Starting Out: The 10 Most Popular Cities for First-Time Job Seekers

Starting Out: The 10 Most Popular Cities for First-Time Job Seekers

Andrew Strieber

Each spring marks commencement season for a new crop of college students, as seniors wrap up exams and prepare to leave the security of campus. Besides completing their theses and saying goodbye to friends, however, many of these soon-to-be grads are also asking an age-old question about their new lives in the "real world": Where can I find a good job?

With companies around the globe cutting costs and unemployment on the rise, new entrants in the job market face difficult choices when selecting the best location to begin their careers. Should they seek out a small city with a low cost of living and potential for job-market growth, or one with a declining population and less competition among job seekers? Or should they ignore employment trends and simply select a large, dynamic metropolis with an abundance of both rival candidates and new opportunities?

According to a new study by and the employment information provider Going Global, in today's uncertain economy a solid majority of college students are opting for the risks and rewards of choice number three and embracing life in a big city. Surveying college placement offices across the nation about students' ideal destinations to begin their careers, a wide margin named high-population areas with abundant job opportunities, diversity and a vibrant social scene.

So what is the most-popular city among college studentsentering the working world? Despite being the largest and most-expensive urban center in the U.S., New York reigns supreme among first-time job hunters, followed by Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. The Big Apple leads the other cities in the top five by a significant degree, with 83% of those surveyed choosing it among their top destinations, compared to only 65% naming the nation's capital. On the other end of the spectrum, of the 40 metro areas named in our report, the least popular among future job-seekers are Salt Lake City, Utah; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Rochester, New York, with each city being selected by less than 7% of respondents overall.

If you're about graduate and are worried about finding a job in an overcrowded market, moving to a less-popular city may mean your skills are in higher demand. But for those who want to follow their fellow classmates, here are the top 10 cities this spring among college students looking to find a job:

  1. New York, NY
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Los Angeles, CA
  4. Boston, MA
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Chicago, IL
  7. Denver, CO
  8. Seattle, WA
  9. Atlanta, GA
  10. San Diego, CA