Young professional: How to make it in Birmingham

Taylor Peake Wyatt
Taylor Peake Wyatt, co-founder of MotionMobs and President of Kiosk Evolution

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is Taylor Peake Wyatt .  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

When I recently read the guest blog on ComebackTown, A 4 letter word: Why young professionals leave Birmingham, I had to respond.

I’m eager to give Birmingham’s business community the credit it deserves and to explain why I enjoy growing my career here.

I would like to answer the question how a small but vibrant city is keeping talented young professionals inspired and growing.

Being a young professional has a lot of challenges and being a young female entrepreneur has even more. There’s a lot of pressure in being independent and starting your career – especially if you’re dealing with student loans, a lack of available jobs, and wanting to support a family of your own.  It takes balance, passion, and perseverance.

Like most young college graduates, getting my career off the ground wasn’t easy. I worked full time throughout college to avoid student loans, and I started planning my career early. I wanted to find the right environment to learn and grow my career. After working for a local business for a few months, I decided to start my own company.

Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and employing, several successful young professionals in Birmingham. We’ve had many conversations about how to overcome the pressure to be independent and make good career decisions. Here are three tactics to help young professionals thrive in the Magic City.

  • How to stand out:  The days of just posting your resume online or sending it in a mass e-mail to family and friends are long gone.  You need to show employers what interests you about their company and what you can add to their team.  Do your research.  Make sure you’ve identified companies that are the right size and have the right culture to be a good fit.  You should learn as much as you can about them, follow their thought leaders on Twitter, and personalize your job inquiries.
  • Making your money work:  Money is always a challenge for young professionals.  Companies pay less to compensate for the extra risk and training required when hiring someone without proven experience.  Create opportunities for yourself by exceeding expectations and finding ways to go the extra mile.  It’s easier to ask for a raise once you’ve made yourself indispensable.  Keep your lifestyle simple to make your money go further and your life easier. Resist the urge to take on car payments, if you already have a reliable car.  It’s natural to want to reward yourself right out of college.
  • Location, location, location:  Sometimes the right job and the right city aren’t in the same place.  Fortunately for young professionals in Birmingham there are a lot of things to love about our city and its business community.  We have a lot of companies and organizations dedicated to revive our city and keeping talented young professionals here.

On a panel a few months ago, I was asked why I chose to start my company in Birmingham (instead of San Francisco or New York City) and what we can do to compete with cities like those. I started MotionMobs in Birmingham for the remarkable talent, the resources for small businesses, and the exciting revitalization of our downtown City Center. As for what Birmingham can do to compete with New York and San Francisco…we don’t have to. We can play to our strengths and create cutting-edge biotech companies and award-winning advertising agencies. We don’t need to be San Francisco. We just need to be the best Birmingham we can be.

As a small city, Birmingham may not be able to match the number of opportunities in larger cities, but there are so many unique organizations striving to help our businesses grow and our young professionals prosper.  Here are just a few:

  • Victor Brown at the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) has helped many small businesses and their employees grow.  He’s always looking for new ways to build jobs in our city and connect people.
  • The Birmingham Business Journal is a huge asset for young professionals.  They highlight new positions, growing companies, and interviews with community leaders daily.
  • Innovation Depot continues to work to help launch more prosperous small businesses—that translates into more jobs for our city.
  • Regions Bank’s large and generous donation to help bring Regions Field to downtown has provided more jobs and more opportunity for our city center.
  • David Fleming’s work at REV Birmingham has helped place new businesses in vacant commercial space and created more jobs for young professionals.
  • I’ve heard great things about the Young Professionals of Birmingham and how they help connect new young professionals with what the city has to offer.
  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s large footprint, advanced medical technology, and a large list of available positions provides more jobs than any other Alabama employer and brings access to advanced health care for our families.
  • This blog, The Comeback Town, itself is an excellent example of Birmingham supporters and business leaders dedicated to provide a better future for new job seekers.

I continue to be humbled by our business community’s efforts to spark new conversations, and more importantly, actions to improve our city. I’m grateful for the mentorship opportunities Birmingham has provided to my team, myself, and my family.

Taylor Peake Wyatt is the co-founder of MotionMobs and President of Kiosk Evolution. She resides in downtown Birmingham. Since 2010, Taylor has been involved in building and growing Birmingham’s technology community.

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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising Agency and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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4 thoughts on “Young professional: How to make it in Birmingham”

  1. David, 

    Great insights. As a 21-year old Birmingham native and current junior student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I can truly appreciate everything the city of Birmingham is doing to attract and retain its young professional talent. 

    Do you all post content relative to “aspiring young Birmingham professionals?” I’m a frequent blogger and writer myself. I see a major opportunity here that you should tap in to. Let’s chat if you agree. 

    Thanks again for providing the greet info by your guest blogger! Talk soon.   

  2. Thankfully, the good old boy network that has been prevalent in this town for so long is finally dying out, from attrition if nothing else. It’s great to have fresh new talent with a little spunk, like yourself, coming up to take their place. I’ve spoken with you several times over the past few years and have a lot of confidence in you and the other young professionals to capitalize on the potential Birmingham has to offer. Your already off to a great start. Thanks for the post.


  3. Ms. Peake,

    Just a quick flag waive for those messing around with tech – Birmingham now has it’s very own makerspace, <a href=”>Red Mountain Makers</a>. If you need access to bigger and better tools than you can fit into your home garage, and/or want to hang out with the nerds, programmers, designers and artists who’ll be able to make useful contributions to products, apps or software that you’re prototyping, come down to one of our project nights and check things out. We’re aiming to be one of those civic crossroad places within the city where folks of all stripes and interests work side-by-side on projects of mutual interest. 

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