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

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.