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What are the top factors students consider when deciding where to start their careers?

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 25, 2011 03:36 PM

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As you know, I'm very interested in how New England can retain more of the talented young whippersnappers who come here to get an education... both as workers and as company founders.

The Wall Street Journal this week covered some of the ways that New England states are trying to entice recent grads to stick around, from funding internships at private companies (MA) to simply "forking over cash" (VT). From that piece:

With census figures showing New England leads other parts of the U.S. in the decline of its under-45 age group, the Granite State and its neighbors are desperate to keep young people around.

..."I can't think of anything more important," said Steve Boucher, legislative director of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development.

I totally agree. And today, I had the chance to survey a class of about 30 Harvard undergrads about how they think about where they'll wind up after graduation. (The class was "Reinventing Boston: The Changing American City.")

Here's what they said:

  1. Is the city an epicenter for the field I want to be in, and are there plenty of job opportunities?
  2. Cost of living
  3. Culture
  4. Are some of my peers going there too?
  5. Is it a safe place to live?
  6. Weather

It's a small sample size, I know. And I think you have to consider cost of living in the context of whether you can make a living somewhere. (It's easy to buy a house in Albuquerque, but you may not be able to do much with your biomedical engineering degree there.) But interesting that "jobs" and "culture" appear so high up, and "weather" so low...

If you're a student, is there something else you'd include on the list? Does this sound right to you?

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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