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The Big Apple or Music City

Photos courtesy of Tanner Boriack and Oliver Niblett on Unsplash

Published April 10, 2020 at 4:46 p.m.
by Allie Rose.

Choosing where to live after college is not limited to the time period right before graduation. Jobs evolve, careers shift, and ultimately, you change throughout the process. When starting a career in public relations in the United States, a few popular cities may come to mind, such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville and New York City.

Do you want all the seasons? Must you drive your car to work every day? Does the idea of public transportation repulse you? Do you want Southern charm or upfront modern innovation?

Each of the cities above shares one thing: opportunity bursting at the seams. But how can you tell which one is right for you? Both Nashville and New York City have become quite the destination for careers in public relations. Here’s why.

Down on Music Row 

Edgehill. Franklin. Brentwood. 12th South. The Gulch. East Nash. Where to start? Nashville is a bustling, creative place. There are places to get away and retreat, and areas to immerse yourself in the happenings 24/7. “It’s a happy medium between the bigger cities of Atlanta or New York City, while still having Southern roots,” said Savannah Stewart, trade books marketing coordinator for B&H Publishing Group.

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

More than just the “Music City”
It’s not all cowboy boots and honky-tonks. While Nashville may be the prize destination for music-makers and striving creatives, there are more than just those industries at your fingertips. The city is a destination for possibility: Stewart said that part of its excitement and attraction comes from restaurants, shops and breweries popping up on every corner.

The PR scene in Nashville has grown quite a bit in Stewart’s short time there — since her internship during the summer of 2018, which led to a full-time job in 2019. Agencies, such as Reed Public RelationsLovell CommunicationsVarallo and Bradford Group, call Nashville home. Outside of agency life, many companies partner with these agencies or have their own in-house communications teams that have offices in or are headquartered in Nashville. Opportunities lie in publishing houses, nonprofit organizations, big-name businesses and music, with different ranges in agency sizes that can tailor to fit your style or match your goals.

The price tag for Southern charm
Stewart referred to Nashville life as “higher-end but doable.” Depending on how close or far away from the city you want to be, price tags change. She said that budgeting is a must, because nearly every street houses an Instagram-worthy coffee shop or restaurant that will drain your rent money fast.

Photo by Brandon Jean on Unsplash

Each of the suburbs has its own personality, allowing you to assess which one is the right fit. Stewart lives in Edgehill, near Belmont’s campus, and said it is the perfect spot — a 10-minute drive to her downtown office. But, if you live further from the city, you can bet on adding 30 minutes to an hour to your daily commute to work.

How can I know Nashville is the right fit for me?
“Spend some time there before permanently relocating yourself. Try temp work or an internship to see if you thrive in the environment,” Stewart advised. You won’t know until you get there if it is the right fit. Additionally, assess if being close to family is important to you. “See if the community around you is the right fit, and make sure the opportunity you seek matches your values,” said Stewart.

Let’s hear it for New York
Manhattan. Queens. Brooklyn. Upper East or Lower East. Soho. Chelsea Park. The thrill never stops in the city that never sleeps. If you want to go to a museum, there are plenty. If you want to watch a show? Check out Broadway. Are you looking for lunch? Grab a street dog from a hot dog cart or try the countless international options that appear on every street.

For Jada Culver, former account executive at Brunswick Group, the bright lights and the big city were home. She said, “It really was like the Frank Sinatra song. I knew if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere.” New York was the place to see what she was capable of. Life in the city meant hard work and commitment to the daily grind.

Best parts of the big city
NYC is an international workplace destination. It is a long-standing business hub where large companies and big names — such as The New York Stock Exchange, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale’s — are headquartered there, and the opportunities for incoming professionals are endless. “The longevity of the city appeals to people because you can bounce around seeking what is best for you without having to move [to other] cities or states,” Culver said.

Photo by Pat Krupa on Unsplash

While NYC can be known for the crazy traffic, catching the subway can get you pretty much everywhere you need to go. “The subway is amazing. I could zone out or read a book or Axios, all while getting myself where I needed to be,” said Culver. “Taxis and Ubers are doable for when you need them, but ultimately it is just about knowing where you need to be and what time of day it is. It can seem daunting at first, but it’s very manageable once you get the hang of it.”

High rise and high dollar
The Manhattan menagerie can be eye-catching, but ask yourself first if you even desire to live in a big city. Culver saw NYC as a place where she could go out to try new things, travel easily and live the life that she envisioned for herself. She asked herself many questions before making the big move: “Can I see myself here long term? What am I trying to accomplish by living there? Am I going to be able to make the community there that I need?”

She also offers the advice of understanding that the cost of living is pricey — but sometimes the price tag can be worth the boundless freedom of a new adventure.

The job that is right for me
When looking for a job, it can be challenging to know which one is the right fit. Many times, the job search comes with trial and error. Since working her first job, Stewart said that one of the most important things is being a part of a company’s mission that you can get behind. “Whoever you are working for should clearly define their company’s mission, and you should be able to see how your work directly affects that mission,” Stewart said. “Sometimes for me, it’s filing invoices, but I can see that even in those small tasks I am serving my company’s mission.”

Culver said that one of her main non-negotiables is culture. She suggested a tip for interviewing: “See what the interview rounds going forward are going to look like. You want to interview the company as much as they are interviewing you. The culture can seem incredible, but that doesn’t mean they are going to take care of you.”

Both Culver and Stewart highlighted knowing the potential for growth. “I wanted a place that I could grow, learn from others and see where my career could be in the next few years,” said Stewart. They also suggested knowing the company’s willingness to innovate. Culver said, “If you know you want to be somewhere in a certain amount of years, think backward from that point and start there.”

Whether it is Nashville, New York or somewhere in between, give yourself some grace to maybe not get it right on the first try — but making an informed decision can create a seamless transition into the young professional life.

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