Variety of Jobs, Tight Knit Tech Community: Ann Arbor Surprises Chicago Transplant
When Jon Carstensen’s significant other moved to Ann Arbor for grad school, she was exposed to the annual A2 Tech Trek. Realizing it was a great opportunity to learn about potential careers here, she urged Carstensen, who was considering a move from Chicago to Ann Arbor, to check it out. He looked the event up on SPARK’s website where he not only found the Job Portal, he also watched a video about Tech Trek produced by Ann Arbor-based ICON Interactive.
“I uploaded my resume to the Job Portal and started sending out requests,” Carstensen explained. “I was excited when ICON followed up in about a week. I was working at a digital web agency that offered a similar line of services as ICON, but not the virtual reality and experiential work that they do. It was an exciting opportunity.”
Carstensen applied to be a web project manager and got the job. In his role, he manages the material for ICON’s internal and external projects, and serves as the main point of contact between the company and its clients.
Although Carstensen was a Michigan native – he moved to Chicago with his family when he started high school – he was still surprised by what he didn’t know about Ann Arbor.
“The tech community here is really tight knit, especially compared to what I experienced in Chicago,” he said. “I don’t need to go to seminars or conferences to meet people.”
Carstensen was also concerned about being job stranded – not having a lot of job opportunities throughout his career – by taking a position in Ann Arbor. “I did searches and found Ann Arbor on Top 10 lists as a best place to work and also found out the Job Portal where there were several jobs in my career path. I felt very hopeful after doing that homework, and that was reinforced by Tech Trek, where I experienced the employment landscape first hand. Then, through the Job Portal, I started getting a lot of interest from potential employers.”
By July 10, less than a month after Tech Trek and the job search started, Carstensen had a job at ICON Interactive. “Landing a job as a project manager is great, and I’m looking forward to growing in to senior role over time,” he said.
“To anyone curious about moving to Ann Arbor, I hope my story shows that they’ll have an easy transition, professionally, here,” Carstensen added. “Above and beyond the professional opportunities, the quality of life here is terrific, too. I can hit the trails for a bike ride, walk to the grocery store, and enjoy a lot of outdoor activities. Plus, there’s happy hour here – late afternoon discounts on drinks and food – which is a new thing to me. No matter your interests you’ll find a way to do them in Ann Arbor.”