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With the rise of blended work, new grads are finding flexibility and tough choices

As a native of Maine attending college in Boston, I had assumed for years that I would stay put after graduation. I had fallen in love with the city which, despite all its excitement, still had the New England vibe that made me feel at home.

But as I navigated the beginning, the impending decision on where to live and work became more complex. Other cities, like New York, piqued my curiosity. On the other hand, the rise of remote work options makes it possible, in some cases, to bypass urban hubs for quieter places. Maybe I could escape from my home in rural Maine, I was wondering. In April, I landed a remote job, leaving me with endless possibilities — and tough choices.

I am far from the only one to weigh such decisions. On Handshake, a career network that more than 1,400 US and UK educational institutions offer students, “remote” was the most searched keyword by student job seekers last year, according to Christine Cruzvergara, director of the company’s educational strategy. “This generation kind of wants the best of both worlds. They want flexibility, they want to be able to work from home or work from wherever they want to live,” she says, “but they also want the ability to get together with co-workers, to be social, to have this connection and this community too.

The desire for increased flexibility comes in the context of strong demand for university graduates on the job market. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies plan to hire nearly a third more graduates from the class of 2022 than from the previous class. This year, employers also expect 42% of their entry-level positions to be entirely in-person, with 40% hybrid and 18% remote.

Sam Lambrecht, who is finishing his bachelor’s degree in engineering at Northeastern University, decided to stay in the Boston area after accepting a hybrid position as a software developer at Keurig Dr. Pepper in Burlington. “The norm right now is Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday in the office; Monday and Friday remotely,” says Lambrecht. “But it’s flexible enough that if you have something to do one of these days, they don’t mind [you] work abroad. »

Matthew Bidwell, an associate professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania who studies employment, says this kind of flexibility is sweeping workplaces. “A lot [of employers] returned to two or three days a week in the office. That means [the] the commute is a bit less of a constraint on what people do and where they want to live,” he says. “There’s a lot of people saying, ‘I want to sit down in Maine in the woods and work from there. “”

But many young graduates also see advantages in staying near a city. Lambrecht, for example, sought apartments in Cambridge and Somerville, so he could stay a short drive from his job in Burlington while still easily commuting to Boston. “I wanted to stay here, especially since the friends I have from school are going to be in the Greater Boston area,” he says.

Devany Pitsas, a global and cultural communications major at Suffolk University, hopes to stay close to Boston to grow her professional network. “There’s an influx of people, and I think that’s probably the most appealing thing in terms of just having more opportunities,” she says. “Yeah, I rooted with friends and so on, but I also made connections with some businesses.”

Handshake’s Cruzvergara notes that since Jan. 1, about one-fifth of applications from Boston-based students on the app were for jobs in the city. “There’s always a lot of interest for students who are in the Boston area to stay in the Boston area after they graduate,” she says. For student job applications nationwide, Boston was the fourth most popular city, behind New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Not everyone decides to stay local, of course. Delaney Dow, a principal engineer at Boston University, recently accepted a position as a software engineer at Epic Systems Corp. in Wisconsin. “I really expected to stay in Boston, honestly,” she says. “So I was a bit surprised when I got this offer and made the decision to move.”

As for this Mainer, I finally decided to stay put and rent an apartment with some friends in Brookline. I realized I wasn’t quite ready to leave my new home and all it has to offer. And while changing workplace norms will hopefully continue to provide more options and flexibility, they have certainly made job hunting more interesting.


Emily Curtis, a recent graduate of Emerson College, is starting a job as a junior marketing associate. This story was produced in conjunction with an Emerson Writing and Editing course. Send your comments to magazine@globe.com.

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