‘Tis the season – for that first serious job search

Graduation is just the beginning

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

Graduation, whether high school or college, is a major life transition, but in both cases that is just the beginning.

You might call education the preparation for what was the intention all along – a job – with as much resonance with educational background as possible.

The mismatch of college majors and career field is legendary, but, no matter how closely (or distantly) your career track matches your educational pursuits, education establishes a basis, for most a shared experience, and for many a once in a lifetime networking opportunity, but, on a practical level, that first professional job is where it all comes into focus.

I’ve been a college student (undergraduate and graduate level) and taught at a range of colleges form community colleges to local vocational colleges and even a non-profit college or two.

Even as a high school student, I wondered about the linkage and relevance between an educational program and the intended career field – often with several years between the educational decision and that first serious job search.

I left teaching a few years ago, but even then I was telling my students to keep an eye on two major fields that would offer both job security and unparalleled opportunity.

The two areas have become ever more focused – if not urgent; health care and emerging technologies.

Recent surveys show a career landscape far better than we have seen for many years; most employers expect to hire about 10% more than a year ago, with starting pay expected to rise.

You can see the fine print on specific career tracks and their growth potential here: https://www.rentcafe.com/blog/apartment-search-2/money/hottest-jobs-for-graduates-and-the-metros-to-find-them/.

That first full-time professional job is likely to include more than just stable employment – it is likely to include a geographic move as well.

The pandemic may have come (and we hope) gone, the WFH (work from home) movement and economic uncertainty have certainly up-ended many aspects of the job market (and every other aspect of the economy) but some things have stayed essentially the same: where the jobs are.

In terms of where the jobs are, the top ten or so job markets are basically a collection of the usual suspects.

You can count on seeing New York City, Boston and San Francisco area on any of these lists consistently, year after year.

2021, as you might expect, holds a few surprises – even as it confirms pre-existing trends.

San Jose, California, to no one’s surprise, heads the list, not only on the West Coast, but nationwide.

Washington, D.C., after a lull, is the hottest job market on the East Coast.

Number three nationwide is Seattle.

Seattle, in terms of new-graduate job prospects, is ahead of Boston, New York City and even San Francisco.

Some cites have a clearly defined career emphasis, publishing in New York, technology in the greater San Francisco Bay area for example, but Seattle has a (far) wider range of possibilities. These might include software developing or market research, but Seattle may actually be the best choice for management entry-levels in sales, construction, medical and health services or administrative services.

In spite of the near relentless “Seattle is dying” motif of a few local news organizations, a drive through the city (or a look at online job openings) tells a very different story.

When it comes to jobs, (and a touch of panache) The Emerald City delivers.

Whether it deserves it or not, spending time in Seattle holds a “cool quotient” few cities can match.

If the cost of living in and around Seattle, or the consistently dreadful commuting experience put you off, you might consider something completely different – Ohio.

Ohio metros are a great option for the hottest jobs for recent grads. For instance, Toledo has a surging market for medical professionals. Cleveland is hot, and Dayton metro is the best for entry-level careers in various fields, including aerospace engineering, computer science, urban and regional planning, education and occupational therapy.

Wherever you go, and whatever career track you find yourself on, the future is far more open-ended than it was even one year ago.


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