On Being a Different Sized Fish in Different Sized Ponds -- Where should I live after graduation?

in #moving3 years ago (edited)

Most of the subject matter in @phillyhistory's course has been based around Philadelphia.

That makes sense. I go to school in Philadelphia, a large city full of examples for learning about the cultural sector.

Most of our lessons have been unsettling

In this large city full of examples for learning about the cultural sector, there don't seem to be many job opportunities. Our readings have painted a picture of a struggling collection of institutions that face perpetual underfunding and a related inability to catch up with technological advances.

Yet, despite the overall negative outlook, in one of our early class meetings, we looked at this rosy graphic produced by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance of the number of full-time equivalent cultural jobs in various metropolitan centers.

While Philly is in 2nd place, it just so happens that another one of the areas in this graphic is where I'm considering moving after my time in Philadelphia: St. Petersburg, Florida.

The very cool Salvador Dali Museum in St. Pete, courtesy of Scoutology. Maybe they'll hire me!

I lived in Florida from age 6 through college. Most of my early experiences in cultural instutitions as a volunteer, intern, or contracted employee took place there. While I've been in Philadelphia for less than a year, in terms of opportunities, the two places feel profoundly different.

So, I'm starting to feel like I'll be better off starting my career in 7th place St. Pete instead of 2nd place Philadelphia. Why is that?

1. There is an obvious difference in size

In 2016, St. Petersburg's total city population was 263,768, while Philadelphia's was over 1.5 million.

In the metaphor of cities as ponds, Philadelphia is a decidedly big pond. In it, I feel like a pretty small fish. Sure, more people may mean more opportunities, but as our readings have shown, it also means more competition for jobs and funding.

I think that I may have more opportunities in St. Petersburg because I am a much bigger fish in that much smaller pond, but I think there's more going on than just differences in size.

2. There's a difference in median age

According to this graphic published by the city's official website, St. Petersburg's median age in 2017 was 42.4 years old.

In 2016, the Pew Charitable Trust noted that Philadelphia's median age dropped 35.3 years in 2005 to 33.8 in 2014.

That almost 10-year difference is notable. I seem much younger in St. Pete than I do in Philly, which can be a good thing for a getting a job.

Bottom line: I think that my youth is more attractive and employable in St. Pete than it is in Philadelphia

Whether or not my youth actually means I'm more adept at technology or keen to what's cool/marketable, I feel like in St. Pete, there's a perception that that's the case.

In order to survive, cultural sectors all over the country need to adapt to new technologies. Whether it be through platforms like Steemit or something as simple as establishing a Twitter account, I think that my youth and related adeptness with technology is rarer and thus perceived as more valuable in St. Petersburg. Though there may be fewer opportunities in that smaller pond, there will be fewer young people with the same skills and education as me vying for them.

What do you think? Should I stay in the big city, or am I right to want to be a big fish in a smaller pond?

100% of the SBD rewards from this #explore1918 post will support the Philadelphia History initiative @phillyhistory. This crypto-experiment is part of a graduate course at Temple University's Center for Public History and is exploring history and empowering education to endow meaning. To learn more click here.


Would love to have you stay in Philly, @jfeagan, but I think you make some convincing points. It seems like one more checkmark in the pro-St. Pete column is that I suspect there may be fewer public history students and museum studies folks being produced in the greater metro area than here in Philly? Could mean less competition.

On the other hand, I could see a high median age as negative, a sign that cultural organizations in the St. Pete region might be reluctant to change in order to appeal to younger audiences? It's hard for me to grasp what ten years of difference in median age really looks like though!

Anyway, we will cheer you on whether you stay or go!

A bunch of great points, Ted! You're definitely right that there are fewer public history students. But you're also right that an older population may come with some negatives. It may be harder getting older populations to change technologies and confront challenging narratives that I'd want to highlight.

I think it is probably best to go wherever you can get a job first. Work to gain experience and then choose where you want to live once you've built up your resume.

With that said, St. Pete is clearly the best because of its proximity to Manatees, the most important animal in the world.

That's true! Perhaps I should look at jobs with aquatic organizations. St. Pete is definitely the winner in that department.

Interesting! Go to this post and scroll down to “Most of our lessons have been unsettling."

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