College senior Kaitlin Ripple has always known the business world was competitive. Yet when she started Baldwin-Wallace College, located in a suburb outside of Cleveland, Ohio, she had no way of knowing how cutthroat it would be when she finally received her diploma. Now with graduation days away, Ripple is contemplating her next move.
While she’d love to stay near Cleveland, Ripple, who majored in marketing and minored in international business, is realistic and has expanded her search far beyond the city’s borders and started researching other cities’ costs of living and job prospects.
“I am looking anywhere and everywhere and make it known in my cover letter that I am willing to relocate regardless of if assistance is offered (as some companies no longer do I hear),” she says. “I have applied to jobs in the South and even in Europe. If I find an opportunity that I am passionate about I would go anywhere.”
There are many members of the Class of 2010 who have stories just like just like Ms. Ripple’s. While there’s relief that classes are over, exams have been taken and term papers turned in, what lies ahead is an extremely challenging and competitive job market across the country.
Top cities for new grads
While many new grads tend to look for jobs near their college or hometowns, scores of them are considering locations they might not have when they entered school four or five years ago.
“This job market is one of the most challenging new grads have ever faced, with fewer jobs available and competition from more job seekers who are likely to have more experience,” says Nathan Lippe, career adviser for CareerRookie.com. “New grads will need to go the extra mile – both literally and figuratively – when it comes to their job searches.”
“Many new grads are feeling the pressure of deciding where to live after college,” said Tammy Kotula, public relations and promotions manager, Apartments.com. “Finding an affordable apartment and a good job may determine where to live, but it’s also important to look at cities offering the culture and lifestyle these young adults enjoy.”
For new grads who plan to expand their job searches beyond their college towns or hometowns, Apartments.com and CareerRookie.com just released the third annual “Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates” based on the ranking of top U.S. cities with the highest concentration of young adults (age 20 to 24) from the U.S. Census Bureau (2006), inventory of jobs requiring less than one year of experience from CareerRookie.com (March, 2010) and the average cost of rent for a one bedroom apartment from Apartments.com (2010).
According to Apartments.com and CBcampus.com, the top 10 cities for new grads are:
Looking beyond your hometown
If you are considering expanding your job search to other cities, Lippe offers these tips:
- Be flexible and open-minded about locations and jobs you might not have considered previously. Even if you don’t end up in your dream job, you can earn valuable transferrable skills that you can take with you to your next job.
- Contact an alumnus from your college who lives in that city and join your alumni chapter if there is one.
- Get an insider’s perspective by familiarizing yourself with the local media and other resources. Read up on the city’s business and community news.
- Develop a list of companies within the area and learn about their businesses and company cultures.
- Register with a national recruitment agency; interview with a recruiter in your local office and have that person put the word out to other offices in your target cities.
- Consider spending a few days in your desired city to learn more, network and set up informational interviews. In your applications and cover letters, tell hiring managers the dates you’ll be in the city and available to interview.
Despite a troubled job market, Ripple says she wouldn’t have majored in studies that might have brought her more job prospects. “I genuinely enjoy and have a passion for International Business and Marketing and I would have majored in it no matter what. Had I known the economy would have been like this perhaps I would have made plans to immediately get my MBA afterward or had plans in place to move right away.”
*Average rent of one bedroom apartment
**Using search term “entry level” in that city