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Thread: Career/education advice - southeast US

  1. #1
    Jun 2005
    Kennesaw, GA

    Career/education advice - southeast US

    Hello all Cyburbians,

    I'm a 30 year old software support engineer in the Atlanta area going through a "quarter life crisis". To make a long story short, I am interested in finding a way to transition into the planning profession, possibly in a GIS, economic development, or transportation planning role. Working in a sector that isn't offshoring outside the US and enables me to help shape the future of our communities is looking increasingly appealing.

    Here is a little background on me ... I have 6 years of experience in the application software industry, which has become extremely volatile and less lucrative than when I started out in 1999. I have a B.A. in Economics and an M.S. in Computer Information Systems, and consider myself to be skilled analytically and as a writer and researcher. Also from working within a large organization, I'm aware of bureaucratic environments and the need to accommodate many points of view and sources of information rather than just pushing my own agenda. I've traveled to many areas across the US and have always been intrigued by their different development patterns and the policies (or lack thereof) that they've followed in their growth.

    Does anyone have experience with Masters of Planning programs in the Southeast US? It would be helpful to know about the program's areas of specialization, research projects, internships, and post-graduate placement. I'm aware of many online resources but am interested in getting some personal insights. Other advice related to the planning profession in general would also be most welcomed.

    Thanks for your input!!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    Is there some tie-in to the work you do now? I know a banker who used his knowledge of finance to switch into economic development as a business development specialist. Another was a marketer who started her own business to develop tourism and economic development marketing campaigns for cities. Maybe there is a similar niche you can explore. Planning and economic development are very broad fields and there is room in them for people from almost any background.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Mar 2005
    North Carolina
    i'm going to be starting at UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall. i hear it's a great program, but obviously can't yet speak from direct experience. i hear Georgia Tech has a good program too. those are the two names i hear most often re: southeastern schools. i know you said you've already seen the websites, but i know unc's is at least a very detailed source for info on their specializations. this probably hasn't been too helpful. post again after the fall and i'll give you an earfull. = )
    Last edited by RadioAgony; 19 Jun 2005 at 3:36 PM.

  4. #4

    Georgia Tech

    Hey- I went to Georgia Tech and had an excellent experience. I have worked with a few other young planners who went to different schools (not in the southeast) and do not seem to be as prepared for the field as my classmates and I are. However, I don't mean this as a slam- just my personal experience.

    Also, Arthur (Chris) Nelson has started a department at Virginia Tech. Although it's a new program and sure to have a few bugs- he is an excellent professor. (He used to teach at GTech)

    Georgia Tech has just hired a new transportation professor and an additional real estate development professor. They also have a good integration with the Georgia State law school program.

    Georgia Tech is weak in the urban design field, though. If you are interested in that program, I recommend not going to GTech.

    They have a strong GIS department, and I recommend talking to Steve French and Mutu if you are interested in their department. Make an appointment, though! They are busy

    Hope this helps some- I, too, went through a quarter life crisis and came into planning. I've had some bumps (like everyone) but am very happy with the life change. Good luck and welcome to the club!

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