Saturday, December 05, 2009

Rust Belt Job Hunting

Christine Borne contacted me via email and asked me a few questions about my boomerang migrant incubator idea. She comments on yesterday's blog post and you can get the gist of her line inquiry. Not every boomerang migrant is or wants to be an entrepreneur or a freelancer.

The bottom line is that Big City is likely the best place for conventional job seekers. Ms. Borne bristles at the prospect:

There is a odd and ruthless undercurrent at work here. One that says, if you're not willing to leave your home and family in the pursuit of cold hard cash, you're being sentimental and backwards, a drain on society. There's an expectation in America that if you're not willing to relocate to look for work, there's something wrong with you. Maybe I'm just being sensitive, but I feel like the Rust Belt is hit the hardest by this idea, because more so than any other region, we were defined not by our character or our land, but by our industry. By our jobs.

The move to improve is a great economic strategy, but there is more to life than income. I'm not sure what the answer is for those who cannot or are unwilling to create their own job. I'm inclined to think that most of us have to choose between place and career. The relationship between the two variables is a zero-sum game. In a sense, living where you want to live is an entrepreneurial act. You find a way to make it work.

Not to be all doom and gloom this morning, there might be another way. I suggested to Ms. Borne that boomerang migrants could be better networked. Talking with people who share your pain or predicament is a good approach to a creative solution. Imagine a Cleveland Boomerang Club. Someone who wants to move back could contact this group full of members who have the same vision for their hometown. They are motivated to grow their ranks and help another return. In essence, they build the city they most desire. My boomerang pioneers, the entrepreneurs, will need talent to grow the business. But the position will likely still require a career leap. There is still a compromise to make.

1 comment:

Christine Borne said...

Thanks for taking so much time to think about and answer this difficult question for me. It means a lot, and I really appreciate it.

I don't know that I am really bristling at the prospect of moving to/staying in a bigger and more diverse economy, but obviously I *am* beginning to wonder if I jumped the gun. If I should have waited a few more years, until things got better, or I found a specific job opportunity, or (perhaps) the urge to return disappeared. To be honest, although I do miss the income and stability of having a job, I am extremely frugal and in decent-enough financial shape to keep waiting things out for a little while here.

The bottom line is: I think you're giving me a good, solid answer to a question I wasn't willing to ask myself two years ago, and frankly I'm glad it's now in the open where other would-be boomerang migrants might find it.