Bonnie Pfister

Rehka Shukla is comfortable living and working across cultures. Born in India but raised in Wisconsin, she studied East Asian economic and political development in New York before heading to Thailand to work in the nonprofit sector. But when she and her journalist husband decided to start a family 15 years ago, they looked for a place back in the United States where they could continue work with an international bent AND afford to raise a family. That led them to Mount Lebanon, a suburban community just several light-rail stops south of downtown.

“You have this image of Pittsburgh having been this smoky, oppressive urban environment,” Shukla said. “It (is) anything but that.”

Shukla and her family love the region for its rich outdoor amenities, theater and other cultural events and a warm circle of friends – some life-long residents, others equally “new” to the region.

You learn more by watching Shukla’s video below, or reading her Neighbor profile on ImaginePittsburgh.com, a virtual concierge that highlights work, play and live options in the 10-county region. You can read about other Neighbors, look for a job among the tens of thousands gathered by our powerful job aggregator, sign up for updates about the region through our social media channels or RRS feeds and take the “Find Yourself in Pittsburgh!” quiz to be matched up with Neighbors who may share your interests and have tips on what’s fun and engaging to do in the region.

Meredith Fahey

PierogieFeaturePittsburgh is home to pierogies. I mean the little cabbage or potato and cheese stuffed pasta pockets run around PNC Park during every home Pirates game. Pierogies were also featured on the cover of November’s Pittsburgh magazine; it seems like the city is in a bit of a pierogie craze. To Pittsburghers, this is nothing new, but to a newcomer this love affair may seem odd — isn’t it just a ravioli?

Actually the pierogie isn’t really a craze but a long-standing staple of Pittsburghers’ diets, dating from the strong eastern European heritage of those who came to work in the mills generations ago. And that’s just one of many things newcomers learn at Pittsburgh’s Dine Arounds.

In a broader effort to extend the welcome past hello and connect people, Vibrant Pittsburgh, the World Affairs Council and Pop City Media have teamed up to host local Dine Arounds for newcomers. On Oct. 23 the second city-wide Dine Around was hosted various Pittsburgh families in homes from Mt. Washington to Highland Park in an effort to welcome newcomers to the city, to answer their questions about the little idiosyncrasies that make our region unique and to connect them to other newcomers. The Dine Arounds give hosts an opportunity to meet some of the many internationally minded folks who are moving to the region.

This time around, there was professional photography and a social media strategy to create buzz. And after dinner, everyone was invited for dessert at the Society of Contemporary Craft to meet the larger group and share their night’s experiences.

“The Dine Around is a great way to connect with interesting people, get to know different neighborhoods and begin to understand the city through the eyes of locals,” said Jon Neckers, a Michigan native, returned Peace Corps volunteer and recent graduate of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. “I’ve been here for three years now, but still feel like a newcomer. Everyone is friendly, but Pittsburgh can be a hard nut to crack.”

Connecting newcomers to locals through Dine Arounds is a unique strategy for a city that has struggled with diversity and talent attraction and retention. But there is good news: since 2008 more people have been moving to the region than leaving it, and in the past five years the number of 20- to 34-year-olds calling the region home grew by 7 percent. That figure is expected to grow by another 8 percent by 2020, according to economic forecasting by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research. This is good for a region with one of the oldest populations in the nation — and good for future Dine Arounds.

To put your name on the email list for the next Dine Around, visit  VibrantPittsburgh.org.

Meredith Fahey

ImaginePittsburgh.com, the Pittsburgh region’s go-to resource for job and career opportunities, has links to tens of thousands of jobs open right now. And through data analysis and focus groups, the ImaginePittsburgh team is able to identify the most in-demand jobs cited by the region’s employers.

As Laura Fisher, senior vice president of Workplace at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, notes, “Our economy is diverse and increasingly more knowledge-driven. This is evident in the types of jobs that are most in demand on our job search engine. STEM skills and expertise are increasingly important for many careers, but that doesn’t mean you need an advanced degree to get one of these jobs. Often some training beyond high school can make a big difference.”

Pittsburgh is the only region in the country to have developed a tool to gather all the jobs posted online into one searchable database. The job aggregator is the result of collaboration between the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and the Conference Board, a nonprofit based in New York. “Our aggregator pulls jobs from companies and job boards hiring in all 10 counties. This is a real benefit for employers seeking talent as well as for individuals looking to advance their careers with new opportunities.”

In the first week of November the site was tracking 20,800 open jobs across a variety of industries and occupations. By occupation, the five most in-demand categories are the software sector, engineering, IT in the financial services sector, industrial maintenance technicians, and nursing. Regional employers are particularly interested in individuals with information technology skills. A quick search on ImaginePittsburgh.com for anything IT-related yields dozens to hundreds of results. In the months to come, ImaginePittsburgh.com will be reaching out to IT professionals across the region and nation to make them aware of the career opportunities emerging here in this sector.

Bonnie Pfister

The ImaginePittsburgh.com job aggregator is more powerful than ever, scraping thousands of corporate websites and job search engines to find tens of thousands of jobs open now across the 10-county region. Here are a few of them:

Senior Director, Digital Business Technology @ Giant Eagle

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner 1, Magee-Womens Hospital @UPMC

Senior Trade Analyst @ PPG Industries

Financial Manager II @ PNC Financial Services, Inc.

Mechanical Engineer (Principal I) @ MSA, The Safety Company

Bookmark our Work page to check back regularly for new postings. You can also sign up for our monthly ImaginePittsburgh.com eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.

JobsFeature2

Phil Cynar

FeatureFuturePerfectPghEast will meet west – Pittsburgh and the Silicon Valley – next week when the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and ImaginePittsburgh.com team up for a tech-centric business development/talent attraction trip to the west coast, Nov. 11 – 12.

Future focused, Pittsburgh takes tech to the edge. It’s a significant hub for IT among east coast cities. Driving this is the presence of world-class universities such as Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, both of which fuel an ever-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in addition to providing a large talent pool for global tech brands. Google, IBM, ANSYS, Intel are just a few that have made a home in Pittsburgh. Cybersecurity, interactive entertainment, robotics, e-commerce, big data and SaaS are a sampling of the areas where Pittsburgh has made a mark.

While in California, the PRA will be doing what it does best – economic development marketing – by talking to west coast tech leaders and business investment influencers about Pittsburgh as the perfect place for an east coast IT satellite. The region’s top-rate talent pool, safe-from-natural-disaster location, Eastern Time Zone and years of experience in providing tech-driven global business support services are among the strengths the PRA will highlight. For California-based companies, Pittsburgh is a complement, not competition. And did we mention cost-effective? (We’ve got Boston, New York and D.C. beat in that category, hands down!)

At the same time, ImaginePittsburgh.com – the region’s “virtual concierge” for Pittsburgh’s plentiful live-work-play opportunities — will be telling tech talent in the Valley about the soft landing that the region can provide for those looking to make a career and/or life change. Money goes a long way here (yes, you can actually afford to buy a home in Pittsburgh), and talented individuals can go farther faster in their careers and advance within region’s famously supportive entrepreneurial environment. As ImaginePittsburgh.com’s tagline says, this is a place to “advance your career and build a life you’ll love.”

If you’re in the Silicon Valley or know tech types who work/live there, there’s a fun opportunity to learn more about Pittsburgh in person at a Nov. 12 “Future Perfect Pittsburgh Party” at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, 655 Mission St. We’ll be showcasing a sampling of Pittsburgh in this quirky venue – one of only three in the U.S. and a sister of the ToonSeum in Pittsburgh – from 6 – 8 p.m. Luke Skurman, CEO and founder of  Niche (one the U.S.’s largest online content startups) will share why Pittsburgh has worked for him. A San Francisco native, Pittsburgh stole his heart when he came here to attend CMU, and it’s proven itself a fertile ground for “living the dream” – professionally and personally.

Free food, drink, tech types and geeks. What’s not to like? Be there: Future Perfect Pittsburgh, Nov. 12, San Francisco! RSVP here.

Bonnie Pfister
Abby Bolton and husband Matthew Bolton are deeply engaged in Pittsburgh's creative scene. Credit Birchtree Photography.
Abby Bolton and husband Matthew Bolton are deeply engaged in supporting Pittsburgh’s creative scene. Credit Birchtree Photography.

Young entrepreneurs, artists and innovators are increasingly choosing the Pittsburgh region as a supportive, hip place where they can launch dream ventures and still afford to pay the rent.

Helping them and other young professionals to leverage their experience into regional leadership is the New Pittsburgh Collaborative. As NPC Board Chair Abby Bolton puts it, this active coalition of diverse, young-minded organizations creates a forum for partnership among groups, engagement around civic and policy issues, while building professional and community leadership skills for the young professionals involved.

“The New Pittsburgh Collaborative is a one-stop place to connect with diverse people and organizations and find your community engagement fit,” she says. She invites all to attend the NPC’s 10th anniversary party on Nov. 9 at Carnegie Mellon University’s STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. From 5-7 p.m., participants will discuss and prioritize what policy issues matter most to them as young leaders, then connect with others who share those priorities and interests. From 7-9 p.m. is party time with free food and drink to mix, mingle and celebrate 10 years of innovative collaborations for a better Pittsburgh. While admission is free, attendees should RSVP to npcannounce@gmail.com.

To learn more about Bolton, check out her Neighbor profile at ImaginePittsburgh.com, a virtual concierge that highlights the region’s great live, work and play options. Like the dozens of other Neighbors, she helps newcomers and natives alike find their way in the region. Surf around or take the “Find Yourself in Pittsburgh” quiz to be matched up with Neighbors who may share your interests and have tips on what’s fun and engaging to do in the region. Use the powerful job search aggregator featuring an annual average of more than 25,000 open jobs across the 10-county region to consider your next career move. And check out our Featured Employers to find out what jobs they’ve got open and what they’re looking for in the people they hire and promote.