I just finished reading a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education about recruiting. They suggest that even in a tight labor market that the person recruiting also ask themselves whether they can live in the city in which the job is located. I understand what they are trying to say particularly in this situation, where it would turn out that there was a vast gulf between the candidate and the setting.
It reminded me of my first recruit. I went further than this applicant did. All the way to Australia, and to an interview for a position that I would be offered and decline. I joined Bell Labs instead and moved to Naperville Illinois. Even though it was 6500 miles closer, it was a choice I made based on career not location. Although I did learn to love Naperville, thanks to the friends I made there, and I think I would have learned to love that part of Australia too.
Immediately after graduate school I found it impossible to optimize for both career and location. Based on that I optimized for career. I am curious how many people got both immediately? I think that the first few years post-graduate school are the time when a career is really defined. I am sure that I was a risk for Bell Labs, I had a Ph.D. but that is only a partial training for what comes next whether it be industrial or academic. Four years later I recruited again, and I was able to secure a position that combined career and location. I believe that it was due to my being able to establish my career that I found it easier.
So, while I understand where the author is coming from, I think it’s important to consider the possibility that it may be a trade-off. And of course, also the possibility that the first place you end-up post graduate school is not the place that you will ultimately end-up in. You can always recruit again. I’ve done that three times, and while I may be unusual by comparison with other colleagues, I think that there are significant rewards that come with having multiple employment experiences. I can compare industrial research labs, and compare that experience with academia. And then there are all the amazing colleagues I’ve been able to work with as a result of being in so many different places, and all the access and exposure to different fields within Computer Science.