...As a BS scientist I was never once offered relocation money and moved on my own dollar when it was necessary. I was fortunate to have friends in hub areas that were able to let me stay with them until I could land a job and repay them for their kindness. I wasn't struggling for money while I was working, but I was living in hub cities and wasn't able to save a whole lot. When the layoffs came, my savings depleted quickly. That made moving with my own money rather onerous. Again, this was only possible because I had friends in areas where jobs were. I don't think it's responsible to advise people at this stage to just jump into a totally new scene for the adventure. Being young doesn't mean you can afford to be reckless just because you have more years to bounce back from it. Every person has their own preference, so the big city/small city is really a personality dependent variable. But smart planning is absolutely essential for people at that level. All of this ignores the fact that most companies won't even consider non-local candidates for BS positions due to the huge talent pool to draw from. Even during the "golden years" this was true.
As a PhD scientist, you MUST be flexible or be prepared to work non-ideal jobs. It's frowned upon in American universities to "inbreed," which indicates that there's an expectation that you'll be moving around to different places quite a bit. Don't want to move away from your hometown for work? Fine. Don't bitch about how you have to bust your ass adjuncting with no benefits to pay the bills. Like having an affordable apartment to yourself? Great. Don't complain about all the good jobs being in expensive locales that you don't want to live in. It's true that being a scientist nowadays requires an ability to be nomadic. I'll mention that I've moved a lot and have never gotten very generous relocation packages. Unlike BS level positions, most of the best jobs are concentrated into very specific geographical areas and it can be difficult to break into them. Living in one of the hubs doesn't guarantee that you'll be immune from struggles either. But if you're flexible, then it'll make finding a job a lot easier for you. If you can keep a good attitude about it, then you're in good shape and you'll probably find your experience rewarding.More by 4 pm Eastern.