Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Find a Job & Apartment in Style-- A Simple Guide

As a college senior, I've done more than fair share of job searching and interviewing, all in the name of figuring out "what I want to be when I grow up." Having recently received an offer for employment in the competitive field of management consulting, I can safely say that if you follow my advice you will be more than prepared to find a job in the city of your choice. It's not easy, but if you set out with a clear goal, it's absolutely possible to achieve it.

The first two things you need to do are the following: 1) figure out what kind of work you want to do and 2) figure out where in the world you want to do it. For some people, the most important thing is the location, for others it's the work. Either way, you need to make some decisions in order to figure out where to go next.

For all intensive purposes, let's assume you're looking at advertising. If you aren't actually looking at advertising, you probably should. It's exciting, creative and attracts a great deal of Integrated Marketing Communications students. A quick search reveals that big cities are home to the best ad agencies, so if you want to work for these agencies, a move to the city is the next logical step, whether it's Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or somewhere else.

So you've sent your emails to the HR reps, set up informational interviews and coffee chats, and sent in all your application emails... now what? My best tip for you is to ask for advice. It sounds silly, but asking for advice from experienced professionals in the field will teach you far more than reading a blog post online. Keep asking for and taking advice, and the job will come.

But where are you going to live? The city represents the scary and unknown to many people. That’s why I'm here to give the full rundown on where to live if you’re a young 20-something entering the workforce. According to’s annual list of best cities for recent college graduates, a robust job market is the top factor driving the decision to relocate. By using social media tools, you can get a sense of the jobs in each city and whether the culture is the right fit for you. 

The list of top 10 cities for recent college graduates includes up-and-coming cities like Atlanta and Dallas, but the focus of today’s blog post will be the best places for recent grads to live in the city of Chicago. An advertising hub, the opportunities for Integrated Marketing Communications students are endless. From Leo Burnett to Starcom to PlanB, agencies are looking for grads skilled in digital, interactive and social marketing. 

Obviously, one’s income will greatly determine the neighborhood and home, so it’s important that we first look at the average incomes for different jobs. If you’re currently in the midst of the job search, the expected salary might affect the apartment search. Because many of our readers studied marketing in college, we’ll focus on the $37,000 annual salary range.

Looking at Chicago specifically, we’re going to look first at the neighborhoods that are attractive (and affordable) to recent college graduates. Two neighborhoods in particular, Lincoln Park and Wicker Park, are popular spots for grads working in the marketing and advertising business. Unlike Gold Coast and River North, which may be less affordable for people starting up a career. Lincoln Park offers a number of benefits. It’s a young community with a number of bars, restaurants and shopping in the area. There's even a zoo (@lincolnparkzoo). It also is fairly easy to get downtown to the Loop on the train. Wicker Park is home to a similar age group, but with a more edgy vibe. Search "Wicker Park" on YouTube or Twitter and you'll find a bevy of quirky videos about the up and coming neighborhood. With vibrant nightlife and an active art scene, it’s no wonder that the median age in this hip neighborhood is 30 years old.

Wicker Park, Chicago

In many cases, the best way to get a feel for a neighborhood is by visiting. Those of you who cannot fly into Chicago for the weekend to get a feel of a neighborhood might benefit from our “Day in the Life” video series. Click here to watch the first installment from our resident blogger.

To summarize, the job and apartment search really go hand in hand. If you do your research and take good advice, you'll find yourself in a great place... literally and figuratively. I didn't just wake up one morning and decide I wanted to live in Chicago after graduation. It's a process, so take the proper steps, do some soul searching and use the resources I've provided to get a feel for the ad world and the Chicago neighborhoods. Next week check back for my next installment on New York City Living! 

Natalie Marks, Undergraduate IMC, @npmarks

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