How to Choose the Right City to Start Your Post-College Career

Hubspot posted an article today I thought I’d share:

The 12 Best Cities in the World to Start Your Career

It’s written primarily to marketing majors, but English majors can benefit from the information it contains, too. Here’s an excerpt:

Thankfully for all you recent college grads out there (and your parents), the job market’s looking up for folks who’ve recently gotten their diploma. More employers plan to hire recent college graduates in 2015 than in previous years, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

And for those of you about to graduate, things are looking good, too: Two-thirds of employers who responded to NACE’s “Job Outlook 2015 Spring Update” survey reported they expected to increase or maintain current hiring levels for the Class of 2016.

That’s good news!

I suggest giving the article a quick read.

The Truth About the “Best Cities”

You’ll notice a few of the biggest, “bookiest” cities in the U.S. are missing from Hubspot’s list:

  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • Chicago

I think these cities are missing for good reason. Each of them (except maybe Chicago) are prohibitively expensive for those of us without trust-fund parachutes.

Yes, plenty of English majors succeed in those cities and find gainful, satisfying employment in their desired fields.

But those English majors represent perhaps less than 1% of all English majors. Those aren’t great odds.

So where should English majors look for their first post-college jobs? My suggestion is to think small. If you have internship experience (or have been developing your skills, as I discuss in The English Major’s Guide to Getting a Job), you can expect to find a job in a small or mid-sized city fairly easily.

For example, I got my career start in Salt Lake City. Here’s why SLC was a great place to begin:

  • Lots of small to mid-sized businesses (known as SMBs in the professional world) and thus lots of opportunity
  • Entrepreneurial culture, meaning my employers were willing to let me experiment and develop new skills if they added value to the company
  • Low cost of living, meaning I could afford a 2-bedroom apartment through just freelance work even if I got laid off (which I did once, but found a new job the next week)

Salt Lake also has a surprisingly rad art/culture scene – though things get weird if you stray too far from the city.

I’m not saying everyone should pack up and head to the Rockies. (It’s been done.) But I am saying that Salt Lake is the right type of city, in my opinion, for English majors to begin looking for their first post-college jobs.

It’s a big country. There are several other cities that meet these criteria:

  • Cincinatti (which a friend swears is a secret gem of a town)
  • Minneapolis
  • St. Louis
  • Phoenix
  • Portland (the one in Maine, which is an awesome unexpected pleasure)
  • Baltimore
  • Denver
  • Austin

If you don’t have experience, it’s time to change that. Begin identifying and developing skills that will make you desirable to employers nowthis semester. Don’t wait.

It’s also the perfect time to begin networking and revamping your LinkedIn profile so you’re more easily discoverable by employers.

PS: If you’re a writer in a more traditional vein, check out 20 Great American Cities for Writers – That Aren’t New York on Flavorwire. I don’t agree with all their selections, but it’s a fun list nonetheless.

PPS: In case you missed it, pre-orders are now available for The English Major’s Guide to Getting a Job. Get instant-access to bonuses that will help you develop employable skills plus early access to the guide when it’s released.