By Luisa Florez
For many, graduation is right around the corner. In a couple of months, the nation’s newest cohort of scientists and engineers will be walking across the stage into the endless opportunities that STEM degrees provide. With engineering and science skills in high demand, it is not uncommon to find yourself with job offers or graduate acceptance letters that require you to relocate to a new city, state, or even country, right out of undergrad. No matter if you are a recent grad, a young or experienced professional, accepting these offers is a big decision, and it’s only natural to feel excited and nervous at the possibilities.
We asked SHPE Professional Miguel Fraga to share his journey of relocating from Space City to the Windy City for work.
I just moved across the country, now what?
By Miguel Fraga
Have you ever thought about picking up your things and moving to the other side of country?
Has your manger offered you a position in a new city?
Well I did.
6 months ago, I decided to move across the country from Houston, Texas to Chicago, Illinois. I traded BBQ and 100 degree summers for deep dish pizza and single digit winter temperatures. The goal of this article is share some of my experience with those contemplating a similar move to new city and tips to help make the transition go smoothly.
In the year 2018 there is no place to hide from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat so use that for your advantage. When I decided whether I wanted to move to Chicago or not, the first thing I did was search my social networks to see if I personally knew anyone in city. Sure enough, I found out that 3 of my friends had made a similar move from Texas to Chicago. Although it had been a few years since we last spoke to them, I reached out and was happily surprised at how easy it was for us to reconnect. I would encourage any of you to do the same and they were amazing resources during my move. In addition, friends in the area don’t have to be within the same city either. One of my good college friends and fellow UT SHPEy lives in Detroit which is about a 4-hour drive from Chicago. It helps when it is easy to make a drive to go visit friends on the weekends explore new cities together.
Believe or not. My coworkers have been extremely helpful in my transition. Our current team is composed of mostly young people around my same age and it helps that they are willing to let new members join their social circle after work. Especially when moving to a new city, chances are your coworkers have gone through a similar experience and it helps when someone is able to relate to your current situation. I would suggest being more involved in any outside groups the company may offer at your new location. For example, our onsite team schedules a monthly fellowship activity in the city and I have grown to value these events with my coworkers. The fellowships allow us to meet outside of our normal work setting. In addition, ask your coworkers what they like to do in the weekend and chances are they would be more than willing to invite you out. I know a few weekends have been a lot more enjoyable because they have invited me out to different events going on in the city.
University Alumni Groups
If you are moving to a city or close enough to big city make some time to search on the internet or social media for any alumni groups in your area. The University of Texas at Austin has one of the biggest alumni groups in the world and they have established local chapters in different cities around world. One question I had to ask myself before I made the move was, “Where am I going to watch my longhorns play on Saturdays?” I did some research and discovered that the Texas Exes Chapter in Chicago is one of the most active chapter in the country. I also did some research on their Facebook page and found out that they host watch parties for every game at one of the local bars in the city. I decided to venture out to one of their first events and I had a chance to meet the board members for the chapter. Needless to say, by attending their events I met some great people that were more than welcoming to a fellow longhorn.
This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give anyone contemplating a future move. While I was working in Houston, I was in journey to try to discover myself and what I actually like to do outside of work. My company is very active in local community, and I joined a mentorship program at the local middle school which was supported by our employees. When I moved, I realized that mentoring was one of the things you do not realize how much you miss doing until you stop. I made it a priority for myself to not let the move discourage me from continuing to volunteer. Chicago is the third largest city in the America and the need for volunteers for different causes is as great as in Houston. I decided to do some research on different nonprofits where I could mentor a student within my schedule. After a few weeks of reaching out and deciding between different non-profits, I attended a mentor information session with iMentor Chicago. iMentor pairs college graduates with high school students in their junior and senior year of high school. As a mentor, you guide the student through their final high school years and advise them to attend college. The program is flexible on both the student and the mentor in that most of the mentoring happens online through the iMentor portal where each week you connect with your mentee and also attend one monthly in person session. iMentor allowed me to continue my passion for mentoring students and networking with other mentors. My advice would be to search for those opportunities and give back to the community you are now going to be a part of.
Enjoy the Moment!
It is easy to get homesick and miss your family/friends from time to time while you are away from home. I admit it. I have had those days where I want to pack everything and go home. However, think about how many people do not get to experience or yet live in a different part of the country, so enjoy the moment, explore the nature around you, because chances are – you will never get a similar experience again.
Hope this information helps and wish you the best in this journey. Remember you only miss 100% of the shots you do not take.