Author Topic: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate  (Read 5083 times)

lovesasa

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Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« on: April 05, 2015, 04:01:21 AM »
I tried searching for threads on this but I didn't find what I was looking for. Sorry if this has been asked before.

I realize a big part of the MMM philosophy is to spend less and increase your savings rate. However, I feel like the other side of the coin is that increasing your earnings helps accelerate this process. I'm wondering what kinds of careers I should be looking at that would help me increase my earnings without having to go back to school.

I'm currently a teacher in China. I've been here for two years and plan on staying a third. This has so far been a great choice for me, as I've accomplished a lot of personal goals and grown as a person. I've lost and kept off over 40lbs, paid off all but $5K of student loans (which should be gone by summer!) and am working on my Mandarin. My main reasons for staying another year are that I like my job, I can save a decent amount, and I would like to improve my Mandarin to an acceptable professional level. That being said, I'm already nearing the top of my potential career growth here without getting a US teaching degree, and I don't want to be a teacher the rest of my life or if/when I return to the US.

My plan is to work this year, focus on studying Chinese, and save as much as I can to "buffer" against career uncertainty. I plan to take the Foreign Service Officer's Test this fall, but that's a 2 year total application process and only something like 1.5% of people make it through the entire process. It's basically my dream job despite medium pay, but I know my chances of getting in are very slim. I have however decided that I'm tired of living in China and am ready for a change of scenery, I'm thinking of returning home to Colorado next summer (July 2016). I've also considered moving back to Germany or Spain, but I'd like to spend some time at home first. If I do need to pursue a masters degree, I'd probably try to do it in Germany where it's much cheaper than the US.

Basic stats:
25 years old (will be 26, almost 27 when I come back) female.
Bachelor of Arts from a top 30 liberal arts college in International Political Economy
English native speaker, fluent in German (lived there 1 year in high school), passable in Spanish (studied ~10 years, studied in Spain and Mexico, rusty but could get back up to professional level quickly), passable in Chinese (hoping to pass the HSK5 fluency exam next year).
5 years experience as a Computer Lab technician (in college)
1 year as an English teacher, plus some time teaching and tutoring in the US
1 year teaching AP Microeconomics and IGCSE Business Studies (will be 2 years after next year, adding AP Macroeconomics)

I worked in the computer labs in college so I have decent computer skills, specifically in GIS (a mapping program, commonly used by the US government) but no actual certifications. No huge desire to end back up in a computer lab or to learn programming, but if that seems the best option I would consider it. I'd much rather a career focused on something else (finance? policy? international business?) in which I could use my computer skills as a bonus to my work, rather than the main focus.

I've considered consulting. I don't think I have a strong enough background to get in with a top firm, but maybe I could get in with a small boutique firm or start my own group. My career counselor in college advised this when I decided not to try for law school, and a few of my classmates went directly into consulting after undergrad. I know it's a TON of work, but it pays well and seems exciting, at least while I'm still young and energetic. I would think there would be some demand for advice on working with companies from China, Mexico, and Germany.

I've also considered something banking related but I'm not really sure what my options would be. Not really interested in investment banking or anything incredibly high stress. I was pretty young but aware when my dad's day trading company imploded and it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, even though now that I'm older I realize there was a lot of other stuff going on.

My uncle owns a company in Nogales, Mexico and my cousin is in Guadalajara, so I've debated either going to Jalisco to visit my cousin or asking my uncle about an unpaid internship so I could help him out in exchange for learning more about his business and improving/remembering my Spanish. His company makes fishhooks and feathers for arrows, so not really an exciting field, but maybe valuable to learn about international trade from the business perspective?

Basically I know I have a lot of options but I'm pretty clueless as to what they might be or where to begin looking. I miss home so I'd prefer to go back to Denver/Boulder but I know they're pretty expensive right now and maybe not the best place for someone with a very international focused skillset. I'd be willing to consider almost anywhere along the West Coast and mayyyyybe Washington DC. I would also consider Europe, but right now might not be the best time. ;)

It's probably obvious I'm really unsure what route to take here. Teaching abroad and the State Department are the two jobs that have truly resonated with me, but I'm pretty burnt out on teaching and I know I need a backup plan to the Foreign Service.

This group seems to be full of experienced high earners from a variety of fields, so any advice as to where to start looking would be appreciated. What careers should I look into? What skills might I work on this year to improve my chances?

Mari

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2015, 06:02:44 AM »
Your broad command of languages could be an invaluable resource to any company with a significant international presence. 

My nephew landed a great job at Amazon fresh out of college mainly due to his language skills. He speaks English and Spanish fluently since childhood, and also studied French extensively throughout high school and college, spending a year in France as an exchange student etc. He now works for the Fraud Division at the main Amazon headquarters in downtown Seattle, helping to identify and resolve fraudulent activity on the website in French and Spanish speaking countries.  He is thrilled to be able to spend his days reading and speaking in French and Spanish, has great pay and benefits, and walks to work!

Keep your eyes and mind open, and speak with as many people as possible to learn of available opportunities.

Gimesalot

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2015, 11:16:44 AM »
Can you get involved in a local ex-pat group?  Those people will most likely work for huge multinational corporations that are looking for your type of talent.  That maybe a good starting point.

Keep in mind that in addition to speaking several languages, your skill set also includes adapting to different cultures, interfacing with people in difficult situations, communicating effectively using body language, etc.  Think through how you can use and sell these skills to broaden your job options.

Some companies you might want to look into (I'm an engineer so these are the ones I am most familiar with):
BMW
Mercedes
BASF
Evonik
Shell
Exxon
Chevron
Medtronic

See what kind of positions they have available that could use your skill set.  Fill in the gaps of what you don't have.  Also, you may want to target Universities that are trying to recruit students from abroad.  FYI, most of the companies above will help pay for your master's degree.

lovesasa

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2015, 10:20:35 PM »
Your broad command of languages could be an invaluable resource to any company with a significant international presence. 

My nephew landed a great job at Amazon fresh out of college mainly due to his language skills. He speaks English and Spanish fluently since childhood, and also studied French extensively throughout high school and college, spending a year in France as an exchange student etc. He now works for the Fraud Division at the main Amazon headquarters in downtown Seattle, helping to identify and resolve fraudulent activity on the website in French and Spanish speaking countries.  He is thrilled to be able to spend his days reading and speaking in French and Spanish, has great pay and benefits, and walks to work!

Thanks for the example of your nephew!

These are the kinds of jobs I don't even know exist. Unfortunately I'm not natively bilingual to any of my languages so I think a lot of specific translation or very local language optimization might be above my head, but I'll see if there aren't other things like this that mainly focus on a different goal (like catching fraud) but would use my language skills.

Keep your eyes and mind open, and speak with as many people as possible to learn of available opportunities.

Yeah this is what I'm trying to do. Unfortunately right now I'm really so unaware of what options exist that my mind is completely open! Worried my brain might fall out. ;)

Cwadda

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2015, 10:26:45 PM »
Following this topic because I have a friend in the same boat. Geography major, fluent in English and Spanish, and is learning German.

For the OP, I know GIS is used a lot in the corporate world for geological and environmental applications. Oil and gas companies come to mind, especially with the language skillset. There are people that get hired just as GIS specialists, and that's all they do.

lovesasa

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2015, 10:36:26 PM »
Can you get involved in a local ex-pat group?  Those people will most likely work for huge multinational corporations that are looking for your type of talent.  That maybe a good starting point.

I do know a good amount of the expats here. Unfortunately Kunming is not a huge business hub, so almost all the foreigners I know either teach or own bars/restaurants. I do know one guy who is some kind of middleman for import export, so I should see if I could take him to lunch. The nearest business or entrepreneurship groups for expats are all the way in Chengdu, an hour or so flight away.

Back in Colorado I was involved with the German American Business Association and Rotaract, both of which I plan to get back into when I return. They seem to be pretty good opportunities for networking, although I didn't take much advantage of that aspect before. I think there's also a group called something like the Colorado-China friendship council, but I don't know much about them.

Keep in mind that in addition to speaking several languages, your skill set also includes adapting to different cultures, interfacing with people in difficult situations, communicating effectively using body language, etc.  Think through how you can use and sell these skills to broaden your job options.

This! Because I am not natively bilingual in any of my other languages (I grew up in an English-only household), I don't think I'm very competitive on that front. However I spent college studying essentially international relations and I've had a lot of experience dealing with German and Chinese cultures, as well as Mexican, and many other groups from my previous jobs both in teaching and computers. So I've worked with, worked under, lived with, and taught people from many different backgrounds. That must be somehow useful, right?

What I'm not quite sure is who would find that useful or what the types of jobs/job titles are that I should be looking at.

Some companies you might want to look into (I'm an engineer so these are the ones I am most familiar with):
BMW
Mercedes
BASF
Evonik
Shell
Exxon
Chevron
Medtronic

See what kind of positions they have available that could use your skill set.  Fill in the gaps of what you don't have.  Also, you may want to target Universities that are trying to recruit students from abroad.  FYI, most of the companies above will help pay for your master's degree.

Thanks! I'll look into all of those companies. My mom also mentioned that a lot of businesses are willing to help out with advanced degrees. I had forgotten about that, so that's rather relieving. Assuming I get a position with them, of course. :) Is that usually something discussed in initial hiring/salary negotiation, or later in your career during discussions about raises/promotions?

lovesasa

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2015, 10:43:33 PM »
Following this topic because I have a friend in the same boat. Geography major, fluent in English and Spanish, and is learning German.

For the OP, I know GIS is used a lot in the corporate world for geological and environmental applications. Oil and gas companies come to mind, especially with the language skillset. There are people that get hired just as GIS specialists, and that's all they do.

That's good to know, thanks! When I was looking into GIS positions before I came to China most of what I saw was government and environmental work. I have some college friends and a cousin who work in oil and gas, so I might ask them if they think I have a shot. They all had previous backgrounds either in science or quarries.

Do you think it would be worthwhile to get some kind of certification in GIS? I've been contemplating this, but it's fairly expensive and time intensive so I might choose not to if it wouldn't be helpful. Not entirely sure if I want to be a GIS specialist, but it's a possibility... I'll shoot an email off to my old supervisor (GIS specialist for my alma mater).

Cwadda

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2015, 11:09:18 AM »
Following this topic because I have a friend in the same boat. Geography major, fluent in English and Spanish, and is learning German.

For the OP, I know GIS is used a lot in the corporate world for geological and environmental applications. Oil and gas companies come to mind, especially with the language skillset. There are people that get hired just as GIS specialists, and that's all they do.

That's good to know, thanks! When I was looking into GIS positions before I came to China most of what I saw was government and environmental work. I have some college friends and a cousin who work in oil and gas, so I might ask them if they think I have a shot. They all had previous backgrounds either in science or quarries.

Do you think it would be worthwhile to get some kind of certification in GIS? I've been contemplating this, but it's fairly expensive and time intensive so I might choose not to if it wouldn't be helpful. Not entirely sure if I want to be a GIS specialist, but it's a possibility... I'll shoot an email off to my old supervisor (GIS specialist for my alma mater).

GIS is kind of like programming. If you know how to do it well, then it'll be a very marketable skill. Not sure if you'd need the certification; your supervisor would be able to answer that. I'm thinking that it could be a stepping stone into the corporate world (O&G companies like Exonn Mobile and Shell) if that's what you're looking for (they tend to have the highest pay). Combine that with your language skills and you quickly have lots of opportunities in the international industries. Because the field is dominated by engineers and advanced science degrees, those are skills that not a lot of candidates will have.

The thing about being a GIS specialist is that you can quickly become pigeonholed behind a desk only doing GIS stuff. As an Env. Science/Geology major I know how to do GIS things, but a career in just that is not my cup of tea.

thedayisbrave

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2015, 11:53:16 AM »
Hey, wow we have quite a lot in common! I'm also a 25 year old female, passably fluent in both Chinese and Spanish but a bit rusty in both just due to lack of use.  I've considered very similar career paths to you, though ultimately I decided on real estate.

Before that though, I considered being a foreign service officer or translator as well.  Have you thought about getting a paralegal license and working in immigration or in a law office? That's something that was always suggested to me when others found out about my command of foreign languages. 

I agree it doesn't sound like investment banking or similar is for you.  I ended up getting my Master's in Innovation Management which took me abroad and gave me unique training on building a business, strategy, and so on.  So it was valuable even though what I do is not directly in innovation management (though many argue the real estate industry is ripe for innovation.. working on it ;) Don't know if that helps, but that's the path I ended up taking.  Another friend of mine was also going the FBI/government services route, he's pretty near fluent in Russian and was a uber superstar on the college rifle team... he's now working for an internet marketing company.  I think that's a short-term thing, but anyway..

Good luck! I'm excited to follow your journey! :)

RexualChocolate

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2015, 05:50:21 PM »
You have a ton of great options.

If you want to maximize earning potential, networking with someone on the softer skills side on finance or consulting would be the perfect job to immediately step into. See who you know in Sales and Trading or Investment Banking, or a business development or maybe even client servicing role at a consulting firm. Your background it may be a hurdle, but someone needs competent employees with people skills that can speak these languages. Should be able to step into an 80k+ job if you can interview well. However, depending on your existing network, this may not be an option yet, and even if it is, could prove difficult. Teaching experience isn't viewed favorably in a lot of competitive firms. Which leads me to my next idea:

As a female applicant with a cool backstory, you'd be a shoe in at top 20 MBA programs if you can beat a 650 or so GMAT as well. Not everyone can do this, but even above 600 you'd be able to get into reasonable programs, say top 50. They'll love your experience and it will give you tons of interviews with companies where you can figure out what you really want to do. This means some debt and 18 months not working, with a paid internship in the middle. You can expect 100K+ out of school, so can still be worth it.

I think your key is to find someone who really appreciates your experiences. MBA program will do that for you if its hard to do on your own. 

lovesasa

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2015, 03:08:40 AM »
Following this topic because I have a friend in the same boat. Geography major, fluent in English and Spanish, and is learning German.

For the OP, I know GIS is used a lot in the corporate world for geological and environmental applications. Oil and gas companies come to mind, especially with the language skillset. There are people that get hired just as GIS specialists, and that's all they do.

That's good to know, thanks! When I was looking into GIS positions before I came to China most of what I saw was government and environmental work. I have some college friends and a cousin who work in oil and gas, so I might ask them if they think I have a shot. They all had previous backgrounds either in science or quarries.

Do you think it would be worthwhile to get some kind of certification in GIS? I've been contemplating this, but it's fairly expensive and time intensive so I might choose not to if it wouldn't be helpful. Not entirely sure if I want to be a GIS specialist, but it's a possibility... I'll shoot an email off to my old supervisor (GIS specialist for my alma mater).

GIS is kind of like programming. If you know how to do it well, then it'll be a very marketable skill. Not sure if you'd need the certification; your supervisor would be able to answer that. I'm thinking that it could be a stepping stone into the corporate world (O&G companies like Exonn Mobile and Shell) if that's what you're looking for (they tend to have the highest pay). Combine that with your language skills and you quickly have lots of opportunities in the international industries. Because the field is dominated by engineers and advanced science degrees, those are skills that not a lot of candidates will have.

The thing about being a GIS specialist is that you can quickly become pigeonholed behind a desk only doing GIS stuff. As an Env. Science/Geology major I know how to do GIS things, but a career in just that is not my cup of tea.

Thanks for the info! I guess that being pigeonholed is my biggest concern. I enjoyed GIS but I didn't particularly enjoy working intense hours at a computer everyday. I think I'd enjoy something a little more social, but I'll keep it on the backburner as an option.

lovesasa

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2015, 03:10:28 AM »
Before that though, I considered being a foreign service officer or translator as well.  Have you thought about getting a paralegal license and working in immigration or in a law office? That's something that was always suggested to me when others found out about my command of foreign languages. 

I have thought about something like this. I think I'd have to study pretty hard to get certified as an interpreter, but it would be possible. Thanks for the idea!

lovesasa

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2015, 04:54:46 AM »
You have a ton of great options.

If you want to maximize earning potential, networking with someone on the softer skills side on finance or consulting would be the perfect job to immediately step into. See who you know in Sales and Trading or Investment Banking, or a business development or maybe even client servicing role at a consulting firm. Your background it may be a hurdle, but someone needs competent employees with people skills that can speak these languages. Should be able to step into an 80k+ job if you can interview well. However, depending on your existing network, this may not be an option yet, and even if it is, could prove difficult. Teaching experience isn't viewed favorably in a lot of competitive firms.


This is really great advice, thank you so much! I've spent the last week really thinking about this. Luckily I do have a number of acquaintances from college who went into both consulting and investment banking, and a couple of friends-of-friends who went into business development. I want to figure out what I want to do a little bit more, but then I'll start reaching out and see who could advise me. When I get back to the US I'll try to take people out for coffee, but a lot of them moved east or to the west coast, I'm not sure how many are still in Colorado.

Which leads me to my next idea:

As a female applicant with a cool backstory, you'd be a shoe in at top 20 MBA programs if you can beat a 650 or so GMAT as well. Not everyone can do this, but even above 600 you'd be able to get into reasonable programs, say top 50. They'll love your experience and it will give you tons of interviews with companies where you can figure out what you really want to do. This means some debt and 18 months not working, with a paid internship in the middle. You can expect 100K+ out of school, so can still be worth it.

I think your key is to find someone who really appreciates your experiences. MBA program will do that for you if its hard to do on your own.

Also great advice. Combining your advice with others' and some other conversations, here's my plan:

One more year teaching. My student loans are almost paid off, so anything I save this year will prepare me for the expenses of moving back to the US and job hunting costs, as well as an apartment deposit and (hopefully not) a car payment. I will stay with my parents and borrow my mom's car for interviews (they live outside the city) until I find a job. When I find a job I'll commute while I try to find an apartment nearby. If I can find a close enough apartment, I'll use my touring bike or road bike to commute. The Denver rental market is going insane right now so I might not be able to find something affordable/at all, in which case I would purchase a used Prius to commute from slightly outside the city.

I just discovered I'm continuing to teach the IGCSE Business class next year rather than teaching Micro again, and adding Macroeconomics. While this was not what I was expecting, I've realized this is a good chance for me to review and add to my Business knowledge. My degree was focused on Economics so while a lot of the concepts overlap, a lot of the vocabulary changes and I didn't study management. I found a few online classes from UPenn Wharton Business school on Coursera so I plan to take those and spend this year learning more about business development, marketing, finance, and business consulting so I will be more prepared when I start job hunting next summer.

When I get home I'll get back involved with my alumni networking group, the German American Business Association, and Rotary/Rotaract. I'll try to get back in touch with college friends/acquaintances and Rotary contacts who have business experience to get advice and get some pointers about who is hiring locally. The governor is trying to get more international business in Denver and there is FINALLY public transportation to the airport, so even if I have to travel a lot for work, there's more hope for something using an international skillset.

I do tend to give a good first impression and have been told I interview well, but I'm definitely out of practice and have never interviewed for particularly white collar/business positions (other than entry-level project management). I read an amazing book before I moved to China that helped a lot with my interviews in California, so I'll re-read that. I may apply for some jobs mainly for practice or ask friends in recruiting to help me with mock interviews. My goal is something at about $60K (though I would obviously be incredibly happy with the $80K you mentioned). I will study for the GMAT and look into business school, but I'm hoping I can find a job without that investment and hopefully I can find an employer who would be willing to help pay for it if I truly need one. University of Denver is not high ranking nationally, but is very well respected locally, and has a number of programs for working professionals.

Still looking to narrow down my field/search, but I have a while.

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2015, 04:54:55 AM »
Have you thought about logistics?  Organising the transport of people and goods around the world is pretty interesting work.  It doesn't have the high profile of some other careers, nor does it have such a defined career path.  But it could be a good fit for your interests and skill sets, and it has the possibility of going in a lot of different directions with it - everyone from the military through all sorts and sizes of businesses to international charities need experts in logistics.

lovesasa

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2015, 05:07:33 AM »
Have you thought about logistics?  Organising the transport of people and goods around the world is pretty interesting work.  It doesn't have the high profile of some other careers, nor does it have such a defined career path.  But it could be a good fit for your interests and skill sets, and it has the possibility of going in a lot of different directions with it - everyone from the military through all sorts and sizes of businesses to international charities need experts in logistics.

That's a great idea, thanks! I'll have to look more into this, because I don't know much about what career prep would be involved with logistics. I have seen a few job listings for coordinating travel for executives, which I think I could be good at. Transporting goods might be more complicated, but I like puzzles and figuring out regulations, so it could be fun. In a very nerdy Type-A Way. BD

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2015, 08:59:32 PM »
This isn't much of a useful suggestion, but do you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile? I'd recommend having one if you don't already, make note of your language and all other skills, and see which recruiters come to you. Here in Silicon Valley my husband and I are contacted by headhunters on a semi-regular basis. Might as well passively throw yourself out there and see who might come biting.

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2015, 10:13:39 AM »
Have you considered the CIA? They have lots of jobs on their website that might interest you.

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2015, 12:27:05 PM »
My husband is fluent in English, Japanese and Chinese (spent 5+ years in each of the countries). He got two degrees in computer sciences and management sciences, and easily found very high paid jobs in IT industry in area like natural language processing, international search. His team hires multilingual as project managers, without any related degrees (like history major).

RexualChocolate

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Re: Higher Paying Career Options - Multilingual College Graduate
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2015, 08:46:54 PM »
Everything looks good, but I would not limit myself to one geographic area if at all possible. Being willing to move to where the jobs are is vital for getting started. I'm sure there's plenty of Denver stuff though so it may not be an issue.