Philadelphia is a thriving city filled with history, nightlife, and opportunities. In the last few years, more and more young professionals and recent college graduates have been choosing Philadelphia as their home (you’ll be able to find out exactly how many more when we release our Choosing Philadelphia report of recent college grads!). Philadelphia’s newest residents come from all over — some are native Philadelphians, others come from all over the East Coast, and still others are from countries outside of the United States — but all of them are happy to be able to call Philadelphia their home.
Hector Cotto is a recent college graduate who works for Bentley Systems, an Exton, PA-based company that provides “architects, engineers, geospatial professionals, constructions, and owner-operators with comprehensive software solutions for sustaining infrastructure” (bentley.com). Before working for Bentley Systems, Cotto attended Penn State University, where he majored in Labor Studies. He says that he decided to attend Penn State because “[it has] excellent academic offerings and such an expansive alumni network. I knew that I would benefit greatly from the resources available at such a large university; the student life didn’t hurt either.”
Cotto is from Reading, PA, a small city located an hour outside of Philadelphia. Upon starting his education at Penn State, Cotto became a psychology major. After taking a few classes and exploring his options, he decided that studying psychology was not for him, so he changed his major to Labor Studies.
Upon graduating in 2011, Cotto was looking for a job, and a Penn State connection recommended him to apply for a human resources internship at Bentley Systems. As an intern, one of the tasks he had to assist with was recruiting interns and college students, so he attended multiple career fairs at universities. While interning, the position of Benefits Coordinator became available and he was immediately offered the position. He accepted it and has been working there ever since. Cotto lives in Center City and has a one-hour commute to Exton on Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, he works at the Philadelphia office located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Because the city is pedestrian-friendly, Cotto is able to walk to work on these days.
He enjoys working in the Philadelphia area because of what the city has to offer. For Cotto, everything is within walking distance. On the day of the interview, Cotto and his intern grabbed lunch at DiNic’s located inside the Reading Terminal Market. Some of Cotto’s favorite things include the culture in Philadelphia and the professional opportunities. “I personally like to take advantage of the many different cultural festivals that occur throughout the year,” he says, while “professionally I have been able to network with multiple different groups relevant to my career path and establish relationships with different organizations and people throughout the city.” Whether it’s getting food, finding great deals during happy hour, or just taking a relaxing walk around the city, Philadelphia offers everything a young professional needs. “When I drive to work, I take a look at the [Philadelphia] skyline and still can’t believe that I live in this city.”
Transitioning from college to the working world involved a bit of adjustment for Cotto. Even though he adapted quickly, Cotto says that it was definitely different from the college life. He says that the hardest transition was getting used to not having the resources that were available in the residence halls. After graduating, he had to worry about paying cable, electric, and rent bills and waking up at 5:00 a.m. to arrive to work on time. As a college student, this was not something he had to worry about.
He gives college students three pieces of advice: “Be driven but do not let it stop you from enjoying your young life with family and friends. Do something that’s a little bit scary and take a chance on something big then learn from it… [and] learning to establish priorities and how to properly manage [your] resources is something that will remain important for the rest of [your] life.”