by Jack Rieger
About 2 million college seniors will graduate from an American university within the next year and make the transition from student to working professional. The joy and comfort associated with going out on Thursday nights to a bar full of people you know will end (by the way, The Stick is vastly overrated), and you will be expected to be productive on Fridays. Moving to a new city after graduation adds another complicated layer to this maturation process and can make becoming an adult seem pretty lonely.
I interned for Amazon as a financial analyst this summer in Seattle and had the opportunity to briefly experience this transition to adulthood. Moving to a new place and taking on a new job can be lonely, overwhelming, and straight up depressing, even for the most extroverted personalities. But it can also instill confidence, help you meet new people, and make you smarter.
Although uncomfortable, moving away from your college town after graduation is a risk worth taking, especially if it presents more lucrative and exciting job opportunities. It’s like when Kevin Durant left his old pal Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder for the more talented Golden State Warriors. Do you want to be the Kevin Durant who loses in the Western Conference Finals and lives in Oklahoma, or do you want to be the KD who wins championships and live in San Francisco? (You want to win championships and live in San Francisco).
Thanks to the three months I spent interning for Amazon in Seattle, I was able to assemble some basic guidelines and rules every postgraduate should observe in order to make the transition from college to adulthood more enjoyable.
Internships are like dating
I am a big proponent of internships, which were popularized in the 1980s thanks to American business schools offering students a way to “test drive” a career before committing to a long term contract. The downsides of internships are they don’t pay nearly as well as the full-time position, the employer doesn’t have to offer you the job at the completion of the term, and the company might not commit many resources to you because they aren’t sure if you’ll end up working there.
The greatest benefit internships provide is that they allow a 22-year-old college graduate to sample a company before committing to a new city and a long-term contract. It’s like having the option to date someone for three months before committing to marriage. Wouldn’t you always want that option? Several important questions are answered during that internship/dating period: Could I see myself living in this city? Do I like the dynamic of this new relationship? Are we sexually compatible? (Mormons typically don’t have this privilege)
Bottom line: just because your job coincides with your major does not necessarily mean you will enjoy the job. Take the car out for a test ride before committing long term. The worst thing you can do is move across the country for a job that you realize you hate within two weeks of living there. If there is an option to intern first, take it.
Become a “yes man”
The single most difficult part about moving to a new city and taking a new job is the loneliness you will experience in the first few weeks. Being alone is inevitable when you move to a new city, which can be a drastic change from the experience of living in a college community where everyone goes to the same bars and restaurants regularly. You will have to get comfortable eating alone, á la Steven Glansberg from the movie “Superbad”, and you will almost definitely find yourself striking up conversations with bartenders and cashiers because that may be your only human interaction for the day.
Being alone is not the worst thing in the world: it trains you to keep yourself entertained and reminds you how nice the luxury of friends and good conversation is. The goal is to not let the stretches of being alone become so elongated that you become lonely, sad and an overall depressing person to be with. The way you’re going to avoid becoming this person is by saying “yes” to literally every single invitation that comes your way.
The only people you will immediately know are the people you work with. These people will most likely invite you to events outside of work; say “yes” to all of them. A fellow accountant asks you to tag along to the seafood fair downtown? You are a crab leg enthusiast and can’t wait to go. A fellow nurse is taking your team to a new brewery on Saturday afternoon? You are a microbrew connoisseur who blogs about beer. Your boss wants to go golfing? You have a 12 handicap and just bought a brand new set of clubs that you can’t wait to use. As you attend more social events, you’ll give yourself an opportunity to meet new friends and spend less time alone.
Lastly, download Tinder and create an account. There is no shame in using Tinder to meet potential partners. College is filled with good-looking, sexually aroused 18-22 year olds that drink alcohol regularly. That market is tougher to identify outside of a college town, yet there happens to be a convenient and free app that helps us identify and match with those people with a swipe of the finger. Download Tinder and meet up with complete strangers.
Eat somewhere new every day
As the great Action Bronson once said, “All I believe in is food and myself.” Food plays a critical role in the culture of a city and, in many ways, represents a city’s personality. Southern states are best known for their barbecue, which represents the comfortable and laid back nature of the South. The Pacific Northwest has the country’s best seafood and pho, (much better than Reno pho) because of the region’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the influence of the prevalent Asian population. The best way to better understand a city’s soul is to eat its food.
When you move to a new city, your goal should be to eat at a different restaurant every single day. This strategy may seem expensive, but the good news is you can afford it thanks to that new job (unless you majored in psychology, sociology, political science or journalism).
Eating at new places simultaneously accomplishes several important things. First, it forces you to explore the different areas of a city. Pike Place Market – one of the most prominent food markets in the world – is located in downtown Seattle. A few miles east of Pike Place is a hipster pocket of Seattle called Capitol Hill that’s filled with local, delicious restaurants. The only reason I became familiarized with either of these areas is because of food.
Secondly, eating at new restaurants every day allows you to meet new people, which is, as discussed earlier, a valuable benefit. Restaurants are an especially good place to meet girls because it’s a non-threatening setting, waitresses tend to be good-looking girls, and girls like food. On a side note, bars are not a good place to meet quality partners. Do you like to imagine the future mother of your children taking shots of Jameson at a dive bar at 1 AM? Probably not. What if instead she was getting down on all you can eat tempura at a local sushi restaurant? That’s girlfriend material.
Moving to a new city and starting your career in a new place is difficult. Only 40 percent of all Americans end up living outside of their hometown because change is uncomfortable and it requires you to take a big risk. You will be lonely at times and will undoubtedly miss the convenience of walking into St. James on Saturday night and counting on knowing at least half of the bar. But the benefits of moving to a new city (meeting new friends, exposure to different cultures and perspectives, enhancing your job opportunities) far outweigh the initial struggles.
If you follow the guidelines laid out in this column, you will potentially transform into an obese, socially active intern regularly going on tinder dates. But more importantly, you will embrace your transition into adulthood and avoid the loneliness that can come along with moving to a new city.
Jack Rieger is a finance and economics student at the University of Nevada. He can be reached on Twitter @JackRieger or jrieger@Sagebrush.unr.edu