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Thread: Planning job with an MPA and journalism experience?

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    Planning job with an MPA and journalism experience?

    OK, so I am one of those fools who got laid off from a journalism career and wound up going back to graduate school without really thinking it through. I had a vague interest in urban planning and management, so I got an MPA - a planning degree was not available near my area and I couldn't move. The job I found, which paid my way through school was with a museum and involved some historic preservation work. I also have five years of experience writing and editing for newspapers - oftentimes covering planning issues like contentious annexation hearings and others. I have GIS and database skills as well.

    So, my question is, how can I spin my experience to appeal to a planning hiring manager? Is it worth the effort?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ccmcshan View post
    OK, so I am one of those fools who got laid off from a journalism career and wound up going back to graduate school without really thinking it through. I had a vague interest in urban planning and management, so I got an MPA - a planning degree was not available near my area and I couldn't move. The job I found, which paid my way through school was with a museum and involved some historic preservation work. I also have five years of experience writing and editing for newspapers - oftentimes covering planning issues like contentious annexation hearings and others. I have GIS and database skills as well.

    So, my question is, how can I spin my experience to appeal to a planning hiring manager? Is it worth the effort?

    I personally think getting the MPA may be more beneficial for you than the MUP since you have a wider variety of public agencies you can work for rather than just "planning" agencies. A lot of planners can end up doing grant writing. I've never done it, but I would guess someone with a journalism background could easily shift into this.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    An MPA is a very valuable degree imo to someone like myself with a BS in planning. Don't discount the MPA. So the first question is:

    1: What aspect of planning do you want to get into?
    2: Do you have any experience or internships?
    3: What are your "planning skills" i.e. what did you learn in school that can translate into a potential planning job.
    4: where are you looking?

    These are very basic questions. Have you started here yet?
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    An MPA is a very valuable degree imo to someone like myself with a BS in planning. Don't discount the MPA. So the first question is:

    1: What aspect of planning do you want to get into?
    2: Do you have any experience or internships?
    3: What are your "planning skills" i.e. what did you learn in school that can translate into a potential planning job.
    4: where are you looking?

    These are very basic questions. Have you started here yet?
    Yes. I have started on some of these questions but you asking them again is very helpful.

    1. Mainly I am interested in Community and Economic Development, Land Use, and Historic Preservation. But I have been casting a wide net for smaller towns in hopes of landing a generalist position and working my way up.
    2. No direct planning experience or internships, but part of my current part-time job involves historic preservation and grant writing.
    3. I have solid but basic GIS skills, knowledgeable in public finance, and I have some project management experience. I can also write an organizational strategic plan and other reports in my sleep.
    4. Looking mainly in the Southeast, but willing to move wherever.

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    I'll agree with all of the comments regarding the value of the MPA. I got a MPA with a concentration in planning and development and it has paid off tremendously. My goal was to go into a planning related field, but it took me about a year and a half to land a job. In the meantime, I was able to use the broader skills of the MPA program to get a full-time job with a university. It wasn't my desired field, but it paid the bills. About 4 months ago, I was finally able to land the planning job. Again, my current employer liked both the general courses the MPA provided as well as the planning knowledge.

    I know it can be frustrating trying to get that first planning job. Hopefully you'll find the MPA was a valuable investment.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Have you considered working for a Main Street Program? Grant writing and historic preservation are two skill sets that are helpful to have. You should be able to spin your journalism background to help with promotion activities.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ccmcshan View post
    Yes. I have started on some of these questions but you asking them again is very helpful.

    1. Mainly I am interested in Community and Economic Development, Land Use, and Historic Preservation. But I have been casting a wide net for smaller towns in hopes of landing a generalist position and working my way up.
    2. No direct planning experience or internships, but part of my current part-time job involves historic preservation and grant writing.
    3. I have solid but basic GIS skills, knowledgeable in public finance, and I have some project management experience. I can also write an organizational strategic plan and other reports in my sleep.
    4. Looking mainly in the Southeast, but willing to move wherever.
    Sounds like a good background. If I was hiring, I'd give you a look.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ccmcshan View post

    1. Mainly I am interested in Community and Economic Development, Land Use, and Historic Preservation. But I have been casting a wide net for smaller towns in hopes of landing a generalist position and working my way up.
    2. No direct planning experience or internships, but part of my current part-time job involves historic preservation and grant writing.
    3. I have solid but basic GIS skills, knowledgeable in public finance, and I have some project management experience. I can also write an organizational strategic plan and other reports in my sleep.
    4. Looking mainly in the Southeast, but willing to move wherever.
    You'll have to move wherever, but I think the enumerated is fine. You can get out of planning and be a city manager/administrator with that, as well as policy-type and - as above - you can promote/market and grant write. You'll do fine, as all the other threads on the site likely say as well for MPA.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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