Where Do Students Want To Move?
Cities like New York and Los Angeles have always attracted more than their fair share of recent college graduates. Professional opportunities are a large part of this draw, but college students also seek the cultural and social diversity that these cities offer. For many, a dynamic arts scene, rich nightlife and other young people are critical to their professional decisions.
As more Americans move into big cities, costs are skyrocketing. Housing costs, in particular, have risen dramatically in cities like Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Boston. With their entry-level salaries, young professionals enjoy less of the cultural life of their cities of choice as more and more of their paychecks go to rent. Large student loans put even more pressure on these job seekers’ budgets. How can student affairs professionals and career center staff help?
Advise Students to Look Beyond the Usual
When advising students, make location an important part of the conversation. For students focused on New York City, identify what they hope to get out of their experience, and push them to think about whether they can get the same benefits elsewhere.
Job seekers looking for cities with great theater scenes might want to check out places like Minneapolis, which is dramatically less expensive and has a strong theater presence. Students may be able to find places closer to home while still getting big-city amenities if they focus on what is important to them in a city.
Build Diverse Networks
Many schools have robust networks in large cities. With a critical mass of alumni, it is easier to maintain strong bonds. Proactive career center staff can reach out to alums in less popular areas and cities with emerging economies to cultivate relationships that will help students as they explore more widely.
Leverage Existing Tools
Career centers can provide much of this information through established tools and structures, like career fairs and the higher ed technology that career centers already use. Test how well those tools let students explore options in nontraditional locations, and address shortcomings. Does the annual job fair include employers from a variety of places? Does the job search system include opportunities all across the country? Identify gaps and work to fill them based on student interest.
Economic realities mean many job seekers are pivoting to new areas. Career centers need to acknowledge this 2015 trend and support students by following their lead.