Landing a position with a high-profile Silicon Valley tech firm is exciting. You’ll get to experience the rush of working in the sexy tech scene and have a marquee brand name on your resume. Maybe even more exciting, you’ll also get to brag to your friends and family about your cool job with that new app company generating the latest buzz.
Of course, working in Silicon Valley can also mean working practically around the clock, always passing on happy hour to meet deadlines, and delaying your plans to start a family because you’re just too busy.
While the majority of young job seekers, especially in the tech fields, gravitate toward big-name companies, there are plenty of exciting, rewarding, and cool jobs in “unsexy” industries as well. In fact, companies in the insurance, banking, accounting, and manufacturing industries are seriously seeking tech-savvy talent — and depending on your priorities, these can be some of the best places to work.
Before you set your sights on the Googles and Amazons of the world, consider these factors that make less buzzy industries great opportunities in their own right:
1. Spending Power
While the allure of a six-figure salary is hard to pass up, consider that in many of the high-tech hubs around the country, that’s a minimum living wage. Expenses like housing, utilities, and daily living costs can be extremely high and have a major impact on your lifestyle.
While workers in other industries may earn less, their salaries often go much further, thanks to the opportunity to live and work in lower-cost areas. That means more money in your pocket to do things you enjoy.
If you thrive on risk, tech culture might be a great fit, as you’ll constantly be hustling to keep the company afloat. On the heels of the last recession, however, young people increasingly value stability and job security.
For example, a recent survey of insurance professionals conducted by Vertafore found that 76 percent of millennials in the comparatively “unsexy” insurance industry have been in the business for more than three years, and 72 percent plan to stay in the field as long as possible. While no company is immune to failure, there is tremendous value in having a job in a strong industry with an established company, especially if you plan to start a family.
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3. Work/Life Balance
Working in the tech and startup worlds can be an intense, 24/7 obligation. There’s a reason firms like Google and Facebook offer free food, house cleaning, laundry services, on-site recreation, and nap pods: Many employees of these companies are under so much pressure that they don’t have much time to cook, clean, have fun, or get a decent night’s sleep.
Compare this to the 65 percent of young professionals in the Vertafore survey who said a healthy work/life balance is the No. 1 benefit of working in the insurance business. The regular 9-5 business hours and opportunity to truly unplug after work give these workers time for family, hobbies, volunteer work, or absolutely nothing — with no one breathing down their necks.
4. Community Involvement
Making an impact on the world, and in your own backyard, is a top priority for many young professionals. Certainly, many large tech firms donate millions of dollars to charity and support employee volunteer opportunities — but those are their causes, not necessarily yours.
Relationship-building is a critical component of industries like banking and insurance because people come to trust those they see doing good in their communities. That’s why community events are often sponsored and staffed by these local service providers —they’re building better communities and brand awareness at the same time.
When you work in a relationship-based industry, you get the opportunity to be an active, engaged part of the community. For example, you may get to join the local chamber of commerce, sit on the board of your favorite charity, or volunteer to read to students at the elementary school. Those kinds of opportunities make a major impact where it matters most.
People don’t often think of insurance, banking, and similar industries as being tech savvy. Believe it or not, there’s a massive amount of tech innovation going on outside of the traditional high-tech industries, and it spans a wide range of job roles.
Every business in every industry needs expertise in IT, web development, coding, cloud platform integration, social media marketing, and more. In the insurance business alone, more than 60 percent of young people say technology has made an impact in their work and their company, according to the Vertafore survey. This proves there are plenty of opportunities out there to put your innovation expertise to work for cutting-edge companies across all business sectors.
No matter your professional or personal goals, there are ample opportunities outside the big tech firms to build your career, gain valuable experience, and solve big problems with innovative solutions. By looking beyond the hype, young professionals can find fascinating, rewarding, and long-term careers in some of the least heralded and seemingly “unsexiest” industries.
Kristin Nease is vice president of human resources at Vertafore.