I spent some time with a group of college students in a business internship discussing leadership and success.
During the question-and-answer session, I got the “can we find a decent career in Oklahoma, or should we move to a bigger city or state?” question. My answer was simple: There are plenty of opportunities here and even more reasons to build a career, family and business in Oklahoma.
Colleges are plentiful in Oklahoma, conveniently located across our state and very inexpensive relative to most states. Public and private schools make it attractive to pursue bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and law degrees. Oklahoma makes it easy to build a resume and credentials that open career doors.
For an area with a population of about 1 million, the Oklahoma City metro is a pretty small town when it comes to knowing people. The old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has opened a lot of doors for many of us in the Oklahoma City business community.
I travel a lot, and know the cost of living, working and doing business in Oklahoma is less than in most states. Hotels and airport parking cost less here; movie tickets are $7 to $8 in Oklahoma and $9 to $10 in many other places. Dining out is less expensive here, as are groceries.
Concert tickets can be had for $50 to $100 in Oklahoma versus $200 to $500 in surrounding states. You can join a country club in Oklahoma City for a few thousand dollars versus $50,000 to $100,000 in most major cities. Greens fees at public golf courses are a fraction of those in competing cities, as are tickets to ball games and other sporting events.
Buying a home in Oklahoma will cost you tens of thousands of dollars less than in virtually any other state in America. Furthermore, the taxes on your home will be lower. My wife and I have a second home in Scottsdale, Ariz., but we bought the car and furniture for that home in Oklahoma City. Both were less expensive here, even with the cost of shipping to Phoenix, Ariz.
What about job opportunities? Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Devon Energy Corp. get a lot of well-deserved headlines for the hundreds of great jobs they have brought to Oklahoma, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.
Will you find a better job someplace else? Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is you won’t find a job here if you move away. Earning $30,000 to $50,000 in Dallas; St. Louis; Nashville, Tenn.; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix, Ariz.; or Denver isn’t comparable to the same amount here, especially if you want to own a home. There are plenty of opportunities in Oklahoma, but you won’t find a job putting your resume online. Knock on some doors, get face-to-face interviews, follow up with personal thank you notes (not e-mails) and keep calling to see about the job. Stay in Oklahoma and reinvest in Oklahoma ” be part of the growth our state is enjoying.
Orza is dean of the MeindersSchool of Business at Oklahoma CityUniversity.