Omaha Proves Successful for Recent Graduates
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 16:08
Recent University of Nebraska at Omaha graduate Ryan Cook has spent his summer applying his accounting degree. From auditing leases to inputting journal entries into his company’s database, Cook has been mining his degree into gold as an accounting and lease intern at Interpublic Group Shared Services office in Omaha. Cook is applying his degree fully to his current career, and he is just one of the many recent college graduates finding money and success within the Omaha metro area.
This July, MSN.com named Omaha the ninth best place in the nation recent college graduates should pick up and move to in order to start their careers. Just ahead of Minneapolis, Omaha joins the ranks of 10 cities that were chosen due to their appealing cost of living and ability of young graduates being able to find a career.
“I think Omaha made the list because it’s a little big city that’s very family orientated with people who have that Midwestern work ethic and are willing to act with integrity in everything that they do,” Cook said.
The list places Omaha in ninth because the cost of living here is 9 percent lower than the national average. 16.9 percent of the city’s population is between the ages of 20 and 29, further making the city a boomtown for the young and educated.
It also helps that the city has remained fairly recession-proof. Omaha has an unemployment rate of less than 4 percent and has recently seen a 2.9 percent growth in jobs. The list also cites that Omaha’s average rent is fairly cheap, ringing in at $688, and a recent graduate can stand to make a salary of $27,000 per year on average.
“I think Omaha is great for employment because we have a lot of national companies centered here,” said Katie Wessel, advisor in the Academic and Career Development Center. “We have Gallup, Conagra, Union Pacific and the list goes on. Fortune 500 companies are here wanting to employ students and graduates, and of course there are many opportunities outside of those companies.”
At a time when Detroit is making headlines for falling into financial ruin and filing bankruptcy as a city, other cities are prospering around the nation, Omaha among them. Houston topped MSN.com’s list, and Boston and Austin, Texas rounded out the top three.
“Omaha is a great market and our university helps to set our students apart in the job field,” Wessel said. “Our graduates leave here with hands-on experience. At UNO I like to say we offer a degree plus program by pushing students towards internships and organizations. It’s applying what you learn inside the classroom walls to what’s in the real world, and companies take notice of that.”
UNO’s Academic and Career Center is there to help recent graduates tackle finding that first professional job after graduation by offering a variety of services, everything from mock interviews to resume reviews.
Cook, himself, felt that UNO adequately prepared him for his new profession.
“UNO taught me the value of building relationships,” Cook said. “I was fortunate enough to be in a fraternity and build relationships with 93 great guys. I’ve had two employers call me up in the last two months because one of my fraternity brothers referred me to their institution. By building and maintaining those relationships, the job opportunities will always be there.”
Even though Omaha remains a thriving market for recent college graduates, Wessel said those struggling to find a job should still take advantage of the cities many resources that aren’t always offered elsewhere. She advises getting any experience, whether it be volunteering or doing part-time work, in order to eventually be prepared to land that first job in Omaha’s lucrative market.
“We see a lot of employers recruiting at UNO, and I think that’s really important,” Wessel said. “The market is out there for students to really begin applying what they are learning.”