June 11, 2011 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out what to do with my life!

I will try to keep this as concise as possible.

On Tuesday I will be graduating with my M.A. in Public Issues Anthropology. Yay me! Except, there are no job opportunities in the field I would like to work in where I live. My partner and I have been vaguely planning to move somewhere new, but now we would like to make some concrete plans.

About me:

I did research for my MA thesis with a small community organization run by and for a particular refugee population in the GTA. I would like to continue in the field of community-based research and/or refugee studies and/or working with refugee and immigrant populations to help them become integrated and adjust to their new life in Canada. This requires a city with a large and diverse population, which my current city does not have.

About my partner:

He is a software developer, and knows a pretty broad range of... software developer stuff. Basically, he wouldn't have trouble finding a job if there were a reasonable software-related industry in this to-be-determined city.

About our lifestyle:

We're both homebodies. We love farmers markets. We are certified crazy cat people (not that we have 100 cats, but we consider our two cats to be our 'babies'). We live in Guelph, ON which is a small city and manages to have a 'community' feel while providing many of the good parts of big city life (decent public transit, some good restaurants etc.), and these are the reasons we like it. It's just that there are no employment opportunities and, honestly, we would like a change.

We were originally thinking of moving to Ottawa, and that still seems like our best bet, but I don't speak French. It is very hard to learn a language as an adult, and I stopped taking French after grade 9. There is no way for me to be immersed in the language enough to get much beyond very basic conversational skills. That's not to say I'm not willing to try, but I'm not sure how necessary it is to be bilingual in order to find gainful employment in Ottawa. This is where you come in!


How important is it that one be bilingual in order to get the kind of job I would like in Ottawa (a job in research or community support/outreach)? Or really any office-like job, should it prove impossible to find something in my chosen area?

If Ottawa is not the best choice, can you suggest somewhere else, which would also have software jobs?

Oh! Before anyone suggests Toronto, we've thought of that. My partner kind of hates Toronto and would only move there as an absolute last resort.
posted by torisaur to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You're in luck: there IS one large yet walkable, well-served by transit, generally Anglophone, diverse (25% immigrant), progressive, affordable and beautiful Ontario city within easy car commuting of the Kitchener-Waterloo and Niagara Regions and with all-day, twice-hourly GO service to Toronto for commuting/weekend visiting purposes.

It is called Hamilton, Ontario.

Take a look at Raise the Hammer blog if the image that comes to mind when you think of Hamilton is Stelco smokestacks and dirty beaches.
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:28 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ah, link-checking fail. Raise the Hammer.
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:30 PM on June 11, 2011

It sounds like you are thinking of moving somewhere and THEN looking for work. If that is the case, what will you do if you don't find something in your new city? It seems to me it would be a better plan for you and your partner to make a long list of cities you'd consider and start looking for job openings in all of them. You'll have to travel for interviews, but many employers will cover those costs, and some will do skype instead. Then move once you already have something lined up.
posted by lollusc at 6:56 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Waterloo would seem to be a good choice.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:19 PM on June 11, 2011

Can I ask why your partner hates Toronto?

Is it the geography you hate? The climate? The weather? Those seem unlikely since you live just down the road. It's not that you dislike urban life; you're thinking of moving to Ottawa, a big city.

What, then, could it be?
posted by bexpert at 8:09 PM on June 11, 2011

How important is it that one be bilingual in order to get the kind of job I would like in Ottawa (a job in research or community support/outreach)? Or really any office-like job, should it prove impossible to find something in my chosen area?

From what I've been told from my Ottawa friends and family, public service jobs will be out. My brother works a nonprofit office job and my sister-in-law is a RN. Neither are bilingual. My brother started out doing temp work when he moved up there five years ago and found a permanent position with one of the organizations he temped for. I also had this conversation with a friend the last time I was up there. She told me there was absolutely no way she would have gotten her current job (nonprofit communications director) unless she was bilingual. So it's not impossible to find a job in Ottawa without speaking French, but you will definitely be at a disadvantage.

Take that as you will from somebody who doesn't live there and is only writing this answer based on the experiences of others.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:57 PM on June 11, 2011

You could easily live in a Toronto bedroom community - live in a town you find comfortable, and work in toronto. OH WAIT - you already do! Half my (downtown toronto) office commutes in on the GO train from places like guelph and hamilton and barrie. You could too.
posted by Kololo at 8:15 AM on June 12, 2011

Kitchener-Waterloo seems like an ideal choice for you. There are a handful of community-based research and human services organizations in town*, and your partner will have lots of software dev jobs to choose from. If you're lucky, neither of you will need to commute, but if you do, it's doable by GO or Greyhound. (Another MeFite posted a good rundown of K-W here.)

We've got fantastic farmer's markets, and while there is a vibrant young professional-led arts & culture scene developing, it's a community well-suited to homebodies. Also, people who are wary of Toronto seem to gravitate towards K-W for its pace of life; interpret that as you will.

*I've worked for one of them and am at your approximate career stage (and my partner works in your partner's industry) -- feel free to MeFi Mail me if you're interested in what the industry's like here.
posted by thisjax at 11:59 PM on June 12, 2011

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