Graduation brings waves of choices

Brandon Wray and Brandon Wray

Where do you see yourself in five years? Kind of a clich’eacute; question you have probably been asked a number of times, by relatives at graduation parties, or maybe on entrance exams.

But as graduation approaches and you are doing your job search it is a question you should consider.

My goal here today is to challenge you into thinking about exactly where you want to build your career and indeed your entire post-college life.

Girls, play the Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” for music accompaniment. Guys, maybe cue up the Ramones’ cover of “California Sun.”

Through my own experiences (I am a first year graduate student and 1998 University graduate) and those of my friends, I think I have seen the majority of approaches to career and life-planning.

You first need to look at the important things in your life. What do you value most? Family? Friends (from college and high school)? Is there a significant other to consider? How about the weather?

The University Career Center advises you to start considering these issues early, perhaps at the beginning of your senior year or your last year of graduate school.

Let’s start with family and friends from home, assuming you are not from Bowling Green. Do you need to be in the same city as them? You are away from them right now, how has that gone? Can you still have close relationships from long distance? I say it depends on the nature of your relationships.

I am from Toledo and immediately moved to Cleveland after graduation for a job. I came home probably once a month, often adding a side trip to Bowling Green.

I found I maintained a good relationship with my family and was so-so with old friends.

A little under two hours drive was a good distance for family. I still talked to them every Sunday night as I had done in college. They would visit me every couple of months too. We were out of each others’ hair and polite and interested when we did see each other.

Friends were a toss-up. I was good with college friends. Toledo friends were a different story.

I know my best friend since grade school thought I abandoned him. First, I had gone away for college and then didn’t come back after school – and at the time gave no indication I would ever come back. As for others, there was the Toledo factor: everyone left, wasn’t coming back and didn’t care.

These old connections are something you must consider. If you move away, will occasional visits, phone calls and e-mails be enough? When I was in Cleveland, it worked. When I went further, it didn’t.

At 25, I took a job in Chattanooga, Tenn. It was a good career move. Personally, it was a mixed bag.

While certainly no social butterfly, I had always made friends fairly easily. But the south was a tough crowd. It was not welcoming to this Yankee who came to town as part of an all-Yankee new management team. I loved the weather, the scenery and the job, but I got very lonely. I was truly homesick. I missed my friends, family, Bowling Green, the Flats and Ohio State.

For me, at least at that time, I had gone too far. I eventually found a job that took me right back home, to Toledo.

On the flip side, I immediately think of a college friend who started out in Louisiana and now is in Washington D.C. without looking back. She even left behind a fianc’eacute;. Another girl worked in Kansas and then Florida before moving back home to Cleveland and getting married.

What do you want in a city? What do you want your lifestyle to be? What are the job prospects, now and in the future? What is the cost of living? The Career Center advises you to look at,,, (for crime statistics) and

Do you want to do the hustle and bustle of a big city? I know one girl who went from Piqua, Ohio to suburban Boston, then to New York City. Sounds like a Tom Petty song.

Perhaps a happy balance can be reached by living in Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati. I’ve lived in two out of three and can say they offered me just about everything I wanted, even if I did not recognize it at the time.

Chicago, where I lived in junior high, might be another option if you are thinking somewhere bigger, but don’t want to be too far from home.

For me, I would like to go back to a bigger city, where there is more to do and more opportunity, and preferably where I already know a few people.

So, consider what’s important to you now and in the future and research your options. You can go home, go far from home, or a couple of hours away, it’s all up to you. Don’t feel you are tied down unless you want to be. Be judicious, but also be bold.