How to move to the West Coast
February 8, 2011 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Moving to the Bay Area… How can a recent college grad find a job on the West Coast when they live in the East Coast?

I'm finishing my degree in Electrical Engineering in May and I'm now looking for a job. I'm constantly thinking about moving to the Bay Area and starting my career there, but I have no idea how to make this happen. I've been looking for jobs and have had a few interviews already, but they were all local (I'm in MA), and I didn't get any offers. How can I get a job all the way on the other side of the country?

Here's the catch though: I'm not a US citizen. I'm a student on a F1 student visa, which makes finding a job harder, and limits my legal time to stay in the US after graduation. Once I've graduated I can stay here for about 120 days legally without having a job. So if I don't find a job by graduation, I only have 4 months to find a job before needing to leave the US.

Also, I don't really have any money. If I was a US citizen I'd just move to the Bay Area and look for a job there, maybe while I was working some sort of temp job, etc. I don't know. But I don't really think I could do this due to the fact that I'm broke, and also due to the fact that I'm not legally allowed to work temporary jobs.

I'm obsessing about moving to the Bay Area and it's hindering me from being able to focus on school - it's completely stressing me out. I need someone to either give me advice on how I can do this and accomplish my goal, or tell me that I need to focus all of my energy on finding a job in MA or somewhere around here, and then figure the whole Bay Area sometime later in the distant future.

So, is my dream possible? Can I possibly move to the Bay Area? Can I find a job there while I'm here in MA?
posted by carmel to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I found a job in the Bay Area from New England. I put in the first sentence of my cover letter that I was moving to the Bay Area in the month I was hoping to move there so that they wouldn't think I was hoping to get them to pay to move me out there. I was interviewed via Skype and got a job. Hooray.
posted by brainmouse at 7:03 PM on February 8, 2011

Your school must have career fairs, so attend them.

Don't obsess about moving to the bay area - as an EE, the bay will pull you in eventually. It might be worth your time to spend a little bit of time out east (and building up experience) before you move to the bay.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:05 PM on February 8, 2011

We're not going anywhere, jokes about California sliding into the ocean notwithstanding. I promise.

Focus on school - get fantastic grades, network your ass off, and apply for jobs that look like they'd be a good fit, wherever in the US they happen to be. Maybe you'll find one in the Bay Area right away, but don't panic if you end up staying in MA for a while. It's a nice place. There're a ton of former Bostonians in San Francisco, and we all speak fondly of home and we go to baseball games.

But. If you really really can't stand the thought of not moving here after graduation, get fantastic grades and network your ass off. Talk to your profs, TAs, alumni of your program who may be working out here or know someone who does. It isn't necessarily easy to get a job in a place you don't live yet, but it is doable.
posted by rtha at 8:03 PM on February 8, 2011

some of the big bay area tech companies hire college student summer interns; this is a natural conduit to a job offer. Make a list of companies you'd be interested in working for and research their internship processes.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:07 PM on February 8, 2011

possibly look for companies in your area that have hubs/spokes in the BA, or the other way around. that way you can meet you local branch and get in there and share with them your desire to go west, if you're a good person they will help.

I grew up in Berkeley and now live in the MidWest but have gotten offers to come back because 1) I'm from there so they know i'm in for the long haul and understand the area, and 2) I have talked to companies with spokes here.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:55 AM on February 9, 2011

nthing "Go to career fairs," "network your ass off," "the Bay Area will pull you in eventually," etc.

If you have any way of borrowing some money (maybe your school has short-term loans available), use it to fly to the Bay Area during spring break. You can stay in a hostel for fairly cheap, although transit will be a little time-consuming. Set up informational interviews at places you're interested in, for most or all of the days you're there, and hit tech meetups as well. The market's hot enough right now that if you show that kind of initiative it'll pay off pretty well.
posted by brainwane at 7:10 AM on February 9, 2011

Can you program? If so, there's a thousand Bay Area companies that want to interview you. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, etc, etc, etc are all hiring people who can write code. Every company has a job listing page and an email address for recruiting. Start sending them resumes. On those resumes, emphasize any coursework you did for sofwtare engineering and any practical experience you've had (summer jobs, internships, open source contributions, etc).
posted by Nelson at 7:56 AM on February 9, 2011

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