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The Reality of Relocation
By Ashley Collins, AgCareers.com Education & Marketing Manager
If you were to ask me five years ago, at the beginning of my second major relocation, what I thought the reality of relocation was, I would have told you that it stunk! I had moved once to Iowa for my job, then back to my home state of North Carolina, still four hours from my hometown, and then to South Georgia for my husband’s new career. I hated to leave behind my circle of friends and the luxury of living within a thirty to forty minute drive to multiple Target’s. I now drive over an hour and a half to get to one Target!
Outside of my own situation, another reality of relocation for college graduates is that it can be a barrier as they seek employment after graduation. Many students graduating with an agricultural-related degree, or seeking employment in agriculture, share a similar personality trait. That trait is a love of the land, and a need to be near that land, the farm, or the ranch. That desire may limit their career choices. This trait is often accompanied by a strong bond with family. This attribute obviously isn’t specific or limited to people in the agriculture industry but it does tend to play a considerable role among agriculture graduates when it comes to the location of their potential careers.
However, another reality of relocation is that it can open up so many doors. By removing yourself from your comfort zone, new opportunities in language, food, religion, cultural experiences and many more opportunities become part of your life story. Some you will not like, for example driving over an hour to get to Target, and others you may embrace and develop lifelong traditions, like the hymn that our church sings every Sunday as we dismiss which I find myself humming all week long. I grew up in church all my life and never heard this hymn and now it’s one of my favorites.
Relocating can also open up some fantastic career opportunities that you deserve following the hard work you did to earn your degree. Anna Leigh Peek is from a small town in Alabama. Peek graduated in May 2014 from Auburn University and moved to St. Louis, MO for a job with Monsanto. While moving back home after college was tempting, Peek says “I cannot imagine what kind of job I would have found if I were dead-set on going back to my hometown. I most likely would have had to settle for a low-paying and low ceiling job with little to no room for advancement. While I am hundreds of miles from home I can already see numerous opportunities for growth in the career I’ve chosen.”
Perhaps one of the most feared realities of relocation is the fear that it can be difficult, lonely, and at times depressing. Especially if you move to a city or town where you don’t know anyone, a simple decision like where to get a haircut, can seem overwhelming when you have no prior experience or recommendations to help you make the choice. I can attest that each of those emotions and many more can be true but circumvented if you mentally prepare and approach the transition with a plan for a positive experience.
Ryan Amaral works with the National FFA Organization, moved from California to Indianapolis three years ago, following his graduation, provides the following advice for preparing yourself ahead of time for a move: “It is hard to make new friends after college, they will come with time. Get involved in whatever you can that remotely peeks your interest and not just at work. Use your network…chances are you know someone who knows someone near where you’re moving. Lastly, fall in love with your new city…. You’re going to be living there for an extended period of time, don’t waste time being miserable.”
Careers in agriculture are diverse and changing every day. There are great careers in big cities where there are lots of people to meet, places to go and things to do. There are also some great careers in small towns and rural areas. Areas where meeting people can be a challenge, places to go are a day’s drive away, and things to do are pretty limited by the day of the week and the temperature outside. Aligning your career goals and your personality for the location of the job is an important step to approaching the location of your first job. Do your homework before making a decision but realize that the reality of relocation is like most things in life, it has its positives and negatives but you’ll never know what you’re missing until you give it a try. And at the very least nothing has to be permanent, this generation is estimated to make between seven and ten career changes in your life and chances are not all those careers will be in the same town or city!