Insights and Opinions

Calling all engineering grads: There's lots of work in LA

Out of the top 20 schools for engineering, five of those are located in Southern California, but many of the graduates of these schools have felt the need to move north to pursue their careers. It's no secret that the that Silicon Valley has played host to the vast majority of hot--and hiring--technology companies over the past ten years.

However, there's a new trend emerging that's full of good news for tech workers who want to stay in sunny Southern California, and that's the continued appearance of promising startups such as Hulu, Age of Learning, Snapchat and Scopely, not to mention high visibility exits and IPOs such as Maker Studio, EdgeCast and the Rubicon Project. In fact, Los Angeles is ranked third among 20 international startup ecosystems based on levels of funding, startup numbers, company performance and entrepreneur demographics.

As in the Bay Area, this upward tick in the LA tech sector shows no signs of slowing down. In Q1 of this year alone, Southern California saw nearly $763 million in VC investments. Plus, there's been a noticeable growth in local incubators and accelerators, with 45-percent of those opening within the past three years. Which means engineers can not only start their careers in LA, but also count on opportunities for advancement in the future.

So if you have a passion for media, software, consumer web, ecommerce, adtech, mobile, and B2B web--LA's primary industries--there's plenty of opportunity to avoid the exodus up north. And plenty of benefits as well, the first being a much lower cost of housing.

Indeed, San Francisco's rent is more than three times the national average, with a median around $3200 per month. Compare that to the average rent of about $2300 in Santa Monica, the most expensive place to rent in Southern California. Plus, Santa Monica--and Venice--offer the beach lifestyle, not to mention a growing tech community that includes companies like Dollar Shave Club and Brighter.

Then of course there's the warmer weather, and the opportunity to work with market-leading companies that offer salaries comparable to those in the Bay Area. These companies want local talent to help them fill the top five open positions: Back End, Mobile, Front End, Generalist and Dev Ops. Southern California incubators are also interested in helping local talent, so they will help promising college grads find places to start and build their own companies.

If you're a startup looking to hire local talent, there are a few things you can do to attract great candidates. For one, maintain a presence at university job fairs, and host on-site events to show off the office and culture. Also, consider offering the services of a rental agent to help find convenient housing, and if possible, provide shuttles or other quick and easy transit options. Because if there's one drawback to living in LA, it's the constant traffic, and helping to alleviate that stress point will give great talent even more reason to stay down south.

Eric Larson is a Partner at Riviera Partners, where he is responsible for executive level searches in the company's retained practice in both Northern and Southern California, with a focus on growing business in the Los Angeles area. He has more than 20 years of experience in building public and venture-backed technology companies. Eric lives in Westlake Village with his wife and five kids, and is actively involved in several local business and civic organizations.