We’ve all been there—we are so absorbed by a task that we don’t notice that hours have passed, the sun has gone down, or that hunger has been gnawing away at us…because we are in the zone. In other words, we are in a “flow state.” This is a term coined by renowned professor of psychology Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who describes in his book “Flow” how people have tapped into the power of a flow state to change their lives, finding happiness along the way.
If you’ve ever experienced a flow state, you probably talk about it with a gleam in your eyes, and look forward to the next time it overtakes you. One way to encourage a flow state to return is to do something you genuinely like, and get paid for doing it. As someone who counsels business students on their job searches, I always encourage students to combine a passion they have with the skills they already possess as they seek employment opportunities.
Geography will help or hinder your job search
There is no shortage of content on how to find a job or launch a career, especially when you are very clear about what you are looking for. However, there is a dearth of information when it comes to seeking employment opportunities in different regions, markets and geographies.
There is a general rule of thumb I tell the students with whom I work: if you are looking to change your job function, industry and geography (especially country of employment): a solid job plan changes one of those, while a very ambitious plan can change two. Changing the full career trifecta is rare, and in most cases extremely challenging to make happen when looking to make the transition from business school to employment as quickly as possible.
At the start of a school year, I speak with enthusiastic students who range from knowing exactly what they want, to students who are less—much less—sure. To all of them I say this: Go where you are wanted. Go where your skills and pedigree are most appreciated and desired.
Job market hot spots
Not all job markets are alike. Some are stagnant, and some are very industry-specific, while others are on fire with opportunity. It’s important for job seekers to understand where these job hot spots are because that’s where the opportunities exist. If you don’t have geography as a constraint, you will get hired faster than your peers that do.
Many of our students at Hult aspire to work in the US. This is a good market and when students choose a particularly high-growth geography within the country, they can get even faster traction in their job search.
So what are the high-growth hot spots in the US? I’ve listed the top ten below, based on an index that combines population size, annual job growth, and the unemployment rate—to name a few factors:
- Dallas, TX
- Houston, TX
- Raleigh-Durham, NC
- Austin, TX
- San Francisco-San Jose, CA
- Oklahoma City, OK
- New York, NY
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Seattle, WA
- Denver, CO
There are some international markets that have an even higher demand for post-graduate talent. I advise students to consider Asia, the UAE, and Latin America (Mexico, Brazil and Argentina) as solid alternatives to re-starting their careers in the US.
Short-term sacrifices for long-term goals
Non-US citizens, keep this in mind: if you want to live and work outside your home country, you can either fight the good fight to secure a working visa in the US, for example, or you can return to your native country or another high growth international market to work for a global employer—and focus on impressing your employer and achieving an expat assignment and L1 visa for work in the US.
This strategy requires you to table an expat existence in the short-term, but it also gives you the chance to show you are a team player, prove your value to the company, and obtain corporate sponsorship to work outside your home country. I have worked with students who ultimately chose this path, many of whom are now successfully working in the US or other destination target countries. Certainly this is a strategy that requires some patience—but it can pay off in big ways.
Follow your career flow—wherever it leads
Achieving a fulfilling career is the hope I hold for every student. I don’t want anyone, certainly not the students I work with, to give up on the notion that you can love what you get paid to do. But when you are beginning to carve out a career, or in the midst of radically changing it, your job search can become excruciatingly challenging if you stubbornly stick to a list of “must-haves.”
Your career path, no matter where you tread on it now, is not one simple, straightforward terrain. It will have many twists and turns, and the landscape will change—many times. Focus on what is most important to you, and allow everything else to fall into place. I’ve worked with too many students and witnessed too many success stories to know that fruitful careers happen when students identify clear goals, exhibit flexibility, and don’t resist taking some risks.
And then career flow has a way of finding you. Just ask Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
-Kathrine Boshkoff, Vice President, Global Career Services, Hult International Business School
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