Life in Columbia

Two years ago, I moved to Charlotte after accepting a job at Bank of America. I might never have discovered this amazing city if I hadn’t chosen to pursue my MBA at the Darla Moore School of Business in Columbia, SC. Both the Moore School and Charlotte have turned out to be perfect homes for me.

But Columbia wasn’t always on my radar.

You might suspect that candidates mostly consider rankings, scholarships and alumni involvement as they evaluate MBA programs. While those things are important and the Moore School is strong across the board, according to an applicant survey by QS TopMBA, 51 percent of business school applicants pick their school based on location, which can affect everything from career opportunities to cost.

Before you pack your bags for the hustle and bustle of New York City or the start-up fever of Silicon Valley, you should carefully consider all that Columbia, South Carolina has to offer.

It’s a top-ten college town.
Columbia is the capital of South Carolina and it sits smack in the middle of a state rich with beauty, history and increased economic growth. It also doesn’t hurt that Columbia is ranked one of the top 10 college towns in the U.S.

Columbia is a capital place to be.
When you choose the Moore School you’ll spend time in South Carolina’s thriving capital city. It boasts an affordable cost of living that’s well below the national average — one reason Columbia was recently ranked among the Top 50 “Best Places to Live” by U.S. News & World Report.

When you need a break from class, you can enjoy your time in any number of ways:

  • Hang out or meet friends in the city’s handful of unique arts, shopping and dining districts.
  • Enjoy the university’s historic downtown campus and the many cultural, sports and educational events it provides.
  • Spend time outdoors in the city’s expansive riverfront park, at one of the city’s many seasonal festivals, or at nationally respected Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden.

It’s tucked between two major metropolitan areas.
Atlanta, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, the two economic and cultural hot spots in the region, are major sources of job opportunities for International MBA graduates. Both cities were recently ranked in the top 10 for metropolitan areas exceeding job growth expectations.

The immersion program is second to none.
International MBA students at the Moore School spend months immersed in foreign countries and deeply experience the connection between business and local culture firsthand. Internships in global corporations provide hands-on lessons that help produce exceptionally competent global business leaders. That’s one reason Moore School students successfully land jobs around the world.

Global career opportunities abound in your backyard.
In neighboring Atlanta, just three hours by car from Columbia, International MBA graduates have recently secured jobs at Delta, Ernst & Young, The Coca Cola Co., Newell Rubbermaid, and ScottMadden Management Consultants, among other global corporations.

Other reasons Atlanta is a career hotspot:

  • named Atlanta the second best city in the country for millennials, based on job growth and other factors.
  • Moody’s expects Atlanta’s job growth to be 14.3 percent through 2019.
  • The cost of living in Atlanta is lower than that of other big cities.
  • Residents enjoy vibrant nightlife and access to popular attractions including the world-renowned aquarium and zoo.

My hometown of Charlotte, N.C. is just a short hour-and-a-half drive north of Columbia. Like me, recent Moore School graduates have landed jobs at Bank of America, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Dimensional Funds Advisor, IBM Consulting and other leading corporations.

Other reasons the Queen City is king:

  • The region is known for opportunities in consulting, technology, finance, and healthcare — the same industries that lead the way in increased full-time recruitment activity according to a January 2016 survey by MBA Career Services and Employers Alliance.
  • Charlotte has the second highest population growth among large U.S. cities.
  • It’s a mix of trendy neighborhoods, NASCAR culture, highly respected museums and cultural attractions.
  • The region boasts eight Fortune 500 corporate headquarters and more than 850 foreign companies — big reasons why the city is the United States’ second largest financial center.
  • listed Charlotte as the #1 Best Place to Live, citing education, economy, crime rate, parks, recreation and housing as criteria.

But as much as I’m enjoying life in Charlotte now, it’s also good to know that my favorite Columbia people and places aren’t too far away!

By: Ryan Nielsen (2015, International MBA)
Vice President – Information Security
Bank of America Corporation