There’s nothing more exhilarating than walking off the stage, diploma in hand, straight into your brand new future. On the flip side, few things are more terrifying than waking up the morning after graduation with no clear plan of what you’re going to do, where you’re going to live or how you’re going to pay for it. What if everything falls to pieces and you’re forced to crawl back home to your parents’ house?
While graduates across the country experience these fears, few grasp the kind of financial and practical concerns that New Yorkers face. For starters, the median Manhattan rental apartment went for $3,195 a month in March 2013, according to the Elliman report, while the overall Manhattan vacancy rate hovered at 1.46 percent. These rather sobering cost of living numbers drive many young New Yorkers to stuff four roommates into a one-bedroom or decamp to the outer boroughs, though rent there is often not much cheaper.
All is not lost. Despite a current New York unemployment rate of 8.4 percent, there are jobs out there, even for the young and relatively inexperienced, and some of them even pay a New York City-appropriate salary. Whether we’re talking paychecks, perks or potential, here are some of the best fields for new grads to explore.
There are many different kinds of engineering, and software engineering is one of the more lucrative. If a sizeable paycheck and great perks are what you’re after, then you should set your sights on the mac daddy of the industry, Google, which has a sprawling office in Chelsea and offers the much envied perk of free meals. According to a 2012 study from online career community Glassdoor (glassdoor.com), software engineers at Google earn an average yearly salary base of $128,336, which is $35,668 more than software engineers’ U.S. average of $92,648. You’ll need to come armed with a degree from a prestigious college and have some innovative thinking under your belt to land a job at Google, but a salary at a lesser firm in the $90K-range isn’t bad either. If all else fails, there’s always an internship at a reputable technology company. Food for thought: a recent study by Glassdoor found Google number one with interns, too.
You know that $35,000 salary difference between the average engineer and that of someone working at Google? Well, that’s about your total starting income if you get a job working in the glamorous world of TV production. Caissie St.Onge, comedy writer and co-executive producer of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live,” warns new grads that “the glamour level of your basic entry-level TV production job is zero. You won’t be hanging out with celebrities; what you will be doing is photocopying, running errands, sometimes getting coffee, fetching lunch, tidying.” However, she says to take every task, no matter how seemingly unimportant, seriously if you want to make it big. “How well you do those things will probably determine which cooler things you might get to do in the future.” Oh, and if the pay isn’t high, the opportunity is. According to a report pulled together by HR&A Advisors for the Motion Picture Association of America, jobs in the New York state film and television industry grew by nearly 25 percent from 2008 to 2011, even while private sector employment was down 1.6 percent.
Marketing research analyst
CNN Money dubbed marketing research analyst the seventh best job in America and reported median pay of $63,100 in 2012. Starting out, it’s best to expect something more in the mid-forties. “This is a particularly exciting time to be in the field of market research because we’re just beginning to learn about how the brain works and how that impacts branding and purchase decisions,” says marketing/branding expert Leslie Zane, who runs the Center for Emotional Marketing in Westchester County. As for what she’s looking for in a new hire, she says that “the best market research people I’ve met over the years tend to have good intuition, are detailed oriented and aren’t satisfied with superficial answers. They’re always trying to dig deeper and understand the ‘whys’ behind a particular research result.” Sounds like a liberal arts major’s lifeline.
It should come as no surprise that the financial sector is a lucrative place to work. According to Glassdoor, which surveys both companies and workers, the average salary for business analysts with a year or less of experience can be as high as $76,499 if you’re working at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Other institutions pay lower but still respectable salaries, with Morgan Stanley averaging $70,335 and Goldman Sachs $63,653. According to the Glassdoor’s community manager Scott Dobroski, the way to land one of these jobs is to start with an internship. “Summer is an ultra-competitive times for internships,” he says. “An intern may find more meaningful assignments if they apply for fall and spring.” And unlike many industries, these are paid, with companies such as Chase ponying up about $4,000 a month.
Supporting Fields in Technology
Yes, computer engineering falls under the technology umbrella, but the Glassdoor’s Dobrowski cites the entire field of technology as one of the ones doing most of the hiring right now. That doesn’t mean you need an advance degree in computer science, however, to take advantage of the boom. “While yes, tech industries need web developers to launch their products, but for the world to know about it, they need marketing and communications people. To build a company, they need HR professionals. To bring in money, they need billing people with accounting majors,” he says. So if you want to attach your business skills to a rising industry, technology is a safe bet.