New grads are sticking around
By Jordan Schroeer
Ya. Sure. You betcha! Blizzards and a Coen brothers’ dark comedy are what most people think of when they hear about Fargo, N.D., but one online ranking puts Fargo on the map for reasons besides an accent and murder mystery. The news website “Business Insider” named Fargo the best place for recent college graduates to live and work.
“We have a ton of open jobs,” John Machacek, research and business information manager of the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, said. “On average, we have 6 to 7,000 open jobs listed.”
Businesses in the area have help wanted signs in windows and advertisements in the classifieds, and all they need are willing workers.
“We have way more jobs than people,” Machacek said.
“I’ve got it good here,” Aries Serrano, a 21-year-old student at MSUM said. He filled one of the thousands of open jobs before graduating with his college degree.
Serrano, originally from Puerto Rico, lived up and down the eastern seaboard in Massachusetts and Florida, eventually moving to Moorhead to attend MSUM for broadcast journalism.
“I was told there was a great broadcast journalism program,” Serrano said.
His move to the Midwest paid off as he secured a full time job working as a reporter at the FOX affiliate in Fargo before walking across the stage at graduation.
“They’re looking for new graduates,” Bobbi Delaney, career exploration coordinator at MSUM said of local businesses. “They want folks who have the energy and ability to get started.” According to Delaney, MSUM continually works with employers to find opportunities in the community.
“I was contacted by the Youth for Christ director the Monday before graduation,” Katherine Beneby II, a 22-year-old former Dragon said.
Beneby graduated from MSUM in May 2014 and was asked to take a job just days before putting on her cap and gown.
The director at Red River Youth for Christ offered Beneby a job as the special projects coordinator, even though Beneby never even applied. “I thought about it and prayed about it.”
Not knowing if she wanted to return home to the Bahamas or brave another winter in the Red River Valley, Beneby got clearance from the government to stay in America and decided take the job, living her life “open and outside of the box.”
The success of finding a job in the Fargo-Moorhead area is not limited to those at MSUM. Joe Anderson, a 22-year-old recent graduate from Concordia College remembers looking to start a career.
“It wasn’t difficult finding a job,” Anderson said. “I felt like there were quite a few options.”
Anderson came to the Fargo-Moorhead area four years ago from Oregon to get his degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in Spanish from Concordia, graduating in May 2014.
“Back in Oregon, job searching was such a pain,” Anderson said. “It’s so hard to find a job there.”
He then decided to see what Fargo-Moorhead had to offer.
“I didn’t know what I was doing,” Anderson said of his life after graduation. “But then I found a job in Fargo I love.”
He turned down two other job offers to become a leasing specialist at an apartment complex in south Fargo and then “decided to start a business on the side as well.”
His small business, Snack Social, does social media management and consultation for other small businesses in the area.
“It’s a lot easier place to get a business started,” Anderson said. “I felt like there were a lot of opportunities in the area.”
Machacek agreed that the opprotunities in the area are constantly growing.
“Things have really blossomed here,” Machacek said. “There’s just an energy down here.”
It’s an energy he credits to the diverse economy and nearly 30,000 college students in the area.
“You add in all those college students, school systems and you add thriving businesses, create a bunch of jobs, and you just set yourself up,” he said.
Evaluating their decisions, Serrano, Beneby and Anderson are all glad they were able to find jobs in the Fargo-Moorhead area, even if the weather in the region isn’t comparable to other cities on the list.
“Oh another winter, you can never get used to them,” Beneby said. Quickly adding, “I would not change a thing.”
While the temperatures are warmer at other cities on the website’s list such as Austin, Texas or Washington, D.C., Machacek has an idea why Fargo received the top spot.
“If you need a job, you want to be around good people, you want to be safe in a low crime rate community, a vibrant community, you should give it a shot.”
While some recent college graduates are far from mom and dad, they all find the area to be a great place to live and work.
“You can’t find nicer people than in the Fargo-Moorhead community,” Serrano said.
While Anderson originally stayed in the area because he was offered multiple jobs, the business climate is not the only reason he calls Fargo home.
“It feels like there is a general sense of community,” Anderson said. “I love it here. I love the community. I love all the things to do in Fargo.”