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Women Out West: Businesswomen's Life on the West Coast

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

Imagine this: it’s 5 o'clock on a Friday, and you are about to leave work. You look out your office window and take in the spectacular view of blue skies and palm trees. You hear waves crashing on the beach. After work, you have plans to surf with friends and then grab dinner at a little restaurant on the beach. While this scene may sound like fantasy, it is reality for some businesswomen who live and work on the West coast. Ashley Urbansky and Madison Shimborske, two OSU and UBWA alumni can attest to the challenges and rewards of life out West.


Madison is a 2021 OSU graduate with a major in Information Systems and a minor in Studio Art. After graduation, she moved to San Francisco to take a role as a Strategy Analyst with River Financial, a Bitcoin financial services start-up. When I asked Madison what made a Midwest girl decide to move to the West coast, she said it was unplanned and that she happened to find the position online. Madison said her takeaway from this experience is that you should “…always look into the opportunities that are literally just placed in front of you. And don’t ever discount an opportunity.”


Ashley is a 2012 OSU graduate with a major in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. Ashley decided to make the move to California after a trip with her husband; she fell in love with the laid-back environment of the area. Since moving to California, Ashley has worked in multiple different roles. She has also worked in many settings, ranging from large corporations to smaller start-ups (where she has worked in some of her favorite roles so far). She is currently the Director of Demand Generation at a company called Emerged Inc, which is a sales platform for healthcare companies.


Both women highlighted the joys and difficulties of life on the West Coast. One major aspect that attracted Ashley and Madison was the culture of the West Coast. “The environment is more about enjoying your life out here,” Ashley claimed. She also mentioned how the business industry itself was more appealing to her. She noted the diversity, innovation, and growth opportunities for start-ups as some of the most intriguing features of the industry in California. Madison was on the same page and stated, “The energy of working in San Francisco, especially at a startup is so much different than Ohio. It’s fast-paced, it’s exciting, it’s exhausting.”


As for the challenges, both women mentioned the high living costs and the distance from family and friends back in the Midwest. “The west coast (San Francisco specifically) is very expensive, so I’m not sure I would’ve gone had my company not paid for it,” Madison stated. However, both women agreed that the benefits of new career opportunities, new friends, and new experiences, in general, outweighed the hardships.


One of the main reasons I chose to interview Ashley and Madison was to hear their advice on how to start the overwhelming journey of moving out West. One reoccurring statement I heard was that it is scary at first. Madison stated, “Don’t be afraid to take a chance or try something new. It’s okay (and good!) to be out of your comfort zone. And if you move to the West coast you definitely will be.” As for the business aspect, both businesswomen communicated the importance of being flexible. Don't only expect to work for a Fortune 500 company and don’t only expect to work for start-ups. Take opportunities, even if it diverges from your original plan. As for how to get your foot in the door of a West coast company as a Midwest native, make sure you are willing to work from home if needed but also willing to relocate. “Position yourself on your resume to say when you are relocating, as well as your work-from-home preferences," Ashley recommends.


Lastly, I want to include something that Madison said that stuck with me:


“If you go out there and it’s not for you, guess what? That’s okay! It’s not the end of the world. It’s never too late to change your path if it’s not what’s meant for you.”


Take the chance.

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