Editor’s Note: Actually, Millennials like Dallas just fine.
Last month marked the three-year anniversary of my move to Dallas. The night I moved in to my Design District apartment was the same night that the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge opened to great fanfare. I watched the fireworks light up the sky from the top of our parking garage and felt the same surge of excitement and promise that I used to feel when overlooking New York City from Brooklyn rooftops.
Months earlier, I nearly turned down a job offer because I had no desire to live in Dallas. I was pursuing a job in Austin (which I did not get) but they offered me the opportunity to meet with their Dallas office as there was a similar position available there. I hesitantly agreed, figuring that even though Dallas was nowhere on my list of places I wanted to live, San Antonio and I had run our course and I was desperate for something new.
Fast forward to current day and I have become a full-blown Dallasite. I’ve made so many friends and met so many people with similar stories: “Dallas was nowhere on my radar and then I was transferred here/had an opportunity/dragged against my will and now I love it!”
I heard this story time and time again (and still do). For the first two years of my time here, I was heavily involved with a group of people—all new to Dallas, that referred to themselves as the Dallas Transplants. We came from places like Tucson, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. We worked in technology, PR, marketing, travel, and nonprofit. We looked like a real-life version of those college advertisements where every racial group is happily smiling and hanging out together. It was a diverse group of 20 something millennials that grew organically—someone would bring in a new friend and we would get together for brunch, happy hours, and epic nights of karaoke.
But what we mostly did was fall in love with Dallas, together.
We discovered the amazing arts scene, attending gallery openings at the Dallas Contemporary, shows in Deep Ellum, and block parties in the Arts District. We attended major league football, basketball, hockey, and soccer games. We spent one too many blurry nights in Uptown and enjoyed slow evenings that went from happy hour, to dinner, to post-dinner drinks along Lower Greenville. We dusted off our high school French books and made our way to Bastille Day in Bishop Arts. We travelled by planes, trains, and automobiles to music festivals.
Perhaps that’s why I get so frustrated when I read articles like this one that despite quoting stats and numbers, failed to talk to or quote an actual millennial who is living and working in Dallas. It’s frustrating to have others speak on our behalf and only share part of the story—the part of the story that says because large corporations are struggling to recruit us, we just aren’t into Dallas. My experience says something very different. (Anyone ever consider that maybe these corporate recruiters just don’t get millennials?)
So I decided that I would write a different kind of article. I would start by talking to millennials and listen to their perspectives and stories. Through this, I’ve met incredible, inspiring people who are taking this city by storm. But they aren’t working with major corporations, vying for that corner office: they are building their own companies, creating their own ideas of success, and pursuing happiness on their own terms. Millennials aren’t fleeing for the coasts, and we’re not rushing to the C-suite either. We’re here, working, creating, and building. We’re hiding in plain sight, doing things our way.
Next week Launch DFW is bringing some of these stories to the forefront. I hope that this feature will spark an ongoing conversation about what Dallas is doing right and how we can continue to grow and cultivate the next generation of creative and technical talent that is in our own backyard.
If you are a millennial living, working, and playing in the DFW metroplex (including Denton!) we’d love to hear from you and share your story. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.