Confident in their brains and guided by their feet, some university students truly go unexpected places to get a foot in the door.
Katie McInerney, a recent Syracuse University graduate, moved over 1,000 miles from New York to Des Moines, Iowa, for a design position with Design Studios Gannett, a division of USA TODAY’s publisher. A USA TODAY report found only 26% of workers would relocate for a job. The distance reflects a telling gap in preferences between the generations of younger and older professionals.
“I knew in my industry beggars cannot be choosers,” McInerney said. “I chose to take the best opportunity afforded to me.”
Although the transition from graduating in New York to establishing her career in Iowa is overwhelming, McInerney said she is grateful for the rapid process.
“I’ve come to believe Des Moines is a good place to be right out of school,” McInerney said. “It’s incredibly less expensive than where I’m from and…that will allow me to get on my feet financially.”
Google, Wikipedia and local online news outlets provided insight into Des Moines’ neighborhoods, crime, weather and culture, McInerney said. The recent graduate said she also sought advice from professors and adults familiar with the Midwest.
Extensive legwork may be necessary for those eager to embark on a similar journey. Ian Kullgren, a junior at Michigan State University, said he spent a combined four hours emailing and calling to rent a room in Kalamazoo, Mich., for a summer newspaper internship. Kullgren also said he drove from East Lansing, Mich., to his new city beforehand to visit the house and explore the surrounding community.
“This experience has reinforced the idea I want to step out of my comfort zone because I want to feel something new,” Kullgren said. “The world is too big not to wander out.”
Introduced to his three college roommates through Craigslist, Kullgren said he has befriended them and settled into the college town, which offers an array of popular festivals and nightlife options.
However, the allure of braving a strange city is not a universal temptation among college-aged adults. Sara Walczyk, a recent graduate from Tennessee Technological University, said her close-knit family relationships encourage her to remain home in Gallatin, Tenn.
“I’m a momma’s girl,” Walczyk said.
Dr. Todd Farchione, clinical psychologist and research assistant professor at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, said separation from the familiar may cause anxiety for anyone relocating. Depression, jitteriness, disrupted sleep patterns and a loss of appetite are symptoms of the condition, the professor said.
The psychologist said he recommended that new residents live near organizations that comfort them, such as a church or gym, to avoid a slump as they assimilate into strange surroundings. Recreational exercise groups can also provide an outlet to socialize, Farchione said.
Kullgren said his own efforts to position himself to meet others have paid off more than he expected, and he will pursue any similar opportunities in the future.
“I’m blessed in that I know exactly what I want to do career-wise, and I will pretty much move wherever presents the best opportunity for me,” Kullgren said. “I’ve got to believe there’s somewhere in the U.S. or beyond where I can succeed, and I’ll go wherever that is.”
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