The Collegian
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Students find jobs, stay in Richmond after graduation

Senior Katie Der predicted since she was a freshman that she would leave her hometown of Chester, Va., after graduation and relocate to New York City - until recently, she said.

After spending the past two summers interning in New York, Der said she had decided to consider staying in Richmond more seriously.

"I could be in New York with a $30,000 salary, living in a hole-in-the-wall or stay in Richmond, living in a nice apartment in the Fan with a much higher quality of life," Der said.

Richmond, New York and Washington, D.C., are the three main cities where Richmond graduates start their careers, said Joe Testani, associate director of the Career Development Center. The cost of rent can be a major consideration for graduates since it varies dramatically across the three cities.

According to current listings from Rent.com, the rent in Washington for a studio apartment in Dupont Circle or Downtown starts at $1,050 a month.

In New York, studio apartments in the east 80s block start at $1,350. In the more centrally located Murray Hill neighborhood, studio apartments start at $2,920.

In Richmond, the rent for a studio apartment in the Fan starts at just $663 and rent for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment starts at $1,253.

Kate Hibbard, WC '06, said that because living in Richmond was more affordable, she had more flexibility to find a job after she had graduated.

"I planned to go to D.C. and follow the rest of the pack," said Hibbard, who is a tri-chair of the Richmond Alumni Chapter. "But my two roommates had an apartment in The Fan and the rent was only $400 a month.

"I was able to stay here a few months before I got a job."

BusinessWeek ranked Richmond 25th in its 2010 list of Top Cities for New College Grads, according to a report published July 16.

The ranking considered four criteria for each city that indicate a promising job climate for young professionals: job listings, unemployment rates and the average annual pay and cost of living.

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More students are beginning to realize the opportunities available in the area and how much they enjoy life in Richmond overall, Testani said.

Approximately 20 to 25 percent of University of Richmond students stay in the Richmond area upon graduation, he said.

No one from the CDC or alumni services could confirm whether the number of graduates who stayed in the area had increased in recent years, but Testani said students' local involvement had increased.

More classes engage students with the community, more service opportunities have been made available through the Center for Civic Engagement and increased networking and partnerships with local alumni and businesses expose students to what the city has to offer, Testani said.

"Students want to attend a small university like Richmond because of the individualized attention they receive - this could motivate people to stay in the city," he said. "Places that emulate what they've gotten used to the last four years are good.

"Because it's smaller, they won't get lost in the shuffle."

Richmond companies and organizations are investing in initiatives to keep young talent in the area. Programs like YRichmond from the Creative Change Center (C3), Helping Young Professionals Engage (HYPE) and Mentor Richmond seek to engage Richmond's younger demographic in a professional capacity through internships and networking events, as well as through cultural and entertainment events.

Richmond is the home of several nationally-renowned brands and organizations, such as Capital One, Altria, The Martin Agency, Genworth Financial, BB&T and Dominion Resources.

Many of these companies recruit from universities such as the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, Randolph-Macon College and Richmond.

The Greater Richmond Alumni Chapter, which is the largest alumni chapter with more than 12,000 members, also serves as a valuable network to students and graduates.

Groundwork Design, a web services company founded by Richmond alumni chapter tri-chair Tom Lawrence, RC '02, recruits interns and employees to work at the Richmond-based company from the University of Richmond often, Lawrence said.

Groundwork Design has employed Richmond alumni and students ranging from the class of 2004 to the class of 2011, Lawrence said.

Richmond's proximity to many universities benefits local companies because of their accessibility for recruitment, Lawrence said.

The city's central location on the East Coast also creates a strange, yet interesting, intersection of geologies and cultures, he said.

Not all Richmond students foresee themselves staying in the area for more than four years, however.

Jimmy Hahn, a Richmond College senior, spent the summer in Richmond doing an internship. Hahn said that come May, he would probably not stay in the area.

"I like Richmond," Hahn said. "But I've been here for four years.

"I feel like it's time start something new, go somewhere new."

Contact staff writer Kristy Burkhardt at kristy.burkhardt@richmond.edu

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