Happy young professionals reside in SD

by David Hernandez

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San Diego has been ranked No. 5 as the happiest city in the U.S. for young professionals to enter the work force, according to data released by CareerBliss.

“Through our research, we found that a positive company culture, which focuses on overall happiness and not just compensation, is key for young professionals,” co-founder of CareerBliss Heidi Golledge said. “We have cities ranking higher, even though some are paying less because they offer a happier life for employees who choose to live and work there.”

A graduate student survey conducted by San Diego State Career Services for May/August 2012 revealed that the mean reported salary for bachelor’s degrees was $41,215. From those who completed the survey, nearly 75 percent said they would be residing in San Diego, and 45 percent said they would be employed full-time after graduation.

SDSU Career Services Director James Tarbox believes that in a struggling economy, students don’t typically consider job satisfaction when searching for work.

However, students are again beginning to have the opportunity to consider their happiness with respect to their profession. With more prosperous companies, young professionals receive multiple offers, which allow them to ask

themselves whether they are going to be happy with a certain job and consider it before accepting an offer, Tarbox said.

“I see more of that dialogue coming up that I hadn’t seen in about two years,” Tarbox said.

Among the many factors young professionals find important, Tarbox believes employer benefits are among the most important.

“For a long time in (SDSU) Career Services, students didn’t ask about benefits and employers glossed over them and now I see them talking more about them,” Tarbox said. “If you have something that you can get from the employer, that’s important.”

Tarbox also believes that students value meaningful work.

“For me, meaningful work would be something where they can make a difference, or apply what they’ve learned, or see the results of what they’re doing,” Tarbox added. “They’re not cut off in a cubicle, they’re part of a community, they’re making a difference in their community.”

In the CareerBliss survey, young professionals “were asked to rate 10 key factors that affect workplace happiness including, work-life balance, compensation, company culture, overall work environment, company reputation, relationships with managers and co-workers, opportunities for growth, job resources, daily tasks and job autonomy. The key factors were rated on a 5-point scale.”

With the 5-point scale, employees could determine which factor was most imporant for their overall happiness at work. After the average rating was configured, the survey was then sorted by location to find where the employees resided.

“It is vital for employers and young professionals to understand what factors impact their happiness so the young professionals can feel empowered and know where to take their next career step,” Golledge said.

Tarbox also believes that young professionals’ happiness is important not only for the individual, but for the employers as well.

“One of the biggest challenges for anyone is to lose a job or to try to find a job, so people want to be satisfied with what they’re doing and want to be happy with going to work,” Tarbox said. “From the employer’s perspective, when they hire someone, they’re making an investment in that person and they want that person to stay on.”

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