If you're looking for a summer internship or a job for after graduation, chances are you might be thinking about heading to a city. According to the Career Planning Center's surveys, the most popular locations for recent graduates are Massachusetts, New York State, Maine, and Washington, D.C. We checked in with recent Bowdoin graduates in top Bowdoin cities to see what they would recommend to students thinking about making a move.
Government is the most popular major at Bowdoin, and graduates report that the transition from the College to Washington isn't a difficult one. "D.C. is a very young and active city, and there are always opportunities to try and learn new things, a lot like Bowdoin in that respect," says Sarah Hippert '05. "It's not that big of a city and it's not overly intimidating, even if you're coming for the first time," she says. Shrinidi Mani '06 says the city "caters to diverse interests" and that people "are motivated and down to earth," making the transition "all the more easy."
For students looking for good eats, Hippert points to 18th Street and U Street, home to Dupont Market, which specializes in sandwiches on toasted ciabatta. She also reports that nearby Amsterdam Falafel is "cheap and delicious." Mani advises students not to miss out on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a "great venue." The center's Millennium Stage features free musical and theater performances every night.
Students looking for an apartment might want to check out locations in northern Virginia, with neighborhoods like Ballson and Clarendon only about 10 minutes away from the city, according to Mani. Hippert says students who want to stay in the city should stick to the Northwest area, including Dupont Circle, Columbia Heights, Woodley Park, or Cleveland Park.
New York City
Students who headed to New York rave about the opportunities to explore. "I love living in New York City because there is always something to do, whether you are going to a show off Broadway, visiting a museum, or hanging out at a local pub," reports Sarah Thomas '06, who works for Teach for America. Rebecca Economos '05 cites the "incredible range" of opportunities. "You don't have to make your own opportunities and fun because there is just so much to choose from," she says. Graduates enjoy the free music and theater events in the summer, along with events at local colleges. Economos also points to the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn and the Cloisters branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as "gorgeous" sites. "Get psyched to try anything and everything that you come across," she says.
Residents say that the transition between Bowdoin and the city can be tough, partly due to the lack of clear air and open spaces. Thomas says Central Park's outdoor activities helped to mitigate that problem. Residents also report that the "constant hustle" can be difficult. "Life here is incredibly fast-paced and it took a little while to find a balance," Economos says. Going to a friend's apartment can take "as long as driving from Bowdoin to Colby," and "people are less trusting" in the Big Apple, she says. "You have to take initiative to make friends outside of your Bowdoin, high school, or work friends more than during college."
As for living arrangements, Thomas recommends that students hire a broker to find an apartment?a broker can save time and avoid the stress of finding a place to stay while starting a new job. Economos says students should urge employers to give them a few weeks to find an apartment before beginning a job. Thomas recommends the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Hell's Kitchen, and Murray Hill. Park Slope, Fort Green, and Prospect Heights are listed as options for more affordable housing. Economos recommends the Not for Tourist guide for students trying to get situated.
The College's namesake came from Boston, and graduates living there now say they feel right at home. "I still see Bowdoin people on the T on at least a weekly basis," Heather Honiss '03 says, referencing Boston's public transportation system. Mara Caruso '03 says the first year after graduation is "tough" for graduates, but life in Boston makes things easier since "it is better to be in a place where a lot of your friends and other Bowdoin alumni live." Caruso also noted that the city's central location in relation to New York, Maine, and Washington, D.C. makes it "easier to connect with friends and family" in those places. Residents report that one of the city's best attributes is its size. There are "so many unique neighborhoods that are all easily accessible," Honnis says. Ben Chan '05 says that the city is big enough to "always find new places to go," but is small enough that a walk or a short T ride will get you where you need to go.
Graduates urge students who come to Boston to "keep exploring." "Do not become complacent with going to the same old bars and doing the same old thing," Chan, a Tufts dental student, says. "If you hear about this cool little spot, go there and see it for yourself." Chan says that the Boston Common is a great place to walk or run, especially in the summer or fall. He also admits that with its courtyard and collection, "the Boston Public Library is an amazing place." Noting that she loves the "constant display of 'Yankees Suck' T-shirts" in the city, Honiss says life in Boston isn't complete without a visit to Fenway Park.
As for living arrangements, residents point to Beacon Hill, Jamaica Plains, the North End, and Allston-Brighton. Honiss says many young grads end up in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood, where rent is lower and "the beer still flows 'til the wee hours of the morning." The North End is "accessible" and "has a very old world European feel," Caruso reports. Chan says Jamaica Plains offers a smaller town environment where residents can get away from the "city feel."
Graduates who chose to move to nearby Portland say they wouldn't want to be anywhere else. "There are lots of young people and it seems more are coming all the time," reports Chris Weiner '05, a Boston-area native who fell in love with the Maine coast while at Bowdoin. Weiner points out that the city's comparably small size isn't an issue, since in a big city "people carve out their small little section, and, for the most part, stay in that smaller area." Kerry Elson '05 states, "I don't ever want to leave," noting that her apartment is just two blocks from Casco Bay and has many friends and fantastic food choices nearby. She admits that she wonders about future work opportunities in her field?journalism?and says that the biggest drawback of Portland is that "we get movies later than bigger cities." "But if that's the worst thing I can think of, I guess its pretty good here," she says.
If you're looking to party, Weiner says the Old Port on a Saturday night is where it's at. "There is clearly no shortage of bars and partying. You don't need any more than we have here," he says. For residents who miss Quinby House's annual party, Bubba's Sulky Lounge on Portland Street should bring back memories. Elson reports that the lounge goes back to the '80s on Friday nights with a costume contest?"and people really do dress up." But that's not all, Elson says. "Best of all, it has a lighted dance floor." The bar scene is rounded out by the city's theaters and music scene. But Portland is more than nightlife, and Elson directs residents to Sacred and Profane, a "lovely" arts festival that occurs each fall on Peaks Island. Art is installed in corners of a "huge" bunker that was used for World War II, and visitors walk through the installation while holding candles. The festival is topped off with a large buffet feast. Silly's, a restaurant that lets you add whatever you want to a milkshake?including Rice Krispies and jalapenos?also gets high marks.
Weiner reports that he has a "sick apartment in the Old Port" for much less than what a similar apartment would cost in a city like Boston. Residents can choose from the West End, the East End, and the in-town or Old Port areas. Elson chose the East End, and says the area is relatively cheap, safe, and popular among younger people.