As a recent college graduate myself — OK, so as of a year ago — I can say from personal experience that starting a career straight out of school is no easy task. Did I know what I wanted to do after graduation? Absolutely not. But I knew I didn't want to retreat back to the nest.
So coming off the high of graduation, with all my hopes and dreams in sight ... I did just that.
Moving back in with my parents, in Colorado Springs, just made sense: free rent, good food, time to figure out my life. About four months, one internship and one part-time retail job later, I stumbled into working with kids who have developmental disabilities. To get a full-time job in the field, it took that whole year.
Colorado Springs leaders have made much noise over keeping young college grads in this city, which sounds great. But unless your parents live here, how likely is that, actually? And how desirable is it to be here, anyway?
Here are five of us "young professionals" with thoughts on such questions.
Public relations major, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Hometown: Colorado Springs
Where have you heard a lot of people your age wanting to live? I think it all depends on what you're used to and where you come from. My friends from smaller towns are trying to get their foot in the door here, but my friends from Denver want to live up there.
What could make the Springs better? Making transportation easier and more efficient. As a student, I have to walk to class every day, which takes 20 minutes. The transportation system needs to be made more accountable and reliable than the one we have now.
Do you feel like we're moving in the right direction? If the city and community as a whole embraces the amount of young people that want to come here, then yes. I don't know if I want to live here right after school but I definitely want to come back and raise my kids here. If we want young people to stick around, we need to bridge that gap.
Molecular biology major, Colorado College
Hometown: Hampton, N.H.
What makes Colorado Springs an attractive place to live for young people? The Springs feels a little more displaced [from urban life] and closer to the mountains than Denver or Boulder. I like the access to the Pikes Peak region and I'm also a big fan of the [Pikes Peak Center]. For a lot of CC students, the draw is to the outdoors: hiking, camping and climbing. They're not necessarily invested in the city itself, but the location offers a lot to students in terms of recreation.
Where have you heard a lot of people your age wanting to live? A lot of people I know want to move back to the coast. Personally, I see myself moving away at some point. But my friends and I are pretty focused on what we're doing right now in school, so we don't really discuss what we're going to be doing after.
Describe one thing that could make the Springs better. I'm interested in the sciences, but I'm not sure how large the private research sector is here. And, I know that CC has a lot of students interested in pursuing science-related fields. But I'm not sure the Springs really accommodates that career path.
Communications grad (December 2013), University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Hometown: Colorado Springs
Where have you heard a lot of people your age wanting to live? Many people my age are on the hunt for jobs in Washington, California, Oregon and Florida. They're looking for more job security but also the same easygoing, outdoorsy lifestyle that the Springs offers.
What's an important thing that this city has going for it that other places don't? Community. Having been directly affected by the Waldo Canyon Fire, it was amazing to see how a community can and will come together to help out those around them.
Describe one thing that could make it better. More job security as well as more variety of career opportunities. The great part about Colorado Springs is the large, young population eager to work for nonprofit organizations, work hands-on jobs, and explore ideas to make the community thrive.
Do you feel like we're moving in the right direction? Yes. Being an [alumnus] of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, it would be nice to see that particular university become more of a youthful college. Establishing a football team for UCCS would help Colorado Springs become even more of a close-knit city. Combine that with innovative job opportunities that are impacting the community, and young people may choose to stay.
Criminal justice and pre-law major, Pikes Peak Community College
Hometown: Colorado Springs
Where have you heard a lot of people your age wanting to live? The majority of people I know are moving around right now as they transition out of the military. They are generally looking for somewhere with a low cost of living, good educational and employment opportunities, and a safe environment to raise families. This ranges from the Pacific Northwest to Ohio, but several friends have recently relocated to Colorado.
What's an important thing that this city has going for it that other places don't? The thing that makes Colorado Springs truly stand out to me is its culture of acceptance. It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from. If you're a decent person, there's a place for you in the Springs.
Describe one thing that could make it better. More breweries.
Describe your own plans. I'm beginning college to study criminal justice and pre-law. I've seen a good bit of the country and world, but the Springs stands above everywhere else I've been. I firmly intend to stick around for the next decade or so.
Biochemistry grad (May 2014), Colorado College
Hometown: Birmingham, England
Where have you heard a lot of people your age wanting to live? If they can find a job, they want to move to Boulder or Denver. A lot of people I know from the East Coast have tried to stay but couldn't find jobs here. That's the hardest part, if you don't have a place to stay while you're looking for jobs. ... If you go home, you can stay with your parents until you find one.
What's an important thing that this city has going for it that other places don't? It's not too crowded or too overwhelming. There are small places you can go to and make friends with the locals. You get to know people and then they let you know about these things that are going on.
Describe one thing that could make it better. More of a nightlife and better clubbing would be nice for the younger generations. I also wish CC would be more involved in the community because I feel like there's a disconnect. Personally, being more involved in the Springs has made my experience a lot better.
How is the Springs different from where you're from? Everyone is much more willing to talk to you. In England, they're less friendly and less open with people they don't know. People here seem to be more spontaneous, too.
Describe your own plans. I want to take a couple of years to work, make some money and save up, but I want to go to med school eventually. I've been looking for lab technician and research jobs in the Springs, Centennial, Denver and Boulder. I would like to stay in Colorado if I can.