Location, location, location
With two semesters, aka 8 months, left before I complete my undergraduate curriculum and enter the scary, and very real, world of independent adulthood, so I've been thinking a lot about my post-graduation plans. As I scroll through the online job boards, 37Signals, Treehouse, and AuthenticJobs (my personal favorite), the biggest factor I take in from each posting is location. Sure the various perks offered by the more generous companies are nice to look at, and as a soon-to-be graduate in this day and age, I should just be grateful to receive employment from whomever is providing a steady paycheck and desk. However, as an ambitious student, I still believe my first job experience will be majorly impacted by where I'll be living.
A lot of my fellow graduates will try to look within their own state or an hour from where they graduated, thinking it's too risky to look much further than that. But that is exactly why they should branch out and look across the country or the world for the best opportunity. Our early 20s are really the only time we can easily pack up a couple bags of clothes and our computer in order to just move somewhere else. The majority of students who were detained to going to college in-state when they dreamed of studying abroad now have the freedom to take a chance and explore all of their options.
The city we decide to work in is not just that; it is where we make our friends, find our hangouts and hobbies, and start to figure out what we really want out of life. In Orlando, I have nearly exhausted all chances to discover anything new in the area. I have attended the downtown meetups, visited Universal and Disney so many times I've memorized the dialogue on The Mummy and Jungle Cruise, and even explored the surrounding wilderness while geocaching. There are still a few rocks left unturned but not nearly enough for me to stick around another 4 or 5 years.
I am fortunate enough to have a skill set that is universal to almost any region of the country and not restricted to just one industry. As I started to discover the incredible need for designers and front-end developers, I decided I would like to travel following my departure from higher-education. The bulk of my efforts are looking out of the country, due to the fact that I have never left United States outside a three day cruise to the Bahamas at the age of 10. Why visit Europe for a short and expensive stay, when I can instead be paid to live there and explore as much as I would like during my free time. The main arguments I've heard against this concern the paperwork required, the small flats I'll have to live in, and the lack of automobile accessibility, but these are paltry obstacles in the way of biking through the English countryside, watching the Eiffel Tower light up at night, and taking a boat down the Danube because they are all just a train ride away.
Side Note: As to my family members who may be reading this and wondering why I'm not too concerned about being so far from home during the holidays and birthdays, the Internet is a wonderful thing for instant communication; they even have this crazy thing called Skype and FaceTime for video calling! Plus, who wouldn't want to visit their son/nephew/cousin in Europe for Christmas or New Years? The five years or so will fly by in the grand scheme of things, and I'll return with plenty of souvenirs for everyone.
All that I want out of the city in which I live out my 20s is great public transportation, the ability to bike on real roads rather than highways, and cool places to see/things to do during my free time. Using these requirements, I have whittled down the list to San Francisco, New York City/New England area, and London/outlying area. These are not places where I plan on laying down my baggage for the rest of my life but they are certainly spectacular pit stops as I explore what life has to offer an enthusiastic, self-starting UI/front-end designer.
So I will continue my cross-country(ies) search for the best opportunity for me, and I have 8 months to complete my task with living/traveling arrangements ready to go. It is quite an undertaking while I'm still finishing up a full class load and job, but it will be completely worth it once I'm boarding the plane and headed off to a new experience. I draw inspiration from my favorite Pixar movie, Up, and remember that, "Adventure is out there!".