BYU alumni weigh pros, cons of leaving vs. staying in Utah after graduation

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Phillip Gulbrandsen and his wife explore their new home in Ireland. (Philip Gulbrandsen)
Phillip Gulbrandsen and his wife Katie Ann Gulbrandsen explore their new home in Ireland. (Philip Gulbrandsen)

Students come from all over the world to study at Brigham Young University, and almost half move away from Utah after graduation, according to University Communication’s spokesperson Todd Hollingshead.

A study done by the Pew Research Center found that the number of people who stay in their hometown far outweigh those who choose to move away. Americans who attended college, however, move more often than those who don’t.

“College graduates move longer distances — and move more often — than Americans with a high school diploma or less, and employment plays a greater role in their decisions about where to live,” the Pew Research Center study says.

Cory Newton graduated from BYU with a degree in mechanical engineering before relacating to California for a summer internship with the car company Tesla.

“I was interested in Tesla because I work on cars as a hobby and Tesla is a very well-known company these days,” Newton said. “I had experience building cars and working on cars already.”

Newton said he sees East Palo Alto as a good place to launch his career. He called it the “Mecca of technology” and said he has been able to rub shoulders with some of the great minds in the tech industry.

The only downside for Newtown is the cost of living; he doesn’t think East Palo Alto is going to be a long-term solution for him, although living in California has been a great learning experience.

“I feel like I’m adding value to a larger scale and gaining confidence here,” Newton said.

Six percent of BYU graduates are in New England, the Great Lakes area or other foreign locations, according to Hollingshead. BYU Accounting alumnus Phillip Gulbrandsen is part of this six percent.

Gulbrandsen started working for Qualtrics after he finished school and was told that the company needed employees in Ireland. Gulbrandsen volunteered to go, and a few months later, he and his wife were living in Dublin, Ireland.

“I came out here to manage a sales team and start a new product team,” Gulbrandsen said.

Gulbrandsen said it is fun to be on the newer side of Qualtrics, which is currently growing in Europe. He has been able to not only get work experience, but also travel the world with his wife, Katie Ann because of his job.

“Together we have been to seven new countries,” Gulbrandsen said. “I’ve also been to about three or four new countries without her for work.”

Thirty-three percent of BYU students are from Utah, according to YFacts. Even more students decide to stay in Utah after graduation. Richard Choules graduated from BYU in April 2016 in team development and found his career in Utah, making his choice to stay fairly easy.

Choules is originally from Virginia and is training to be a financial advisor for a local firm. He said his job is exactly the type of career he wants to be in right now. Choules and his wife enjoy Utah Valley and what it has to offer for his career.

“When I did move to Provo, I fell in love with the happy medium between city and suburb,” Choules said. “There are tons of things to do and we can escape from the world to be in the quiet anytime.”

Choules explained he was able to find his perfect job by being prepared and making sure he was always on track for graduation. He met with counselors every semester to ensure there would be no stress upon graduation. He also attended career fairs, which is how he eventually landed his current job.

Derek Jack, a career advancement manager at BYU career services, called BYU’s career fairs the “best in the state of Utah.” Students can visit career services to find all of the information on dates and times of career fairs.

Jack said some students can find a job easily anywhere in the world, while others have to travel to where they are needed.

“Sometimes students have to just go where the jobs are,” Jack said.

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