Now that applications are open for 2014 positions (did you see our Instagram and Facebook countdown by the way?) I thought I would address one of the age old dilemmas which we all will face at some time in our lives; whether to stay at home or to move away. Some of us will have already made this choice when choosing a University to attend, whilst others will have only witnessed this tough choice on travel TV programmes, where the participants face a choice of staying in the UK or moving to wherever it is that they want to sit in the sun/ bathe in fresh springs/ open a zoo. The decision is really up to you, and there is no one size fits all advice that I can give however I will offer you the experiences of my friends and I to help you along the way.
Firstly, for those who have already moved away (for Uni etc) moving home may seem an offensive idea, however there are plenty of benefits that come with staying put, and not just the home comforts. It can be a great way to save money, as most of the time parents are much more open to persuasion than letting agents when it comes to rent. Secondly, you may already have a fantastic social circle and attend a Zumba class every week that you just don’t want to give up. On top of this there is the possibility of getting home at night to your dinner already cooking in the oven (for me living alone the only way this happen would be if a culinary loving burglar had broken in!). You can see why this option seems pretty sweet.
And then there is the option of uprooting and trying somewhere new, you have the opportunity to meet new people, try different things and expand your horizons. This can be a scary thought, especially when coping with a new job and college commitments, however it gives you the opportunity of doubling your friend count (your old friends at home will never forget about you), trying out restaurants (helped by the arrival of a pay cheque every month) and perhaps going to a bikram yoga class which may just beat your old Zumba routine. The word to focus on is “might” because it is impossible to know how you will find it until you take the plunge.
In case you were wondering, I chose the second option. My family lives in the Midlands and after attending university in Cardiff, I decided upon a move to Bristol to start my training contract. This does mean I have to fork out for rent which I probably wouldn’t have to at home, but with this has come growth in my personality and in my life which I never could have imagined (plus my parents get to have a monthly holiday to the South West). I’ll be the first to admit that during the first few months I found it difficult to settle in; it was winter, I didn’t know anyone in Bristol and I was starting to think that taking a job in Leicester could have been a better choice. However, a year in to the job, the first few rocky months have passed and I have friends, great colleagues, a beautiful flat and a whole new set of possibilities have opened up my life. It’s important to take a longer term view when things seem difficult and not make any irrational decisions, take the time to think about why it was you made the decision to move in the first place and if there are things that you could be doing to make the experience more enjoyable. I decided that I had not been making enough effort to get out of my flat and into Bristol life and so with a little bit of effort and the passing of time, juggling work, life and college became easier and I gradually settled in and began to really enjoy my new lifestyle.
Based on my own experiences, I would say that if you are a person who doesn’t mind straying from your comfort zone, and are happy to put yourself out there to meet new people, then go for it and move away. You will need to learn quickly how to be independent and, as per Maddie’s #WWYAB blog, set goals and plan in order to really start getting to know people and doing things. Staying in your university town/city may be tempting, however you will have to remember that you are no longer a student (wild nights out on a Wednesday are not as fun with a client meeting to prepare for at 9am the following morning). This can however be a good compromise (if you moved away for uni/previous training) as you will likely already have made some friends and know the area. If you are a person who prefers to stay within a strong support network, with a stable environment and routine then perhaps staying close to home may be advisable, you could always try a secondment further afield as you become more qualified to see how you find the move.
Whatever choice you make at the application stage, do whatever feels right for you and remember that within a global organisation like Grant Thornton, there are always great opportunities for development both home and away. Certainly within Public Sector Audit in the South region, there are a lot of opportunities for staying away at jobs (such as my recent trip to the Scilly Isles), as well as secondments, as you become more qualified, into other regions and areas of the business. Whether your time to take the plunge is now or later on, dive right in, take every opportunity and make the most of those pay cheques.