In the financial world, the term "alpha" is meant to signify a measure of performance that is adjusted for risk. But how do we measure risk in the real world? Are some entry-level jobs in start-ups more or less risky than others? How can we know when we've found a winner, that coveted "diamond in the ruff"?
Some may say that it is nearly impossible to assess the risks of any new venture considering the volatility of markets, the unpredictable nature of competition, and the influence of shear luck and ingenuity. While some of that may be true, there are certainly places that have been historically more successful than others: the Silicon Valley specifically. But for the last decade or more, the Valley has seen stiff competition, with distinguished post-grad jobs popping up across the nation (and the world).
I would argue that Indiana is one of the places most suited for companies hiring new grads to establish their roots: our cost of living is significantly lower than other states; our central location within the US places almost any major city within a day's drive; and Indiana has managed to keep its state and local government budgets contained while others have moved even closer to bankruptcy.
And these advantages have not gone unnoticed by the entrepreneurial community: Start-Up Indiana is focused on developing high-growth start-ups in the region; Indianapolis now has its own start-up newsletter, Startup Digest, a free service helping entrepreneurs find events that might peak their interests; and the Orr Fellowship which is aimed at finding and growing tomorrows business leaders through placement in entry-level positions in entrepreneurial companies. All of these initiatives are great examples of organizations driving jobs and opportunity within Indiana and sewing the seeds of growth and fortune.
So when thinking about how to evaluate job opportunities, remember to find those places that minimize the risk of failure and maximize the chances of success. Look to the local community and their support for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Ask questions. Seek guidance. And most importantly, do all you can to maximize the alpha in your life and career.