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Location, Location, Location

Like many RC’s, I’ve now ramped up my search for the elusively-ideal summer internship. I now realize that we’re blessed with a curse, of sorts, in having the luxury to choose a new industry or function. Important in this decision process, which I really hadn’t given much thought to, is geography.

At the outset, I figured that I was really more inclined to make a job decision on the appeal of the opportunity versus its location. “That sounds like amazing work – I’m sure I’ll grow to love Omaha.” Really? Who have I turned into? What if I want Thai food delivery past 10 pm or can’t possibly stand the sight of another minivan-clogged shopping center? Despite the rhetoric of work/life balance, I naively neglected any thought about geography beyond finding unique opportunities.

Ever the contrarian, I think there might be tremendous value in searching for opportunities outside of the Big Six major metro areas. HBS alums in smaller cities are astonishingly receptive and the opportunities to excel in a labor market with fewer Ivy MBA’s affords an attractive big fish/small pond opportunity. I’ve added some regions that I might not have readily considered for my summer search process. In the process, I’m trying to keep a few things in mind so that I don’t hit a dead-end in a couple years if, by some fateful intervention, I actually end up in one of these cities.

One consideration is the presence of other young and motivated peers. Surprisingly, cities like Denver, Columbus, and Pittsburgh (gasp – red states!) surprisingly boast better arts scenes than Washington, DC, where I lived prior to HBS. It’s no secret, too, that $300,000 buys an amazing-restored brownstone in St. Louis or Minneapolis, while it affords merely a studio apartment with an outdated kitchen and bathroom in San Francisco or Boston. While I’m not necessarily ready to make a move to Amarillo, there must be a balance between its polar opposite of New York.
In a nutshell, I’m open-minded about where I might end up after HBS.

Or, I might just have a summer fling in a smaller city that I never knew had amazing Lebanese food (Detroit) or top-notch donuts (Seattle). The real question, though, is whether I’m ready to sell-out and get a car.

January 18, 2005
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