The Happiest Cities, Jobs, And Employers For Young Professionals

San Jose - Sunnyvale - Santa Clara, CA, metro area topped the list of the most popular metros for young professionals

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA, metro area topped the list of the most popular locales for young professionals (Photo: Ed Schipul)

“You have to go where things happen.”

Remember that line from A League of Their Own? At a train station, a father comforts his anxious daughter, who’s fretting over who’ll take care of him once she leaves. But her father grasps the bigger picture. He recognizes that his daughter has the talent to play baseball. And this gift will eventually be her passport to opportunities she couldn’t yet fathom. That’s why he pushed her to take a leap of faith and embrace what he saw in her.

Letting go and breaking away…isn’t that what early adulthood is all about? We test out new identities, probing our boundaries to learn what’s pleasurable and possible. Even more, we seek out kindred spirits who share our values and aspirations – and will accept and encourage us. In other words, we pursue that special place where things might happen for us.

Geography is destiny. That may apply to geopolitics and faith, but it also pertains to our careers. Here is how your career – like most – will unfold. After graduation, you’ll land a job somewhere like Columbia, Missouri. Maybe you’ll move up and out after a few years. Chances are, you’ll develop a circle of friends. You’ll meet a life partner, plow your savings into a mortgage, and start a family. At the same time, you’ll hone your expertise in a specific area, where you’ll develop a network and reputation – your two most valuable commodities. Eventually, you’ll find yourself anchored, professionally and personally. And you’ll begin to choose what’s convenient and dismiss what’s uncertain.

That’s the natural order. Question is, have you settled into a locale where things can still happen?

The Best Locations to Start a Career

“Where do I want to live?” That’s your first big decision as a business graduate. In reality, you need to ask a more precise question: “Where will I ultimately find the most opportunities and people just like me?

This spring, CareerBliss, a career website featuring professional advice, job postings, and company reviews and salaries, conducted a study to answer just that. It was based off the results of CareerBliss’ “Happiest Jobs for the Class of 2014” survey.  Using data from 25,000 company reviews that were filled out from January 2011 to March 2014, these reviews measured employees’ satisfaction with their “manager and coworkers, encouragement and rewards received, opportunities for professional growth, company environment and culture, workflow, and day-to-day responsibilities.” This data was, in turn, cross-referenced against the respondents’ location to identify the top locations.

And the results can be summed up in a popular phrase: “Go West, young man.” Overall, four of the six most popular destinations are based in California, with Silicon Valley topping the list. That’s not surprising: Silicon Valley is where the action is, headlined by Google, Facebook, Apple, eBay, Intel, Netflix, Adobe, Salesforce.com, Symantec, and LinkedIn (just to name a few). And that doesn’t include the lure of launching and cashing out a startup. And when you factor the San Francisco-Oakland corridor into the mix, the Bay Area is truly the place to be.

Surprisingly, New York City has slipped to No. 7 among graduates, barely ahead of recession-ridden Las Vegas. The Big Apple, long considered the nation’s financial and cultural Mecca, apparently no longer captures the imagination of Ivy League bluebloods and Midwesterners looking to reinvent themselves. Despite its vibrant nightlife and entrepreneurial bloodlines, Austin, Texas, failed to crack the top 10.

Here are the top 10 metros for young professionals according to CareerBliss:

1) San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara, CA

2) Miami – Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach, FL

3) Los Angeles – Long Beach – Santa Ana, CA

4) Washington, D.C. – Arlington, Alexandria, VA

5) San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos, CA

6) San Francisco – Oakland – Fremont, CA

7) New York City – Northern New Jersey – Long Island, NY / NJ

8) Las Vegas – Paradise, NV

9) Boston – Cambridge – Quincy, MA

10) Virginia Beach – Norfolk – Newport News, VA

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