Lauren Parrish/ Courtesy Photo

The choice isn’t always clear for soon-to-be graduates – move back home or start somewhere new? Often, graduates believe becoming successful requires moving away to a new city to begin their post-graduate lives. This idea keeps many from moving back home in fear of being seen as a failure. But for some Cal Poly students, location isn’t the key to success.

Finding fulfillment in San Francisco

“You have two weeks to move.”

It was Dec. 19, 2016, and Lauren Parrish, who graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in English, just received the news of a lifetime — she got the job.

With that elation, however, came a reality check. She had exactly 15 days to move from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco where she would be sitting in the office chair she occupies today.

It was an overwhelming task for Parrish, but the small-town girl from Madera, California was determined to live it large in the city.

With merely two weeks to find somewhere to live, Parrish and her mom drove up to San Francisco in search of a quick solution.

By a stroke of luck, Parrish was able to view an apartment, get approved and sign a lease all in one day. She moved in on New Year’s Day and began working Jan. 3, 2017.

Now that Parrish is two years out of college and living in San Francisco, she sees how the perceived success that comes from working right out of college isn’t necessarily what everyone is achieving, she said.

“Once you actually get out of college a little further, you realize that people are still figuring out what they’re doing a year or two later,” Parrish said. “A lot of my friends have been kind of honest and upfront, like, ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing.’”

Even though Parrish didn’t move back home herself, she can see why others choose that route, she said.

“A lot of people think it’s a failure, but with perspective now, it’s pretty smart to move home for a while and save money,” Parrish said. “I know even some of my coworkers now live at home because they just happen to be from the [San Francisco] Bay Area, so I think it has its advantages.”

Money saved by moving home

Christine Tsoi graduated from Cal Poly in 2016 and now works full-time in San Francisco. Her auditing job at DZH Phillips has her waking up at 6 a.m. and back in bed by 9 p.m. every day. However, there is one key difference between her and Parrish – Tsoi rides BART to and from Walnut Creek, everyday, where her mom picks her up. Tsoi lives at home with her parents and older brother.

She sees nothing wrong with moving home after graduation.

“I think it’s becoming more popular because rent is so expensive, especially in the Bay Area,” Tsoi said. “Pretty much all of my coworkers I started with live at home because it’s so expensive.”

Tsoi is able to save more from her paycheck with no rent to pay, but she had to get used to following her parents’ rules again, she said.

“It was a big adjustment because I can’t just leave the house after 10 p.m. anymore. It’s definitely weird having to tell someone where you are and if you’re out, sending the courtesy text,” Tsoi said. “Your parents have total control of everything, so it’s definitely different from living on your own.”

Tsoi plans on living at home for one more year before moving out. She has already bought a new Honda HRV with her savings and hopes to move closer to her job in San Francisco by 2018.

Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts interim Career Counselor Travis Raynaud counsels seniors to help them decide what path is right for them and alleviate post-graduation stress.

“There can for sure be an internal pressure placed upon people that they’re going to feel like they have not made the most of their degree if they’re not immediately in a career in a new town,” Raynaud said. “For me, it’s not so much about location and where you are – it’s maximizing what you’re doing in the place.”

Going pro in Portland

Some students decide to take a leap of faith and move to a new city before securing a full-time job. Cody Kautz was one of them.

Cal Poly 2016 art and design graduate Kautz concentrated in graphic design and decided to move to Portland to search for a job where the industry was booming, he said.

“Getting your foot in the door is kind of hard when you move to a new city,” Kautz said. “Most companies wouldn’t even talk to me until I moved here. After a while, I kind of realized that they weren’t even going to take me seriously as an applicant without being here in the city, so I just decided it was time to move here.”

After a month in Portland, Oregon Kautz received a response from a Craigslist ad for a job to which he had applied during his last month at Cal Poly.

Now, he works for the small design agency whose main client is GoPro, the action camera company based in California.
“Just out of the blue, I got an offer to come in and interview and then was working for GoPro the next week, which was pretty cool,” Kautz said.

Kautz may have gotten lucky finding a job so quickly, but he knows how hard it is to get hired and understands the pressure to succeed, he said.

“I totally think there is a pressure. You see people getting cool jobs or doing cool projects on Instagram or Facebook and it’s pretty easy to feel like you’re not doing as well as other people,” Kautz said. “There’s definitely a pressure to go out there and find the coolest job you can and be successful right away, which probably isn’t very realistic for most people just out of school.”

If Kautz ever thought there was a stigma about moving back home, he sees it as an asset now, he said.

“I think it used to be kind of weird to move back with your parents, but it’s super common now,” Kautz said. “I don’t think kids our age are making enough money to move out on their own, especially not in a big city these days.”

Looking back, Kautz said he wouldn’t change anything. Moving to a new city without a job wasn’t traditional, but it worked in his favor.

“If you want to move to a new city, just do it,” Kautz said. “I think there are a lot of good excuses you can tell yourself on why not to do it. But ultimately, if you move out and fail miserably, you can always come back. Just go out and do it and try new things.”

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