Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Planning or Policy? THAT'S THE QUESTION.

  1. #1
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Edmonton via T-Dot & LA
    Posts
    121

    Planning or Policy? THAT'S THE QUESTION.

    Of course some of you have seen my posts here about getting a job in planning. I have shown my frustration at times and maybe in the wrong direction. At my age, you get more desperate and volunteering isn't really an option although I have time but no patience because I want to make some cash.

    In any event since I am still not working in the field, I've decided to rethink some of the qualifications I have to be a "planner" as opposed to some one who knows more about policy.

    Here's my dilemma. When I went to school for the 2nd time, I bypassed all the courses such as introductory studio which dealt more with land use plans, site planning and all the "technical" side of planning. The only course I took was a basic theory course on community planning (at another school) and then got further understanding of the basic terminology through planning law. I never took CAD, never drafted a site/subdivision plan and dabbled in GIS. I have been told that you learn on the job. But when applying to some entry-level planner positions, some suggest planner I is the first step, others say junior planner/planning assistant is the 1st step towards a planning career. I guess it depends on what city/town/region, agency or firm you apply to. I have applied to these positions but somewhat reluctantly not because I don't want to do it but feel I am wasting my time but because I won't know everything. Furthermore because they always list X years of experience which of course as the old adage says " how can you get experience if they're not willing to give it to you."

    Then there's policy. Of course I have a degree in public admin and took some course through my second degree based on policy analysis and evaluation. There's one school of thought that in order to do policy, you have to learn the technical side of planning so you can fully understand the policy behind it. The other side is that since I have all this policy schooling behind me, then just apply for policy-related positions. Of course the only policy I know is related to transportation, housing, and immigration.

    Then it was suggested to me from a fellow alumni to look at economic development. It's true have taken some business courses, worked in investments (administration only) and understand regional policy yet I have never taken an "economic development" course. But looking some of the job descriptions for an EC officer and some of the courses to get your EC. D designation, it's all about research, marketing, understanding business needs, which is pretty easy I find.

    After sending out my resume just to get "A JOB" for now, and now reading that's not a real good idea through these resume books I have downloaded, I am caught in this rethinking dilemma.

    This ain't no Dear Abby but sounds like it huh?

    So to all you Cyburbians, what's your take on this? I know it's Friday the weather's nice, at least in Toronto it is, and some of you will be playing. So let me hear your thoughts! Thanks!
    Last edited by andreplanner; 03 Jun 2005 at 9:00 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,920
    I would choose Option D, All of the above. Cast your net widely when looking for that first job. In your next search you can narrow it down, based upon the skills you acquire and those things you have found you enjoy the most.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 2001
    Location
    skating on thin ice
    Posts
    6,958
    My suggestionis that if you really want to be a planner, take any job that will get your foot in the door (plannign assistant, zonign administrator, site plan reviewer etc) at a place where there is potential.

    The past 3 years I have gone from living in a small place, as director, to being aplanner in a smaller place to being a planner 1 in a large fast growing place. this is with nearly 10 years of experience.

    I have to agree that I think the best policy people have a strong fundamental background in development review, especially if you are going to be writing Offical Plans and Zonign By-law revisions.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  4. #4
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Posts
    3,740
    I think if you have an solid understanding of land use policy and its legal and theoretical context you should be fine in the planning profession. There really isn't some sort of dividing line between policy and planning. Planning, whether regionally or local, is essentially the creation of public policy ideas. In this context a plan is no more than a framework for decision-making. Sure there are technical aspects to the profession that require some specialized knowledge. But it all comes down to policy IMO, and understanding this will help you realize the intent of complex regulations and policies (though sometimes this is difficult I'm afraid).

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    My take on it: Get your feet wet, find out what jibes, and go from there. Oh, wait, Cardinal already covered this. Oops.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    203
    My dept seems like we are always hiring people right out of school, i.e. no experience whatsoever. (We don't pay starting planners very well...) So we don't expect them to know how to do everything, and figure they'll leave in a year or two once they do get some experience. We really just look for a willingness to learn, and not someone who acts like they are above doing a site review or a simple variance application (you have to start somewhere, but you'd be surprised at the attitudes of some new planners!) I can't imagine jumping right into making policy decisions, but that background would be helpful later when you are a planning director. IMO, economic development is boring, but then I never liked economics in school. (By the way, our job listings always request experience, but we never get anyone with it so don't get discouraged by the boilerplate job listings). Hang in there!!!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Edmonton via T-Dot & LA
    Posts
    121
    I know it all boils down to experience but the thing here is that they are really tight on that "experience" without the willingness to train as opposed to here in Toronto. Of course I'll be wet behind the ears and eager to get that experience. I am more anxious to get the foot in the door.

    Hey I am not gung ho on economics either but it's not all about economics from what I have researched. Ya there's certain topics like theory of the firm, shift-share analysis and other theories behind economic development but who's to say you'll use them. I know it's more about marketing and promoting what your city/town/region has to offer. Plus you have to do the background search and provide it to businesses that want to come into your area. The reason why I fit in is because I've already taken a bunch of business courses and worked in investments for almost 4 yrs. So I was kind of exposed to that environment. I got bored of that industry because I wasn't going anywhere and wasn't too interested in taking courses I didn't like.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. MPA in urban policy and planning
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 24
    Last post: 12 Apr 2011, 2:34 PM
  2. Replies: 5
    Last post: 06 Aug 2010, 12:05 PM
  3. Replies: 0
    Last post: 27 Sep 2009, 3:10 PM
  4. Replies: 7
    Last post: 19 Dec 2006, 1:48 PM
  5. Planning and Policy
    Student Commons
    Replies: 8
    Last post: 28 Sep 2004, 4:24 PM