Keeping the Young Professional

Posted on November 25, 2014



By: Ashley Dill

The idea of the “young professional” has been an increasingly hot topic in major American cities over the past decade. Cities have been fighting to attract groups of both talented and young college-graduates in order to create not only a larger city population, but to help create a places that people want to live in, both young and old.

This trend spurs from college-graduates not being interested in getting married and starting families right away. There is a new mindset in which college graduates are not only looking for a steady job and income, but they are also searching for an interesting, fun, and vibrant place to live. This environment allows them to make new friends, earn a sufficient amount of money, and participate in social activities until their mid-thirties, a time when they can settle down and “real life” will start.

This new mindset changes the natural progression of life because it creates a new time period in the lives of Americans. This pattern of living fits in right after education and just before starting a family, a time when self-discovery, moving around, and job changes before settling down are promoted habits and lifestyles.

One of the wonderful things about young professionals is that when they make money, they like to spend it. Such individuals are not necessarily focused on saving up for their kids’ college tuition; instead, they are feeding revenue directly back into the cities that they live in, spending money in both big and small businesses. They are renting houses, buying cars, going out at night to meet people like themselves, and having fun.

Cities like Nashville, Portland, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, and Denver have all seen at least one percent of growth in the young professional population since the year 2000. These cities all have reputations of promoting growth and have fun environments. It is interesting to note how many of these places have professional sports teams, live entertainment venues, and bar scenes because these factors show just how important it is for cities to have more than just the necessities in order to function successfully.

While cities such as these are doing very well in attracting the young professional, many cities are still struggling to find their place on the map of growth in this particular area. Memphis in particular finds itself neither growing nor declining in this sector of the population since the year 2000, keeping its percentage of adults who are 25-34 years old and holding a four-year degree at 3.6%. Compared to cities like Denver, Boston, and Austin, who all hold their percentage at 7% or higher, the city of Memphis has its work cut out for it.

This attraction of a younger population starts in the heart of higher education. With schools like Rhodes College, the University of Memphis, and Christian Brothers University, there is a huge population of students living in Memphis throughout their college years. However, the most important thing about these students is where they choose to go after they graduate.

President Troutt of Rhodes College recently stated in an interview with WKNO that he believes Rhodes College is a “ genuine talent magnet” for Memphis and that despite the percentages of young professionals in Memphis, 42% of the class of 2013 at Rhodes decided to stay in Memphis post-graduation. He also believe that students’ involvement in undergraduate research at St. Jude, service in Memphis, and attaining internships during college “…leads to students who fall in love with the city and want to stay there and we think that’s a really important contribution for the city.” He continues by saying how deeply important it is to get students in these colleges involved around the city because once they make connections during their undergraduate years, they’re much more likely to stay once they have graduated.

Memphis has what it takes to be a young, talented, and interesting city that not only draws in post-graduates, but draws those from other cities in as well. With its rich history, live music, and professional sports, Memphis itself is an essential American city. What Memphis really needs to do, however, is to take a hint from other successful cities while keeping its character in order to create long-lasting relationships with its temporary residents in order to make them permanent and everlasting ones.

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