Proficient in MS Office,” and don’t know the first thing about spreadsheets, that’s misrepresentation and it’s an absolute deal breaker. You can always sharpen your skills or add a new credential if need be; but it’s difficult - if not impossible - to rebuild a reputation once it’s been tarnished.

Paul Tanklefsky

Director of the Career Development Center at Suffolk University
Paul Tanklefsky
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

It’s less about the city and more about launching your career in the arena of interest – the opportunity to get the right experience, develop relevant skills in your field, learn under tutelage of a mentor/supervisor, and build your professional presence and network. Most large cities are comprised of a broad mix of industries to tap virtually any interest.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Pick a city or two and focus on finding a job in those targeted cities – looking for jobs everywhere and anywhere will make for a disparate, scattered, and frustrating campaign.

If it’s a long distance job search (i.e., living in Los Angeles, wanting to work in Boston) and you are committed to finding something in the locale of choice, make it a local job search – consider relocating and commencing your job search as a "local" resident or arrange a timeframe (i.e., week of June 15) when you will be in the targeted area and work diligently to arrange informational meetings, networking events, and job interviews.

Such an investment of time and money speaks loudly to employers of your commitment to relocate to the area.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

Policy makers and corporations can work to make their cities more millennial friendly – for example, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce has worked with local corporations and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to launch internhub.com, a local site for employers to post internship opportunities, secure talent, and retain recent graduates. Additionally, the city of Boston has extended the hours of public transportation and supported music venues and meet ups.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Securing and leveraging internships – it’s critical. They provide relevant experiences, marketable skills, a network, and a professional readiness that provides job seekers with a competitive advantage.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Identify your passion, find work in the field/arena, and run with it.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

They get anxious about being in limbo (graduated, no job) and settle for the first opportunity that comes around without real thought, reflection, and consideration of it it’s really the right fit and feel buyer’s remorse soon thereafter.

Being clear about your launch – the industry and/or functional career niche of interest – and keeping your eye on the prize until you get there, will keep you on track.

Kathryn Jackson

Director of the Career Development Center at Loyola University Chicago
Kathryn Jackson
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Critical. Whether you're conducting an international job search or need to remain in the same county, the place you choose to start a career has a significant impact on most parts of your life. Depending on your stage in life, the place you decide to start your career needs to be able to meet your needs as a whole person -- not just as an employee. For some people that means finding people or micro-communities which share your interests or affordable child care or access to a major transportation hub -- it is different for everyone, but all of these things (and more) matter!

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Make sure that the salary you are seeking can pay for your preferred standard of living in a different city! For example, a studio apartment in New York (Manhattan) is going to cost 2-3 times more than a studio apartment in Chicago -- that is a big difference! Similarly, what you may earn in Chicago can purchase a lot more in Abingdon (VA) so negotiating your new salary might not have to be so intense. There are multiple, free calculators on the internet which can help any candidate calculate the economic differences in standards of living across the country -- use them!

Also, if you know you are "climbing" the ladder of your field or industry, it would be a good use of time to research your industry in a preferred city, not just one job or one employer. Should you ever need or want to make a job change, be sure there is somewhere else to go without having to move (again).

Finally, if you are serious about relocating to a different city, it is very important to visit the city as a potential resident -- not a tourist. Skip the cute coffee shops or museums and head for residential neighborhoods or perhaps near the targeted employer, so that you can see where people park their cars, eat their lunches, or catch the bus. This is also a situation where informational interviewing may be applied -- locate other alumni or members of your sorority/fraternity and ask them about their experience with this employer and/or in this city.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

Regarding policy makers, the variables I hear about a lot with young job seekers fall into 2 major categories: taxes and public transportation. For example, I live in Chicago, Illinois, (and love it) but our taxes have encouraged some people to job search in other states. New graduates who do not have children or a partner to take into consideration can move almost anywhere and to them, being able to afford a condo and/or get around easily (perhaps without a car) are important factors when weighing a job search decision.

Corporations need to offer new graduates a clear path for advancement, an inviting corporate culture, and the potential opportunity for an advanced degree via either tuition remission and/or work-life balance (to fit studies into a hectic schedule). The data is clear that people with advanced education have a lower risk for long-term unemployment and avoiding that is on everyone's mind these days.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Young job applicants are up against a challenging job search environment right now for many reasons. First, while we anticipate the retirement of many baby boomers, it hasn't happened yet -- it is a waiting game right now for young graduates.

Second, many employers and recruiters don't feel that candidates new to the job market have a good sense of their own work-place preparedness. Recent data indicates that young job seekers perceive themselves as more qualified than the recruiters do -- this is a serious disconnect.

Young job seeks need to have a realistic understanding of what he/she/they can offer employers -- not an overinflated one, as well as be able to tell a good story about their passion(s), skills, and experiences. Having skills and experiences will not help anyone if he/she/they cannot present those experiences in an articulate and engaging manner.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?
  1. Become the easiest, most pleasant person to work with -- the undisputed king or queen of collaboration. No one can speak poorly about that person!
  2. Obtain at least one good mentor who will challenge you appropriately as well as push you in your interests and thoughts.
  3. Understand and embrace the reality that it is a very small world so be good to everyone you meet because you never know who is going to be on the other side of the door the next time you're walking into an interview, board meeting, or client presentation!
What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

Hands down, speaking poorly about a colleague behind his/her/their back. Whether this happens at a conference, on social media, to other people who are not known well, over the telephone in a public space (i.e. airport) it is never, ever a good choice. What might be an attempt to gain sympathy, empathy, or a laugh, can backfire horrifically! I've seen this behavior result in instant terminations (i.e., return to work on Monday and your door is locked and your key does not work!), the cold shoulder from colleagues, etc. Find one, trusted person to vent to and then save the rest for a therapist, journal, or personal trainer!

Trudy Steinfeld

AVP & Executive Director of Wasserman Center for Career Development at New York University
Trudy Steinfeld
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Graduates should seek employment in locations that interest them or, if they have some established connections, that can be helpful in finding employment and/or can help with adjusting. There are certain cities that are known for certain industries (e.g. NYC - financial services, advertising, Washington D.C. - government, policy, professional and trade organizations, LA - entertainment) and if a job seeker is especially interested in a certain industry then location can be an important factor.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Leverage your network: alumni, family, LinkedIn. Try to set up a visit and plan interviews, even if they are only exploratory. While there, visit various neighborhoods and make sure you could see yourself living there.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

All employers are looking for good, smart people with a variety of skill sets. Make sure to distinguish yourself and highlight your hard and soft skills. Back it up with experience and innovative thinking and make sure to follow up.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

I think that today's graduates will have multiple careers in a variety of industries. Wherever you work, work hard, be the go to and invest in relationships that can lead to your next opportunity.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

Not following up with employers and not strategically targeting potential employers who may not have jobs listed, but may be aware of upcoming talent needs.

John Kniering

Director of Career Services at University of Hartford
John Kniering
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Often, microeconomies make a big difference, as they represent clusters of industries that “grow together” over many years. For example, the “research triangle” of Raleigh-Durham, NC and the media-rich environment of Atlanta, GA hold many career possibilities for graduating science and communication majors. That said, it’s important to remember that the driving force of our economy is globalization. There are, in fact, many places that a graduate interested in marketing, for example, might work -- and only some of them are in the U.S.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Review and use the website of the city or region’s Chamber of Commerce. Contact people who work for it and get advice and ideas. Visit if you can. Identify and use state and local directories of industries and employers (e.g., the state production directory for media professionals). Develop your LinkedIn presence and connect with fellow alumni and people who work in the industries/locations in which you have an interest.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

Create “young professionals” organizations within the city or region. Ensure a robust online presence for the municipality — Chambers, Arts Councils, Industrial Organizations, etc. Create internship opportunities for students currently studying in the area.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Network, using LinkedIn and other social media. See if your college has an alumni organization within the area. Be very selective about how you spend your time! The worst approach is to “be open to anything.” Focus on organizations and industries that represent your strengths and career interests.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Become a generalist. Express an interest in the entire organization and take on projects that may not necessarily reside in your department. Develop a network of mentors.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

Failing to realize that their unique skills and talents are necessarily different from those of others. Look at it as an “adoption” process — you have to find a good home for your skills and strengths. Spending years becoming merely competent at things you hate doing is not a good strategy. It’s important to have fun.

Julia Min Hwang

Assistant Dean of MBA Career Management Group and Corporate Engagement at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
Julia Min Hwang
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Choosing the right city can make a major difference in starting a successful career. Some cities have done a tremendous job of attracting the most talented, creative young people because they can offer them a wide array of opportunities with great, cutting-edge firms and other organizations – and a great lifestyle.

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of these magnet metro areas; Boston, New York, Austin, Seattle are among many others. Find out which one of these areas interest you. If you locate to a place that offers an abundance of professional and personal opportunities at the start of your career, you will have more and better choices throughout your life.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Do your research on the cities that will offer you the most opportunities and a comfortable lifestyle for you. You will need to make a good case to the interviewer why you want to relocate to her city. You will also need to explain how you see yourself creating a flourishing life in that city.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

City officials and the local business community should work together on policies to create a vibrant, thriving economic climate. Here in the Bay Area, when California Governor Jerry Brown was Mayor of Oakland, he created a plan to revitalize the city with new construction and to bring thousands of new residents to the city center. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee implemented a tax-break for companies to settle in an under-utilized section of San Francisco, attracting firms such as Twitter. In both cases, these policies have also led to a boom in new residential construction, attracting waves of talented people to move to these cities.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

They say it's not what you know, but who you know. In reality, it's not who you know. It's who knows you. Applicants with the best relationships inside a company have the edge. If someone inside the company can point to the resume of a recent grad and say, "I know her -- she's amazing," then there's a better chance of her landing an interview than if no one advocated for her. Consequently, young job applicants should spend time building relationships with people who work at the companies that interest them.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Set clear goals going into a new job. In their book "The Alliance", Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh propose that employees create an engaging "tour of duty" with their managers. This means discussing how the employee can contribute to the goals of the organization or team while building skills and experience desired by the employee. The tour lasts anywhere from two to five years, with opportunities for future tours down the line. Alternatively, if the employee decides to leave the company after the tour, it will cause minimal disruption to the company.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

Focusing on doing a good job and working hard at the expense of building relationships across their company. Getting to know people and creating a strong internal network will make a big difference.

Katsufumi Araki

Academic Office Coordinator in the Department of Counseling at San Francisco State University
Katsufumi Araki
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

There are many startup companies in the Bay Area (especially around the Silicon Valley). However, the competition level is very high that a chance of getting a full time job, I believe, is not as good as other states. I started my career here when I took a temp job as a proxy research analyst. After that, it took me almost a year and half to find the current job at SFSU. There are so many people who are looking for either permanent part-time or full-time jobs, but they are currently working temp job after and after. Also, let’s not forget that the cost of living is among the highest in the nation. For one to start his or her career in the Bay Area, he or she would have to make at least minimum $50,000 a year; otherwise, rent, food and commuting to work would eat up all of his or her earning. I agree that the Bay Area is one of the most popular and great place to live, but it may not be the best place to start his or her career.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

I believe that the key is a willingness to do anything that employers ask for (most likely tasks that others do not want to do). No matter where job seekers go, there will always be jobs (but these jobs are not desirable for them). They need to start somewhere, so I say “take any job available. Do not be unemployed for a long time; it could kill your career” (I was once a janitor for a year because I could not find any job that I was seeking).

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

For the Bay Area cities and companies, they would probably do not have to do anything since the competition level is so high. There are plenty of new graduates every year looking for jobs in the Bay Area.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Advanced degree, such as MA, MS will open more doors for them (of course, they have to make sure that they are receiving legitimate degrees; not phony ones). We can no longer say that the advanced degree is luxury; it is almost becoming a necessity for a new generation. I have also witnessed that many professionals who do not have advanced degrees are coming back to school to obtain MA or MS even though they have already built their careers.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Yes, as I mentioned earlier, the key is a willingness to do anything with 100% of their skills. Employers do like to see their employees trying, and it makes employers feel that they hired the right people. I was once a janitor at a construction site; as I cleaned bathrooms, I also started helping organizing work place. I had no idea of construction, but as I watched and helped workers, I started acquiring carpenter skills, welding skills, plumbing skills, and concrete skills. By the end of year, I was hired as a contractor (full-time) by the major construction company. I stayed with the company for 5 year before I came to the Unites States.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

One of the biggest career mistakes, I think, is, again, not being willing to try hard. Employers always watch employees behavior, and they like to see their employees trying hard. Hard working people are always rewarded sooner or later - even if their employers are not recognizing them, someone will, and reward will come to them, believe or not. I have seen many younger generation (yes, I admit that they have different work ethics and standards), but I have seen that there are some young people who believe in these hard working ethics - I always reward them without telling them directly. First, they wonder why they get the raise or promotion, but they soon realize that their hard working has paid off.

Robin Darmon

Director of Career Services at University of San Diego
Robin Darmon
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

What is truly important to you? Location is very important in the sense that you a) want to be in a geographic location that works well for your own goals or b) need to be located where the career “hub” is. For example, if entertainment is your passion you may have to focus on LA as a starting place for your career. If investment banking is your passion, then you may have to look at NYC or London or Singapore as a place to launch your career.

On the other hand, if there is a certain place that you just really desire to live, then you may have to flip the equation and find jobs that you are excited about that are in that location. You may have to choose location or industry. As Oprah has said, you can have it all, but not necessarily all at the same time!

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Use LinkedIn to the fullest. Get the Job Seeker Premium. Get connected with alumni and friends in the city that you’re focused on. Get savvy about using LinkedIn’s connections and job board to penetrate positions of interest.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

Know this generation. They’re not like boomers or even GenXers. Are we creating cities that allow for community-building in addition to vibrant business? Are there opportunities to walk to work and be outdoors and engage in group activities? Do we have sustainability as a priority in our communities? The more that city policy makers can be conscious of these issues the better!

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Again, use LinkedIn for savvy networking. And be able to articulate their strengths and what they can provide to a company of interest.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

It’s not a sexy response but honestly, working hard and being a great team player who takes on projects and tough assignments makes you the person that companies want to keep and grow. It’s that simple!

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

Unrealistic expectations in career growth. I’m starting to sound like an old lady, but all of us have to earn our stripes. The wonderful thing about young people is that they’re so enthusiastic and positive – it’s just wonderful! But they have to realize that they don’t know everything, that there are things that just take time with experience. Be patient – it will come!

Julie J. Ruthenbeck

Director of Career Development at Angelo State University
Julie J. Ruthenbeck
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Choice of city can be very important. It is one of several items that should be taken into consideration when initially deciding on your career and later during the job search. You don’t want be in a city where opportunities are so limited (for the position you seek) that you are literally waiting for someone to pass in order for an opening to come available.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Be aware that for many entry-level position, the employer will not pay for your moving expenses. Some employers are leery of hiring people outside a set geographic area. For example, they may fear the hiring process being slowed down due to the applicant’s availability to travel. Or, they may be concerned that the applicant is not truly familiarity with the region and/or the culture of the city. For these or other reasons, it is important that the applicant be tenacious and communicate well. Imagine what the potential employers may see as “red flag” and address those potential concerns subtly in your communications and/or application material.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Become the employee that your boss hates to lose. How? Simple:
  • meet and exceed your bosses expectations
  • be willing to go the extra mile
  • take initiative and keep learning
  • “play nice” with others
  • ask good questions and know when to ask for help
  • never let your boss be “blind-sided” by something you did or said
  • work harder and smarter
  • have a positive attitude
What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

One of the biggest mistakes students make is not doing whatever they need to do to gain relevant experience before they graduate. Get an internship, a part-time job, and/or volunteer if you have to in order to get experience. Not only will they gain experience and insight but it is through these experiences that a student will build a quality professional network. And, we all know that networking if often the key to a successful job search.

Julee Bertsch

Program Director for Alumni Career Services at Bucknell University
Julee Bertsch
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Where one elects to begin their career really depends on what they want to do and why a city would be important for them. Some locations have more opportunities for certain types of careers, simply a larger pool to swim in, however, there are jobs in nearly all categories in most locations. For example, there are finance jobs available in Cleveland, Ohio, but there are more and a wider range in New York City or San Francisco. If someone would like to focus on NGO's working with Africa then they more than likely will look toward Washington DC simply because there would be more opportunities for that type of career and a bigger network to connect into. If they want to be an actor in film, Los Angeles would be a good location to consider.

When choosing a city, one must consider what is ultimately important to them. Do they want to be near family? Do they want a small city? Do they want to live in the south? Location is just one factor that can come into play and really can be secondary, unless there is personal reason to give it more importance in the decision of what job to take. If there are no other intervening issues then the quality of the job and the skills that one learns right out of college often become the key to career mobility. One factor to keep in mind is that future opportunities will depend on the network that is built. That network will begin and grow in the city they select after college.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

For a recruiter, it is often about managing risk. Unless they are hiring from the campus, bringing someone new to the organization who does not already live in the city adds a layer of risk to the hire. Therefore if possible, I recommend that individuals should simply move to the city where they want to work. This will allow them to be available when opportunities arise - both in networking and interviewing.

They can start by contacting their college alumni to begin to grow their professional network. Ideally, prior to moving they can schedule a visit to the city and line up several in-person conversations, i.e., conduct informational interviews. This will help them determine what companies may be a fit for them and also find opportunities that may be unique to that city that they were unaware of as they began their search. This will allow them to learn more about the career in which they are interested, as well as grow their network within that field.

They should definitely build a good LinkedIn profile. Many organizations rely heavily on searching for candidates via LinkedIn so they will be at a disadvantage if they do not have a good online profile. As they are looking for a job, I recommend that they do something active on their LinkedIn profile at least once a week to keep their name top of mind within their network and also indicate to recruiters that they are in the market.

Individuals may need to get a non-career related job while they network into a position they truly desire. If so, then I recommend that they also volunteer at an organization that will provide them access to individuals that can help build their network. They can put the volunteer experience on their resume and online profile as they continue to look for work in the new city.

Kim Goad

Director of Career Development at Butler University, College of Business
Kim Goad
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

I would back up four years and say that the city where one chooses to attend college is very strategic from a career standpoint. For instance, Butler is located in a top-ranked city with global companies and a high quality of life. While many of our students choose to start their career in a city other than Indianapolis, we know that a large percentage of students nationwide stay within a close proximity of their college after graduation. Even for our students with aspirations to start their careers in other states, our loyal national alumni base is instrumental in helping students secure one of their two required internships. Since 42% of our graduates accepted their first post-grad position last year with one of their internships, and another 25-35% will attribute their first position success to the network they've established while in college, the city where one chooses to attend college is highly important.

Of course, life allows for many twists and turns, but add to that that these are the years when graduates are finding mates who are likely also starting their careers in that city, and the decision becomes even more important.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

One of the best ways for students to secure a position in a city other than where they graduate is to intern with companies who have a national or global presence. Many of our students are able to transfer to another city with their internship employer upon graduation, after they've already proven themselves. Beyond that, network, network, network! At every opportunity, talk with friends, friends of parents, parents of friends, and professors. Tell them about your aspirations. People want to help. It's amazing how small the world really is. We live in an exciting time, where a simple request to connect on LinkedIn can lead to a dream job. At Butler's College of Business, the Career Development program (including access to a seasoned, personal executive career mentor) is baked into our program. Even if your university does not require that you use the career services team, take advantage of it! These are people who are master connectors and live to see you be successful.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Again, network, network, network! We know that most jobs are filled by the time an applicant sees the job posting. People hire people they know. You must be in front of the decision makers and influencers, face-to-face. Attend relevant association events, request informational interviews, and ask your connections to make introductions for you.

Beyond that, employers are interested in more than your GPA. They want to work with someone they can envision in their culture. You must polish your interpersonal skills. And always send a thank you note to everyone who helps you along the way. We have many stories of jobs that were won on the basis of a thank you note.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Always be seeking new challenges. Your boss more than likely wants to help you succeed, but is also a busy person. Help him or her by saying what you'd like to tackle next. They'll love you for it! Assume a "how can I be of help to you?" attitude with everyone with whom you work - external and internal customers alike. People will remember your generosity and the help you've extended may one day be returned to you. Either way, you'll be better for it.

Barbara Hewitt

Senior Associate Director of Career Services at The University of Pennsylvania
Barbara Hewitt
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Location is important on two levels. First, certain cities are well-known for having lots of opportunities in particular industries (think Los Angeles for entertainment, Silicon Valley for tech, and New York for finance). Of course, almost any job can be found in almost any location, but it can make sense to consider the breadth of opportunities in your chosen field in a given location when you are determining where to look for jobs. As you progress in your career it might be easier to make horizontal and lateral moves if there are many employers in your chosen industry located nearby. One of the reasons I love Philadelphia is that I work in higher education and we have a huge number of local colleges and universities. Not only does it allow for lots of job opportunities but also for great professional networking.

I also think location is important to make sure one’s personal needs are met. It may be very important to be near one’s family, to live in a particular climate, or to live in a place where you can pursue particular hobbies. (Skiers would do better to live in Vermont rather than Florida unless they want to spend a lot of time travelling!) These sorts of considerations can be equally important to the specific job you are considering.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

It is important to try to show ties to the particular city if you can. Make sure to mention if you grew up there (and have since moved away) or if you visit frequently. Let the employer know if you have a specific reason to be moving to the area (for example if you are relocating because a spouse or partner has taken a job in the city). Even if you don’t have strong ties to the local area, make sure you are familiar with what is happening in the city. How are the sports teams doing? What has dominated the news recently? Any new employers moving to the area? Although these are probably not things you would discuss in the application, demonstrating familiarity with the city is important during interviews, to show that you have taken the time to research not only the specific employer/job but also the surrounding area.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

First, it is important to have a vibrant economy that has interesting and attractive jobs. If graduates don’t see a way to support themselves financially and thrive in their careers, they will not be interested in moving to the location. In addition, it is important to have amenities that would make life outside of work fun – entertainment, ways to connect with other new arrivals to the city (volunteer groups, hiking clubs, etc.), opportunities to pursue additional education, etc.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

They can perform well academically in college, become involved in activities to develop leadership and teamwork skills, and complete at least one internship while still in college to develop their professional skills. Once in the job search, it helps to network with individuals working in the organizations of interest to them (definitely utilize alumni networks!) and also to personalize each application to really demonstrate specific interest in each position.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Work hard to perform above expectations, and then once you have mastered your “core” responsibilities explore other ways you might be able to contribute to the organization by volunteering for new assignments, serving on an office - wide team, or learning new skills that will make you more effective. Don’t be afraid to take sensible risks. If you wait until you are 100% confident in your ability to be successful at a given task, you will like miss out on many opportunities that could have helped you to develop your skills and move forward more rapidly within an organization.

Eric Bono

Assistant Dean for Career Opportunities in the Office of Career Development and Opportunities at University of Denver, Sturm College of Law
Eric Bono
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Hugely important. Before starting a job search, think about the range of positions you are going to pursue and do some research on how available those opportunities are in each city you are considering. Even better, meet with people who are in those fields in each of your target cities so you can get a sense of whether your skills might be more marketable in one city than another. You can also begin to get a sense of which cities offer more long term advancement opportunities in a particular field.

In addition to these factors, there are other factors to consider, such as proximity to family and social networks, as well as cultural, recreational, and entertainment opportunities. Of course, these factors are all very personal so the relative weight given to each of them varies by the individual. Nonetheless, if you are going to be looking for a job, you should consider ahead of time the degree to which these factors may affect your career decisions.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Go there! Employers are looking for candidates with ties to their city. Why? Because they want to hire people who are committed to the job and the location. And, they want to be able to retain good employees once they hire them.

You can demonstrate your commitment to moving to a city by arranging a trip there to connect in person with potential employers. Before you plan your trip, get a list of alumni from your university and reach out to them.Let them know that you are coming to town and looking to connect with alumni for informational and networking purposes. Many of them will be happy to give you tips on how they made the transition, and they may even be able to help you make other connections. Also, join relevant professional organizations in your target city and put that on your resume to show employers you are serious.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

Today’s recent graduates are active, social and crave work-life balance. Market your city as a fun, dynamic place for newer professionals to live and work. Collaborate with local professional and recreational associations that cater to newer professionals. In addition, leverage other things that make your city unique, such as professional sports, arts & entertainment, a lively restaurant scene and outdoor activities, just to name a few.

Corporations should do all of this and more. If it is feasible, consider adopting policies that give your employees the flexibility to work when and where they are most productive (at least some of the time). With today’s technology, many jobs can be performed equally well, if not better, outside the office. Also, keep in mind that in the not-too-distant future, your recent graduate employees will be raising families. Adopting a family leave policy that goes above and beyond the bare minimum is a great way to build loyalty.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Be proactive, connect with people, and tailor your applications to feature the “fit” between you and a prospective employer. Too many people spend hours submitting essentially the same application to hundreds of employers and think they are doing a thorough job search.

An effective job search involves connecting with people who are in the field you are trying to break into, picking their brains, and staying in touch with them. It also involves thoroughly researching prospective employers. Doing all of these things will help you tailor your applications to show employers that you understand their needs and have the skills to meet them. And who knows, some of the people you meet along the way may even be willing to draw attention to your application.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Think about things from your employer’s perspective. What do they need from you and how does the organization benefit from your work? Once you understand that, think about every project in terms of how it will benefit the organization. And, look for ways to add even more value by volunteering to take on additional projects, fix long-running problems, and find more efficient ways of doing things. Own every task you take on and you will build trust within your organization. Finally, keep track of all of your achievements and make sure to highlight them in your performance appraisal. You are your own best advocate.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

Engaging in a “job search” instead of “career planning.” Many students assume that their career is something they can worry about in the final year of their degree program or even after graduation. By then, it may be too late to achieve an optimal outcome. There are many things students can and should be do to maximize their ultimate career satisfaction. For one thing, students should constantly be assessing what career paths interest them, whether those jobs align with their skills and values, and whether those jobs are readily available. Students can accomplish this by doing career self-assessment exercises, networking in their areas of interest, attending professional conferences, and interning. Your school’s career services office is a great place to start!

Bryan Barts

Interim Director of Career Services at University of Wisconsin-Stout
Bryan Barts
What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

When looking for opportunities in a different city, there are a few helpful tips to make it easier. First, do research on the area or city itself, such as watching the evening news or reading news articles about the city. A job seeker can gain a lot of insight about current economic topics, company news and business, real estate and often new business developments - great way to have information for small talk when networking and interviewing. Secondly, through that process, a job seeker will come across names of people connected to that area and have a reason to conduct informational interviews. This is a strategy I share with students who are often looking to move away from their college town or experience which involves connecting with people in professional positions with the intent to gather information about the career field in that geographical area. I make sure to tell them to not ask for a job, but for information and insight because of the job search and potential move.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

To get an edge in the job search process, young job applicants should put focus on two key areas. First, they need to take time to better understand what their skills and accomplishments are. This is a step that most students do not spend enough time doing at the beginning of the application process and one that can boost their confidence throughout recruitment, whether preparing their resume or answering interview questions.

Most companies look for 3 areas in the recruitment process, first – skills. Can the candidate do the job, do they have the technical and/or soft skills needed? Secondly, passion or motivation for the position. Recruiters often ask – why us, why now type of questions to gain insight. Lastly, importance is placed on the candidates fit into the culture or team. A second way to get an edge is by taking time to research their company beyond the website. Most employers tell me that they expect applicants to know the basics of what their company does or what the position entails, but often are more impressed when a candidate can look deeper at a position or company and align it with similar work or past experience and how they added value to a company’s products or services.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

Yes I do and one that I tell my Co-op students to do near the end of their experience with a company: ask. Often times, co-op students and employees expect a manager to just know. However, it is important to communicate and share with your manager or supervisor that if the experience is going well, that you are interested in staying with them. For Co-op students that could be an entry-level position, but for those already in a position, it could be expressed as additional projects, more collaboration, or being part of goal setting for the team or office. A second tip would be to make friends with or try to develop a mentoring relationship with someone in the office that has been there a while. In an entry-level experience, leveraging a co-workers insight, wisdom and guidance, not only helps do the job better, but also shows that you understand your role and respect those that you work with.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

I think that the biggest mistake that many young people make, not all, but many, is to join an organization carrying a mindset that they are experts in their area. There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence and sometimes young people, new to company or entry level position, do not always know the difference. Also, they too often do not take enough time to learn the working culture, company norms and office rules – both written and unwritten. When we hear from employers who are struggling with a new hire, it often falls into either of these categories.

Lynne Sebille-White

Director of Career Advancement in the Pomerantz Career Center at University Of Iowa
Lynne Sebille-White
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Many college graduates are highly motivated by location. Some are more concerned with where they live than with what they do in their job/career. While some graduates desire to stay close to family, others are compelled to move someplace new and different which offers social/cultural/recreational amenities desired.

Factors to consider are local economic conditions, especially related to your field of interest, as well as cost of living. Is the industry you want to work in available in most every community (e.g., healthcare, education) or are you interested in something more niche where a high concentration of the industry is in certain locations? Also, how does current supply and demand measure up for those in your desired field and locales? Determine your budget, factoring in student loans, other debt, cost of recreational activities drawing you to that specific location. Do your homework so you know what rent, transportation, food and other living expenses will cost in desired locations. Know what kind of salary you will need to live where you desire and if there are ample employment options of interest that will pay what you need to live there.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

It can be very challenging to job search when you are currently living far from your target location. If there is an ample supply of talent in that area (or even an oversupply, think aspiring actors in LA), then there is little motivation for employers to look outside the area for talent or to pay relocation expenses. Networking is key to finding opportunities, understanding the landscape and getting your resume in front of the person doing the hiring. Tap friends, family and alumni living in the target location. It may be helpful to visit during a break, doing informational interviews you’ve arranged in advance. You need to make connections and those connections need to understand that you are serious about relocating and find value in what you can offer. For students who are going to college out of state who desire to return “home”, listing a current and permanent address on your resume can also instill confidence that you are serious about moving to that area.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

This is more complex than having entry-level professional opportunities available. That is necessary but these also have to be jobs that recent college graduates are attracted to and in organizations they view as desirable. Study organizations that are successful in attracting and retaining new professionals. What is the work environment like? What perks are offered? Is the organization involved in the community service (volunteering, donating, sponsoring – many students want to work for a company that mirrors their values)? What amenities are nearby that attract younger workers? What percentage of hires are under 30? Are there training programs or training cohorts? Do they offer internships which can be your #1 recruiting tool if done well?

Highlighting recreational and social activities in the area and promoting the number of new professionals working and living there is also a good practice. In some instances, you may need to debunk myths and stereotypes. Recent college graduates are leaving an ecosystem where they interact with peers and readily build friendships. It is scary to leave that environment and enter the “real world”. Most want to know that there are other new professionals they will meet, work with, and potentially develop friendships with outside of work. There has to be a community that is conducive to young professionals in order to attract more young professionals.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Gain transferable skills and put them to use in practical settings while in college. Internships and comparable experiences are key to finding a job after college. They not only help students explore and test out different career options, they help you develop tangible skills and experiences. You can test out what you are leaning in classes by applying it to real-world situations. You need to be able to demonstrate that you have the skills/attributes employers need in your field of interest. You need to be able to provide examples of leadership, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, worth ethic, etc. to land a job. Many career centers reference the annual survey NACE (National Association of Colleges & Employers) which highlights what attributes employers most desire when hiring graduating seniors.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

In our world, the only constant is change. Rather than resisting and fighting change, seek ways to innovate and embrace new ideas and technology. Think outside the box and focus on continuous improvement. Remain nimble and be a life-long learner. Take advantage of every opportunity to develop and hone your skills, help your colleagues, make your boss/company look good, go the extra mile for a client, etc. If you make an effort to contribute, do a good job, remain positive and build professional relationships, you will set yourself up for success where you remain in the same field or you need or desire to switch careers.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

Not sure I can provide an all-encompassing response as this varies depending upon the individual. If I had to generalize, I’d say that understanding the culture of the organization in which they are working is key. This means being observant and listening, picking up on spoken and unspoken cues about what is valued and what is not. Understand that how the work is done is as important as completing the project or task. If teamwork and collaboration are quintessential to the organization, then doing a great job by yourself without involving key stakeholders will not win you supporters. Take time to educate yourself before asking a flurry of unnecessary question or requesting constant feedback and guidance, even on the most miniscule of tasks. There is a transition going from student to professional/colleague. In order to be taken seriously, you need to showcase confidence, independence, resourcefulness, self-monitoring and other soft skills that are embedded in your organization’s work values.

Sue Harbour

Associate Director of University Career Services at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sue Harbour
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

Location is important for several reasons: does the location fit the type of environment a new grad wants to live in? If you love living in the city, you may find it challenging to work in a rural area.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Examine what specific needs they have (salary, housing, support system, cost of living) and research all of them before accepting an offer.

What can city policy makers and corporations do to attract and retain recent graduates?

This depends of the city, but most new grads will look outside of their region for higher salaries if their industry comps are lower than what they need in a starting salary. So, I would think corporations would want to have competitive compensation packages to entice recent grads to stay.

What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Do their homework, network and get valuable experience. Internships, while not mandatory, should be considered so by any student to get hands-on relevant experience in a field they want to start out in. Begin building a LinkedIn profile to develop a network of professionals that can help them learn more about the industry they want to pursue, and research companies before interviewing. Nothing is a bigger let down to a recruiter than when the applicant doesn’t know what the company does or who they serve.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

I think any entry-level job should be looked at as a stepping stone instead of the destination. From an entry level job any new grad should learn about working in a professional setting while developing and improving their communication skills, leadership and teamwork. All jobs will allow an employee to develop a new skill set and it’s the employees job to take that skill set and figure out where they want to apply all of their skills next.

What is the biggest career mistake that young people make?

From my experience, I don’t see them making too many mistakes. If anything, I would say it’s waiting until April of their Senior year to begin thinking about the process. Students who are most successful in their job search are those who take advantage of their college career centers early in their college years to start off strong with the career development process.

Joe Hayes

Assistant Director, Employer Relations & Internships, Academic & Career Development Center, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Joe Hayes
What can young job applicants do to get an edge?

Young job applicants need to take initiative to get ahead. With the amount of job boards and online postings available, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing a job search solely in this manner. In other words, applicants need to put themselves out there and be willing to network. Networking opportunities are everywhere, even if a person thinks their professional network is initially small – it can include their classmates, teachers, friends, parents, neighbors, school alumni and so forth. I heard once that a person received a job lead by building a relationship with their mail carrier. There’s something old-fashioned about networking and regardless of how technology may shape the application process in the future - you must be willing to embrace networking.

Do you have any tips for turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career?

It is important to know that you are in control when it comes to turning an entry-level job into a long, successful career. While you may not be with the same company over the course of your working years, people should always be thirsty to learn and diversify their skill set. This could include seeking out professional development opportunities or simply learning a new software program through a free YouTube video. This will enable a person to stay relevant in the job market and be more prone to success.

Katie Wessel

Assistant Director, Career Advising, Academic & Career Development Center at University of Nebraska at Omaha
Katie Wessel
How important is the city one chooses to start a career?

According to The New Geography of Jobs, living in metropolitan areas where there are high concentrations of college educated workers, leads to higher average salaries of college graduates. As evidenced with the wage gap between genders and ethnicities, a person’s starting salary influences their lifetime earning potential. For employees looking to maximize their earning potential, where you start your career matters, as it impacts not only starting salary, but also salary increases with subsequent promotions.

What tips do you have for job seekers who are applying for jobs in a different city?

Use your network. While you might not have direct connections in another city, perhaps your friends, family members or colleagues do. Your network can help you in finding positions, researching salary expectations for that city or identifying the best neighborhoods to live. LinkedIn groups, such as your university’s alumni association and/or professional associations for your field, can be a great resource for getting connected in new cities.

Methodology

In order to help job market entrants launch their careers in the right place, WalletHub analyzed and ranked the 150 most populous U.S. cities based on the following 19 metrics, which were designed to collectively represent most of the issues that young people have in mind when looking for a place to set down roots — from professional opportunities to quality of life.

For this report, we chose each city according to the size of its population. Please note that “city” refers to city proper and excludes surrounding metro areas.

Professional Opportunities – Total Weight: 10

  • Number of Entry-Level Jobs per 10,000 Inhabitants: Full Weight
  • Monthly Median Starting Salary (adjusted for cost of living): Full Weight
  • Annual Job Growth Rate (adjusted for population growth): Full Weight
  • Median Income Growth Rate: Full Weight
  • Economic Mobility: Full Weight
  • Workforce Diversity: Full Weight
  • Unemployment Rate: Full Weight
  • WalletHub “Entrepreneurial Activity” Ranking: Full Weight

Quality of Life – Total Weight: 5

  • Median Annual Income (adjusted for cost of living): Full Weight
  • Number of Arts, Leisure & Recreation Establishments per 100,000 Inhabitants: Full Weight
  • Percentage of the Population Aged 25 to 34: Full Weight
  • Strength of Social Ties: Full Weight
  • Percentage of the Population with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher: Full Weight
  • Population Growth (2042 vs. 2012): Full Weight
  • Housing Affordability (median annual family income divided by housing costs): Full Weight
  • WalletHub “Recreation” Ranking: Full Weight
  • WalletHub “Families” Ranking: Full Weight
  • WalletHub “Single People” Ranking: Full Weight
  • WalletHub “Weather” Ranking: Half Weight

Sources: Data used to create these rankings were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sharecare, Indeed.com, the Equality of Opportunity Project, the Council for Community & Economic Research, the United States Conference of Mayors and WalletHub research.

Author

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John Kiernan is Senior Writer & Editor at Evolution Finance. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Journalism, a minor in Sport Commerce & Culture,…
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Discussion

 
May 8, 2014
Good study, but how do we see the actual results for a specific city on the 18 metrics used in your methodology? Just showing averages in Quality of Life and Professional Opportunities does not show the metrics that a city is strong or weak in. Are the individual city metrics results available?
Thanks.
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