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Thread: Experience before Masters?

  1. #1
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    Experience before Masters?

    Hi everyone,

    I know that I want to get a Master's in Urban/City Planning, but I'm not financially prepared to do that for another year or two. All of the entry level planning positions in my area (South Florida) seem to require a Master's degree or prior experience. Does anyone have an idea of how I can get planning-related experience before I get a degree? I work full time as an accountant so I don't have time during the day to volunteer anywhere.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    You could look for an internship; but I would strongly suggest getting a Master's, I went into the workforce upon bachelor's degree graduation with the intent of getting a masters after a few years and now, 20 years later, still have not done it - I believe I am the last generation that squeaked into the profession without one and still managed to do okay, but imho, you do need one now

  3. #3
    You might try to get appointed to a Planning Commission or Zoning Board to get some experience that way (and it's the hard way, trust me). Failing that, you really do need to take the Master's plunge as luckless pedestrian has suggested if you don't already have a BS in planning or a closely related field.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Part Time....

    Take two graduate classes in Planning at Florida Atlantic University Downtown (night class), can be taken as non-graduate degree seeking for now. You should be eligible for in state tuition, so that's good and the campus is central which should help. Do well in the classes and continue to send your application in for every entry level planning job within 40 miles of campus, until you land a job. Focus on your willingness to do the "grunt" work at the counter and learn the code quickly while interviewing. Make it clear you will continue to attend graduate school while working and that should help land your first job. Don't focus on finance stuff or number crunching, focus on generalist stuff and willingness to be the "jack of all trades" in the department or that you will focus on what they need.

    Just my two cents.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    After I researched and talked to people and decided I wanted to be a planner, I just took the plunge and went to grad school. I found the same thing you did- so many jobs were looking for Master's degrees. In a lot of places you need one to obtain a senior position anyway.

    Talk to some people, find out if you can get on a committee and go back to school. Spending two years back at school was one of the best things I ever did. A lot of work, true, but it was a lot of fun.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
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    I got my masters degree at Florida State University a few years ago. When I arrived they gave me a graduate assistantship that paid my tuition and gave me a small stipend. I wasn't able to live great but it helped.

    After my assistantship was over, I was able to find a part time job that paid for my second year of school.

    Give it a shot now if you can.
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Attend as many public meetings/hearings as possible until your situation changes the way you want it to.
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  8. #8
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    I think the suggestions of being on a Planning Commission are great; but even attending Planning Commission and City Council meetings will provide you with good insight; plus, you'd be allowing yourself to be known by staff willing to hire you on (or they be able to put you in contact with some other place).

    Also, I would recommend that you search for jobs that are planning-related; like a City's tourism office or an assistant in the local economic development office. Maybe there's an agency which municipalities turn to, that you can apply for like the state lottery office that disperses grant-monies to communities. That way, though you're not planning, per se, you've diversified yourself to the point that a municipality will be willing to hire you on because you can demonstrate how grant processes work; or show how a tourism-promotion element works, etc.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Although I'm in the community development world instead of planning, I went the route of getting a Master's degree right out of undergrad, and it's been a tough road. I had this notion that I'd be a hot property with an advanced degree, and that someone would scoop me right up. It didn't happen... I even had two internships during grad school. While I managed to score emplyoment via a one-year grant funded position at the CDC where I interned, prior to that I interviewed at multiple organizations and was turned down by all of them due to a lack of real-world experience. There's no easy path. BTW, the Senior Project Manager whom I share an office with has a BA and is doing quite well, sans graduate degree. YMMV.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    warning, wise a$$ response:

    I don't know, I think I'd be leary of someone who hung out at Planning Board meetings just for the experience...

    RJ, help me out here...

  11. #11
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    warning, wise a$$ response:

    I don't know, I think I'd be leary of someone who hung out at Planning Board meetings just for the experience...

    RJ, help me out here...
    Okay, here are my 2 cents, lp.
    It’s the stuff that goes on behind closed doors the really matters; wish I was there, well, sometimes I am. Argh!! It’s like making sausage; you don’t want to see it made. That’s the way of the world.
    Me? Every day on the job I experience or learn something new (remember, Rumpy works for me and made the plumbing leak today). Public hearings? All bets are off. Every one is different. Ya never really know for sure. But it's fun that way….I think. But I could be wrong.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by fort lauderdale love View post
    Hi everyone,

    I know that I want to get a Master's in Urban/City Planning, but I'm not financially prepared to do that for another year or two. All of the entry level planning positions in my area (South Florida) seem to require a Master's degree or prior experience. Does anyone have an idea of how I can get planning-related experience before I get a degree? I work full time as an accountant so I don't have time during the day to volunteer anywhere.
    I'm not sure where you are job hunting (maybe only in Ft Lauderdale), but there certainly some entry level jobs in Florida that only ask for a bachelor's (with a Masters and experience preferred but not required). Here's a link to the Florida job boards if you haven't already found it: http://www.floridaplanning.org/jobs2.asp

    I don't know too many jurisidictions in Florida that aren't advertising, just finished advertising, or about to advertise for staff because we are all scrambling to keep up with the new state regs. Even DCA in Tallahassee keeps giving their job pitch at every single conference I go to. Don't get intimidated by the "Master Degree preferred" stuff - everyone takes that they get right now!!!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    This is the second job since my Under Grad, and this one pays for part of Grad School. So I am doing both, full time. Not recommended unless you’re single, because you may end up that way.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  14. #14
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    thanks

    Thanks for all the responses! I think right now I'm going to focus on getting involved with my neighborhood association while I keep looking for a planning-related job.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by solarstar View post
    Even DCA in Tallahassee keeps giving their job pitch at every single conference I go to. Don't get intimidated by the "Master Degree preferred" stuff - everyone takes that they get right now!!!
    Actually I heard they're cleaning house at DCA now that Crist is coming in

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