The Debate: Location VS. Career?
When looking for a college, I was very much focused on specifics: a major in public relations and marketing, a smaller college in the North East (I’m from Iowa, so this was a distance leap), strong study-abroad program, rooted in education and then, where it was located. I visited many fantastic school’s and programs that I got into around the country, but either the college town was in the middle of nowhere or the campus was the entire town. I couldn’t see myself being able to enjoy or thrive. Flash forward four years of college living in Burlington, Vermont one of the healthiest and most progressive cities in the country at Champlain College a nationally recognized small but powerful college, known for it’s upside-down curriculum and offering real-life experience. I know, I couldn’t have made a better choice.
As my college tenure was ending and I was filled with hope and aspiration (plus 5 internships under my belt) I began to think, should I take the traditional path of many classmates, head to Boston or New York City where there are a plethora of jobs in my industry but still close enough for comfort? I said No. I’m not satisfied with safe. I want to walk to the edge. So the wheels began to turn. I researched, networked and used a little intuition (I’m an ENFP, I gotta). I landed on Boulder. This was a good 6 months before I was set to graduate, but I knew it was going to be Boulder.
Flash forward today, here I am living in the smartest town in America, “the perennial town” for its 300+ days of sunshine, the Silicon Flatirons with fresh, innovative startups and a community that cares. These reasons and more are why I’ve found my niche in Boulder. I find myself smiling looking up at the Flatiron mountains as soon as I walk out my door in the morning, or when I’m snowboarding the majestic Rockies, or working at a fantastic startup with intelligent, forward-thinking people, or when I attend a New Tech Meetup and meet another incredible entrepreneur driven to move to Boulder and incubate their idea. I know I also made the right decision and I surmounted all the challenges that stood in my way.
Career-wise, I moved to Boulder first as the location knowing that the career would soon follow. This was in August of 2008 and I know even in this short time, things have changed, I see and hear this everyday. However, the power of place has been discussed in terms of your identity and career, especially for Generation Y. Some might have said my decision was idealistic and that it was easier to interview locally or head back to your hometown to start your first job, but I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied. I believe that choosing a location that inspires you would be conducive to my career creativity and growth. I don’t think it’s naive. I understand the constraints and wasn’t looking for my dream job, I was willing to work to make it work. I also had a list of contacts and companies I had been in touch with, so I wasn’t jumping in blind. I wanted to live in Boulder and I accepted the challenge upon moving here (without a job) but I knew my capabilities and for me, it worked.
It may not be for everyone but really, how much can your job define your happiness if you’re in a dreary location that doesn’t support you and who you are? When you’re in a location that is robust with intelligence, education and experience the people become analogous to the qualities of the place you live in.
Would you move first for the location, if you knew the job opportunities existed? How important is where you live, versus the career you want to pursue?