I’m 27, single, and don’t have a lot tying me down. I’ve travelled to 34 states, 2 Canadian provinces, and Germany and France, but have never lived more than 100 miles from my home town. The largest city I’ve lived in has 73,344 people. I really want to see what it’s like to live outside of the piney woods of East Texas. I’m kind of leaning towards Dallas or Houston since visiting family and friends would just require a couple of hours of driving, but I’ve been considering some cities in the midwest too. However, choosing a city is not why I’m making this thread.
I have an Associate’s degree in Computer Systems / Networking Technology. It has offered me practically no help in getting a job. That may be partially due to my location. This isn’t exactly the technological capital of the world. But I doubt employers anywhere are going to be desperate to hire me. It’s a saturated field. My current job is operating a cutting table, which is somewhat similar to a machinist, but since it’s optical and not CNC (old technology, the machine is a month older than I am), it’s a pretty obscure job. Consequently, I have no highly desirable job skills.
This being the case, it’s hard to find an employer that would consider hiring someone that lives outside the area. Just packing up and moving there without a job doesn’t seem like a great option either. I don’t want to get stuck working for $8/hr barely able to get by. I don’t want to throw away what I have and end up failing when I move. I just don’t know which direction I should take. What advice can you guys offer me?
From the perspective of someone who’s 53 and looking back over her life…
Having no marketable resume actually seems to me like it frees you up to follow your heart. You don’t have to pick a specific locale just because it can offer you a job–you can go absolutely anywhere your heart desires. So I’d sit down and spend some serious think-time regarding what you’ve always dreamed of doing in your life. Then go after it. It may take more schooling, and if so, go for it. And yeah, it may require you to spend some time at a minimum wage grunt job–so what? As long as you’re using it as a stepping stone, say while you’re going back to school, it’s all progress. No experience is ever truly wasted, IMO. Think of it as investment for when you’re 53 and are looking back over your life. What are you going to regret not having done?
I wouldn’t narrow my choices down to “well, um, my folks live pretty close, so, um, maybe I’ll go there”. Ya gotta dream bigger than that, kiddo. Look around on the Internet for some of those “10 Best Places to Live” lists, as a starting point.
Also, I lived in Dallas for six years in the early 80s, and–with apologies to all the nice Dallas Dopers–I wouldn’t wish a life spent in Dallas, Texas on a dog. People are crazy, there, yanno?
If you really like the computer stuff, and it’s why you got your degree in it, then I’d pursue a career in that more aggressively. More training, to specialize in a saturated field? Better location? Sit down and woodshed this.
If you really like the machinist stuff, ditto–sit down and woodshed. Get more training so you’re up to speed with current technology and broaden your options? Better location?
Ya know, I just came back from visiting Chicago two weeks ago and I did enjoy it. I’d even have a friend there. However, the cost of living is a bit high there. The jobs may pay more, but from what I’ve seen and heard, it doesn’t completely make up for it. Something more like Indianapolis or Kansas City might be my cup of tea. But I think I could decide on a city fairly easily.
You definitely have some good points as far as getting a job. I really don’t know which path I want to take. I just want something new. I’m not where I want to be 20 years from now. I’m hoping moving to a larger city will give me more options.
You know I’d be pretty confident that if you up and moved to a city with a good job market, that you could find a job that pays more than $8/hr. If nothing else the work you do now shows you can be trusted to show up every day and operate expensive machinery, I’m sure someone would find a way to put you to good use. The first job might not be the most exciting job in the world, but it would pay the bills while you figured out a game plan.
Also keep in mind that larger cities will have lot of schools that are accessible to working adults. So if you decide on a new career path down the line you should be able to find a way to put yourself through school.
Pick someplace, move, work crap jobs as needed. If you work hard, things will fall into place.
About three years ago, I dropped out of school (and by dropped out I mean flunked out). I moved back home for a while and worked a mind-shatteringly awful job for a few months*. Then I paid a couple hundred bucks for a six-month student visa and a plane ticket and moved to London for six months. I had no local references, no real skills beyond basic office-computer skills, and my education was three months towards a philosophy degree. I found enough work to get by, and it was the best damn thing I’ve ever done.
*Doing data entry. For the federal government. After the first few eight-hour shifts of typing numbers into a computer, your brain just screams in pain, then dies. It did, however, pay $14/hour, which I knew would let me move on in a few months. On my lunch break I would look through guidebooks of the places in Europe I planned to go to get myself through the rest of the shift.
Have you actually tried, or are you making an assumption that you won’t be able to find one? Just asking, because I know from my own experience how easy it is to talk yourself out of being employable without actually submitting any applications.
If you have tried and that seems to be the barrier, maybe they’re worried you are going to ask for relocation expenses. If you’re willing to foot that bill yourself, let them know you were planning to move to their area anyway and aren’t asking for your expenses to be paid.
Just because a market is saturated doesn’t mean there are no job openings, and you have an advantage if there are several cities you’d consider moving to. Also, how did you learn how to do your current job? If you learned on the job, then I don’t see why an employer wouldn’t consider you. Sure, everybody would love the dream employee who walks in the door knowing everything they need to know, but employers don’t always get that. Demonstrating responsibility and an aptitude for learning can count for a lot.
Final bit of advice is to save up what you can before moving so you have a financial cushion during the transition.
Have fun exploring a new city! There are times I think about going back to apartment life and moving to a new city every few years. But I’m so settled into my house and have started dumping money into fixing it up. It doesn’t make sense to uproot now.
I have tried. Most of the ads I see say something about local applicants only. I applied to a few that didn’t and got nowhere. I’ve really only concentrated on Dallas and Houston so far, although I can’t imagine why it would vary by city.
And this won’t be something I do very soon. I have financial stuff I want to square away first and then save up a cushion. I’ve just been thinking about this for years and have tried to move on more than one occasion and failed. I guess I’ve been going about it all wrong. Good advice.
Indianapolis and Kansas City are smaller than Chicago–noticeably–and don’t have near the job market, both for high-tech and low-tech jobs, that the Chicago Metro area, which comprises basically everything from Waukegan to Elgin to Hammond, Indiana, has. Go look at this map of population density, and compare the enormous sprawl that is the Greater Chicago area with the obviously smaller blobs that are Indianapolis and KC. If you’re going to walk into a city, cold, and expect to pick up a job, you need the biggest, most populous, most prosperous, most economically humming, least stagnant place you can find, and a small-er city like Indianapolis or KC isn’t going to do it.
My ex-boss fired me and my wife because I wouldn’t lie to his boss for him. A buddy of mine had shown up the night before to pick me up to go to the Moab area. We came out here and all I could think about was :I need a job and some place to live". It suddenly hit me: “There are lots of folks in Moab that are both stupider and lazier than me.” That’s when I started shopping for real estate.
I’m glad to hear that you had a good experience in NY, pbbth. The city’s been pretty mean and brutal to me, though, and I wouldn’t recommend it to most people. I especially wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have a real plan or any concrete reason to live there. But, YMMV. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky.
Snailboy–what sorts of places do you like? Do you want a big city, a medium-sized city, a small town somewhere beautiful? What do you like to do in your spare time? That’ll help us give you some suggestions.
Things can vary a lot by city, because local economies vary.
There have been some articles this year in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about a need here for people in manufacturing with more current technical skills. That’s a bummer for you, since you say you’re working on older technology (one of the articles mentions CNC). It also mentions that there is going to be a manufacturing exhibit at the State Fair this year:
(If that link doesn’t work, you’ll have to create a free login to read it…the Strib isn’t the friendliest paper in terms of allowing people without logins to read.)
The article also mentions CAD, and there is at least one school here that teaches that. I didn’t look cloesely, but the website has a link for financial aid: http://www.nti.edu/
Anyway, I can’t find it now, but last night I did see an article from March of local workers saying they’re having a hard time finding work. The problem sounds like the shift in technology, though, because the same article says there is a demand for more workers. That’s a bummer, because it would be nice if employers would train their workforce when they upgrade. On the other hand, it could mean job opportunities for you if you get the training yourself.
The Minneapolis/St. Paul area has a lot of medical device manufacturing (we have Boston Scientific and Medtronic here, along with smaller companies). From what I’m reading, there is also demand in other manufacturing industries. Ah, and here is the perfect place for you to start networking if you are at all willing to consider Minneapolis–The Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association:
I note that there is a link in the lower right corner for a discussion forum for industry professionals. Sounds like a networking opportunity to me. Maybe other places have such associations that can help too.
You are a wise man to square away the financial stuff and to plan this move. You’ll figure it out! Good luck.
P.S. We also have a good number of tech jobs here, if that’s the direction you’d like to go, rather than manufacturing. We did get beat up when the bubble burst, and a lot of jobs did move to India. However, if you’re willling to work with India, you can still find plenty of tech jobs here. Not sure about networking specifically, though.
I was thinking of a fairly large city, but not so big I can’t escape it occasionally. I come from the sticks and hate it. From my home town, you have to drive 10 miles to get to a grocery store. I always love visiting large cities. I’d like to be able to get out and ride my dirt bike a few times a year though.
A strong college town or city would be good, as I would recommend you go the extra mile and get at least a bachelor’s degree. Even if you end up working in something different, I’ve found possessing a four-year degree in anything is looked on favorably and would very likely increase your chances of employment.