Career/Major Choice Based on Location

I have many family members who are in all of the stages of college - entering, just starting, or just graduated. I had two aunts, twins who were born, raised, and currently finishing their Freshman year of college in Maine, visit me earlier this year. Their life experiences were minimal - neither of them had traveled outside of New England at all, and it was their first time flying too. During their stay, I did what I could to show them another world of the country that was much warmer and much more entertaining.

With that said, we also talked a lot about school since they are still unsure and changing majors is still pretty easy.

I know that many people who might have picked a major based on what he/she likes to do. Maybe there were others who had picked a major that was based on income. I’m also sure that there were career choices that were influenced by parents (be a doctor! Be a lawyer! #asianstereotypes). One thing I thought about was how useful it’d be to consider a college major/career choice based on where someone wanted to live.

I made a friend during my visit to the Philippines from San Francisco who went to an Ivy League school and majored in a STEM field. I can’t remember exactly, but it was a totally specialized engineering major. Where did she end up? In the middle of Nowhere, Indiana.

I, like many other people my age, would find it ideal to live the cushy, overpriced millennial life in the big cities. The obstacle? Income, of course!

My best friend of whom I lived with at two different places, lived at a prime spot in Boston around Newbury Street in a 250 square foot “penthouse studio” that was $1,600. You would hit the foot of the bed as you opened the door. Seriously. Thank God he’s a Software Engineer. This was in 2014, who knows how much the rent is now?

I lived in Central square in a mid sized, three bedroom apartment with two other Software Engineers. The total monthly rent was $3.4k. The suckers, I MEAN, people, who moved in afterwards were paying $4k. That’s an average of $1.3k not including utilities and other amenities. Our kitchen and living room were the same room.

To be blunt, and I mean no disrespect, but the average salary for someone who might get a job in the field who majored in criminal justice, art, english, or marketing right out of college might find it more difficult to live in Boston than someone who had majored in a STEM field. Again, I’m not saying it’s impossible. The thing to do nowadays is to have roommates. The issue with that is that the total cost of renting a room still costs about $1,000.

Honestly, if we were being “responsible”, us millennials would be putting money into a 401k in addition to another stash for a “rainy day” fund that should amount to a few months worth of expenses. I won’t get into hobbies, familial obligations, or debt. How many of us can deal with the expenses of what I just mentioned and live the life? It seems like a, “3 available choices, pick 2 only” kind of thing.

What I’m suggesting is that there’s real value in choosing a career and/or college major based on location + accompanying careers that are there which available and well paying. One of my aunts is very much into photography and media production. She’d probably do pretty well here in Hollywood, but in Boston? There’s a difference, for sure.

I very much need to mention that it’s not impossible to achieve greatness and comfort early on, it’s just harder. What I mean is that if you want to be an artist living in Boston, you damn well better be hustlin’. Get your name and work out there in the community, work on creating things in your free time, get paid for it via internships, Etsy, Ebay, ANYTHING. Start yesterday. It’s not impossible, but realize how hard you have to work in addition to the other people you’re up against. This is true for everything. Just do every freakin thing you can to ensure success.

I’ve heard the saying, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve also heard someone say that having a hobby as a career is horrible; it’s meant to be something one can enjoy, not grow to hate as part of the grind. I’m more on the first part.

Whatever your opinion, consider all aspects of a career (demand, compensation, work/life balance, etc) and make a decision to be comfortable with the lifestyle that may be prevalent. If it isn’t already, make sure that location is a factor, and a very large one.