In January, Amazon released a list of 20 cities being considered for its second headquarters – absent from it was Detroit. Amazon representatives cited the city’s lack of public transportation and the outflow of talented college graduates from the state as reasons for overlooking Detroit as a potential finalist
“Too many Michigan college graduates are leaving the state to seek employment elsewhere,” said Gov. Rick Snyder in 2012. “We must reverse this trend.”
According to the most recent census data, 135,443 people with bachelor’s degrees left Michigan and 155,147 moved to Michigan. The influx of college graduates is attributed to the internationally-educated immigrating to the U.S.
Omer Khan, a WSU computer science major, said he is moving to New York City after he graduates in May. He will be working for JP Morgan at one of its trading desks as a software engineer.
As Khan searched for jobs, he said he set his sights on living in New York or San Francisco.
“I really love [Detroit], and I especially like living here,” said Khan. “I think some of the opportunities for potential career growth that were available in New York and San Francisco were a bit too good to ignore.”
Ali Worthy, a freshman and political science major, said she plans to leave Michigan for law school after she graduates from WSU. Her top school choices for getting her law degree are in New York and California.
Worthy said her aspiration is to attend an ivy league school.
“I really want to break that barrier since there aren’t many black ivy league graduates,” said Worthy.
After completing her education, Worthy said she would like to move back to Detroit. She said there are plenty of opportunities in the city and it isn’t necessary to leave when looking for employment.
Caleb Latimer, a WSU computer science graduate who is currently employed in Michigan, said he considered pursuing a job out of Michigan. He said his love for the Detroit area, friends and finances played a factor in his decision to stay in the state.
Latimer said he is interested in pursuing a career outside of Michigan, but not in the near-future. He added that he is comfortable working in the area and finds that staying in Michigan is currently a more convenient option for him.
“If I’m making enough with the position I currently have, then there’s no real reason for me to leave at this point,” said Latimer.
With college graduates continuing to leave Michigan for employment, organizations such as Challenge Detroit are hoping to retain some of its brain power in the state.
Through Challenge Detroit, college educated individuals are invited to work at partner companies that host them for a year. While working for these host companies, the participants are also involved in non-profit causes that benefit the community.
Challenge Detroit’s goal is to motivate participants to stay in Detroit through finding employment or starting their own businesses.
“The world's a big place,” said Latimer. “You have to do what’s best for your career. And if that’s not here, then go get skills out there and bring them here.”