Most people think through if they want to live in the city, but what people forget to think about is the long term impact of living in a particular city.

Suppose you’re graduating college and you get an offer from Google’s Irvine CA office. That’s fantastic. You must be really excited. Great company + great weather. What’s not to love?

But what are you going to do in, say, five years? Odds are good that you’ll want to leave the company, or at least consider leaving. Where do you go?

And there’s the problem – you’re sort of stuck. I’m sure there are other tech companies in the area, but how many? And do you want to join those companies? If you do, will you get an offer?

You may be stuck choosing between three less than great choices:

  • Sticking it out at your current company for some indefinite length of time.
  • Going to a less desirable company than you otherwise would have wanted.
  • Leaving your friends and possible uprooting your family.

This is true for almost every field, but especially so in technology.

Even in Seattle, arguably the #2 tech hub in the US, has limited choices. If you’re a software engineer at Microsoft in Seattle, you have basically three other choices for major tech companies: Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Maybe you’ll get an offer from those companies, maybe you won’t.

The situation gets much worse if you’re not in the bay area, Seattle, or New York. It may still be worth it for personal and other reasons, of course, but that’s a tradeoff only you can make.


Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Gayle Laakmann McDowell is the founder / CEO of CareerCup, and the author of Cracking the Coding Interview, Cracking the PM Interview, and The Google Resume. Gayle has worked as a software engineer for Microsoft, Apple and Google. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Computer Science, and an MBA from the Wharton School. She currently resides in Palo Alto, CA.

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