Relocating For The Search: Changing Cities Might Be The Best Career Move

July 30, 2014  |  

I probably didn’t do the best job preparing for graduation. During my last semester in college I still hadn’t decided whether to start looking for jobs or graduate programs. Eventually my unwillingness to study for the GRE made the decision for me and I began the long process of scouring job boards and responding to vague emails about low-level openings. I always knew I’d move soon after shaking the Dean’s hand and posing with my diploma. I’d just hoped I would be moving for something instead of in search of something.

For about six weeks at the beginning of the end of senior year, my brother called me dozens of times a week to ask if I was planning to move to New York after graduation. I was adamant that it was not my destiny to live in the overpopulated tourist trap, and he was adamant that it should be. He argued that my resistance didn’t make career sense. New York is headquarters two major magazine publishers and is a hub for media jobs — a point MediaBistro co-signed.

Still I didn’t want to agree to move to a city where I not only had no prospects, but also wanted none.

Months later, as my lease neared its end, I had to make a decision. I was going to have to move, period. I just had to decide where. I’d spent the 30 days prior to my May 12 ceremony and all the weeks following focusing my search in nearby Chicago — an easily drivable distance for interviews. But the reality at the time was that the Midwest was not flourishing with journalism opportunities. Road & Track had relocated 45 minutes from my father’s doorstep to join Car & Driver but I was not at all interested returning to Michigan, so my options were unimpressive.

Sooner than I’d hoped, I had to resign myself to the fact that more than half the archived notices in my Gmail account and most of the entry-level listings on Journalism Jobs were based in New York. I called my brother and told him to prepare the couch.

I called it moving on faith. When I arrived in the city I had a couple thousand dollars and no job. I also had a generous older sibling who I could count on to shelter and feed me.

And the relocation, specifically the local address, turned out to be beneficial.

Within a month of relocation I was offered two interviews, declined one and secured the other. Within three months I started an internship and was offered positions freelancing as a columnist and image editor. By the time I bought my plane tickets for my holiday visit home I had a custom, full-time job offer.

It’s an experience my peers and I have shared. Many recruiters will only consider current residents, and there’s something about the “New York-based” tagline that makes freelancing easier. I still don’t recommend moving without a job offer. It’s not fun and can be a harrowing task. However, if 87 percent of my career opportunities were in Texas, I’d move there next month. Next day interviews are an advantage in congested, competitive fields and I’d want the edge. Besides, it’s already worked once.

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