There’s no denying it. The economy sucks. A lot. If like me you’re a senior, this takes on an extra dimension of terribleness because you have to find a job. If you’re not among those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed future workaholics who’ve recently landed a finance or consulting job, then you may be asking yourself a question that a lot of college students across the country are asking themselves right now: Where should I work?
Many college students are returning to their hometowns. That’s especially true of international students, who aren’t remaining in the United States like they often used to, according to Career Services Senior Associate Director Kelly Cleary. There’s a certain logic to returning to your roots. Going home can save you money in living expenses, shielding you from (further) worsening your debt situation while you try to make heads or tails of the labor market. The pressure to head home may seem particularly intense right now.
At least some Penn students likely have parents who would welcome a returning graduate. I know I’m not the only one with a mother terrified of not having someone’s life to manage and a father who’s concerned his life will be controlled next. Going home could enable you to reconnect with old friends, wipe off some of that Ivy League arrogance and quietly acquire a couple of extra practical skills while you ease your way into work.
Yet, going home is undoubtedly against the instincts of many Penn students. College junior Katherine Wang of Colorado noted that doing so “might be cheaper … but you don’t feel independent.” Like many Penn students not originally from the northeast, Wang has caught the East-Coast, big-city bug and hopes to stay here after graduation.
Cleary seemed to confirm that tone. She noted that “New York continues to be a big draw,” despite some expectations that the economy would change that trend.
So, it seems that the easy options are returning home or living in the BosWash megalopolis. But don’t. For the love of God, don’t.
There are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t go home. Your parents’ finances have probably been stretched far enough by paying for your Penn education. They may well have taken a hit to their savings with the financial crisis or lost a job themselves. They don’t need the extra work of holding you afloat, even if they say otherwise.
The economy sucks everywhere (unless you’re from Utah, supposedly), so there’s every chance going home won’t provide you with a quiet opportunity to grow as a person and worker. Rather, you’ll be struggling to find work. Worst case scenario, you’ll end up with a black mark of unemployment on your record before you eventually leave town again for work elsewhere.
And that leaves us with students’ other problematic crutch. Few of us at Penn plan to go home, but so many of us do set our sights on another easy path. Go north, young man, all the way to Manhattan. It’s where the jobs and networks lie, after all.
But economy or no economy, this is the best chance you’ll ever get to change your stripes and take to the four winds. You will never again have so few tethers, and your choices will never again have such small opportunity costs.
As Cleary noted, students ought to be “open to different geographical locations” in the United States and abroad. So think about taking a job in Huntsville, Ala. or Kristiansund, Norway. After all, 10 years from now, you may find yourself in a Manhattan office or the town where you were born and wondering where else you could have been.
Luke Hassall is a College senior from Auckland, New Zealand. His e-mail address is hassall@theDP.com. Hassall-Free Fridays appears on alternate Fridays.Comments powered by Disqus
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