Help Wanted: From graduation to gainful employment

Forbes: Best places to begin a career by ahoffstrom
August 4, 2009, 8:50 pm
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Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

This weekend, my parents are coming to Madison, Wis., to help me move out of my college apartment. Each time I put a book, magazine or article of clothing in a box, I can’t help wondering if my parents’ house in a Twin Cities suburb is really the next place I’ll see it again.

Am I really moving back home? Is my newfound independence really coming to an end?

According to Forbes, it may be better for me to stay in Madison—the city ranked second among cities with fewer than one million people in a list of best cities for recent grads and first-time job seekers.

The magazine, which released the list in mid-July, examined cost-of-living data, the quality of jobs in each city and alumni data from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Northwestern, Duke and Rice universities to compile its ranking.

While I grew to love Madison as a student, I’m not convinced it’s one of the best cities to start a career. Well, not a career in journalism at least. The University of Wisconsin creates bioscience and medical opportunities, which I suppose creates public relations positions, but I think it lacks in journalism jobs.

To my delight, Minneapolis, a.k.a. the largest city near my parents’ home, ranked ninth among metropolitan areas for the best place to start a career. There are companies that I want to work for in the city, so I’m hopeful a move to Plymouth, Minn., will soon translate to a move downtown.

One of my friends is moving to New York (No. 7 among metro areas) at the beginning of September, and several of my friends recently moved to Chicago (No. 12 among metro areas). The last I checked, these friends were planning to move without a job secured. They were just hoping to find something once they relocate.

Hearing their plans makes me wonder about my own. Should I take an equal risk and move somewhere new? Is it best to save money in a place that’s comfortable, or take a chance on a life-changing experience?

Looking to move? Forbes suggests these places:

Metropolitan areas (population greater than one million)

  1. San Jose, Calif.
  2. Cambridge, Mass.
  3. Houston, Texas
  4. San Francisco, Calif.
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. Boston, Mass.
  7. New York
  8. Philadelphia, Pa.
  9. Minneapolis, Minn.
  10. Dallas, Texas
  11. Seattle, Wash.
  12. Chicago, Ill.
  13. Nashville, Tenn.
  14. Orange County, Calif.
  15. St. Louis, Mo.
  16. Charlotte, N.C.
  17. Baltimore, Md.
  18. Denver, Colo.
  19. San Diego, Calif.
  20. Milwaukee, Wis.

Cities with fewer than one million:

  1. Bridgeport, Conn.
  2. Madison, Wis.
  3. Greensboro, N.C.
  4. Winston-Salem, N.C.
  5. Raleigh, N.C.

Cities with fewer than 500,000:

  1. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  2. Boulder, Colo.
  3. Santa Barbara, Calif.
  4. Burlington, N.C.
  5. Iowa City, Iowa

Feeling the deadline pressure by ahoffstrom
July 30, 2009, 7:47 pm
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Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

The past two and a half weeks have been full of deadlines, and they’ve distracted from my original goal of finding my first post-grad, full-time job.

After I completed my first freelance fact-checking assignment in early July, both of my former intern supervisors at MSP Communications reached out to me about working on more.

It seems that once I turn a fact-checking assignment in, another one comes to my e-mail inbox. I’m not complaining, as I love working for Delta Sky magazine and parent MSP Communications, but it keeps me away from job boards, Twitter feeds and Facebook—though the latter is probably for the best.

Since my last blog post, I’ve verified facts in 11 articles ranging from small sidebars to features about major media moguls. I have two assignments that I’ll turn in by Friday and more coming my way over the weekend.

The pace that I’ve been working this month is faster than I’ve worked in awhile. Finishing a 600-fact article in a little more than two days is no easy feat, especially while you have other articles to work on.

The somewhat frustrating thing about having deadlines again is the reminder that no one in the media world is on the same schedule. Just because I have to have a celebrity interview back to the editor by the end of this week doesn’t mean the person’s publicist can or will have time to go over each fact with me.

However tedious my current service, I am happy that MSP is able to afford the freelancers whose work I check, the editors who assign it out, and me: the former intern turned freelance fact-checker.

Of course, I volunteer in the hopes that it will lead to something bigger with the company, that my talent will be remembered and will help me land a job so I don’t miss the biggest deadline of all—having a job by the end of the summer to avoid moving back to my suburban Minnesota home.

My apartment lease in Madison ends Aug. 14, which is approaching much faster than I’d like. I expect that the next couple of weeks will be a period of confusion, sadness and self-discovery. I’m already preparing for a week full of tears.

Job search anxiety on vacation by ahoffstrom
June 1, 2009, 11:53 am
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Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

To celebrate my college graduation, my mom planned a family vacation to New York City from May 26 through June 2 and so far it’s been fun mixed with anxiety.

My dad has traveled to the city many times for business trips, and I came for a short trip last summer to visit two friends interning for CNN and FOX News, but it’s the first time for my mom and brother.

Because of this, many of our outings have been to classic tourist locations. We’ve been to Times Square (many times because it’s close to our hotel), Magnolia Bakery (featured in “Sex and the City”), saw “Guys and Dolls” on Broadway (which I loved), an NBC studio tour at Rockefeller Center, The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Ground Zero, among others.  I’ve also had meetings with former work colleagues and friends living in the city.

Though the trip was intended to be a fun break between school and the real world, I can’t help thinking that I’m somehow losing out on the job hunt while I’m on vacation – especially since our Internet access has been somewhat limited. It is $15 per day in our hotel, an expense my parents decided to pass on.

I’m currently sitting in Bryant Park, using the free WiFi to write this post. The beautiful weather combined with free Internet is actually quite enjoyable. But, sitting here I want to jump on to the job boards and see if there are any openings. Has anything been posted since I looked last? Has anyone replied to my job inquiries? Are there any last-minute summer internships I can or should apply to while I’m sitting here? I feel like I should be working on some sort of job application whether it is full-time or an internship. In my mind, time is ticking on that great first job.

I think I need to take a deep breath and have fun while I can in New York. Soon I can go back to reality.

Graduation just four days away by ayhosier
May 5, 2009, 6:33 pm
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Alexis Hosier

Alexis Hosier

With graduation just four days away at Indiana University, anxiety is running high. I have been so busy finishing up papers for classes and studying for finals that I forgot I was trying to find a job too. I sometimes like to think that I will just be back in Bloomington next year and everything will be perfect, but then I remember that graduation means we aren’t coming back to what I consider the best college town in the world.

I continue to make connections through family members, but none of those connections are in the sports field, but rather mostly politics. I figure wherever I can get my name out there is a good thing.

In the short-term, I am going to put the real world with a post-graduation trip to Las Vegas, a vacation courtesy of my sister as my graduation gift. But when I arrive back,  I will be back to reality, back to being unemployed. A scary thought, huh?

A lot of people have told me to travel before I settle down with a job, but how do you travel with no money? In six months, I will have to start paying back student loans, which is a scary thought because I have no way of generating that money right now. Where do I get the money? Borrow from my family? That is the easy route. The main reason I have so much anxiety about not having a job yet is because of my debt.

So, as of May 9th my new residence will be at my sisters house in Indianapolis until I find a job. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean getting a job as a waitress, but it just might. Trying to stay positive but senior anxiety has officially set in.