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Thread: Entry-Level Jobs in Michagan

  1. #1
    Jan 2005
    The Gamma Quadrant

    Entry-Level Jobs in Michagan

    I would like to get thoughts from folks out there who have experienced trying to find an entry level planning job in this Michigan job market in the last few years. After spend much time and energy looking for employment in a planning oriented position here, I started applying for jobs out of state. I was born and raised in this greatest of great lake states, and I love my home. Can anyone help explain to me why jobs in the planning field are so few and far in between in Michigan?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally posted by big_g
    Can anyone help explain to me why jobs in the planning field are so few and far in between in Michigan?
    Being born and raised in Michigan (but not a planner), I can imagine that the only markets for planning would be limited to the larger (growing) cities like: Lansing, Jackson, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and the like. Try looking at the college towns, as there are always housing and planning issues in these locations. I cannot guess as to why there would be a lack of entry level positions. Much of southern and Northern Mich is still agricultural with limited growth would be my guess.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
    Jul 2002
    In the bike lane
    Welcome, Big_G from the southwest corner of the mitten state. Where (in general terms) in Michigan are you living. I know that on Planning and Zoning Center there are a couple entry level jobs posted. Also check the Eastern Michigan University Department of Planning website they have a few entry level jobs list. Also the City of Grand Rapids currently has an entry level job opening.

    Anyhow, back to your question. With budget cuts in many communities across the state, many communities are not rehiring entry level planners or they are only hiring within current city staff. As entry level planners move around for higher jobs they are shifting the work load to save money.

    I got my first job through a city that was not hiring. They hired me an an intern. What I'm saying is just sent out a bunch of letters and resumes and hopefully one will bit. Maybe you did that but don't stop trying.

    Good luck

  4. #4
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Feb 2002
    Hi there! I swear I got lucky with my job. They wanted a bachelors with three years experience - I had a masters with less than one year experience (and those were only internships). I got the job, and five years later, I still love it.

    What part of the state do you live? Do you have a preference as to where you would want to live? Do you have a preference for public or private sector, or either one?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Dashboard's avatar
    Dec 2002
    The Basement
    I remember for the longest time during the last few years, planning jobs in general in Michigan were scarce, let alone entry level jobs - but I think it is starting to pick up a little bit. Obviously, the budget crisis that many Michigan communities has played into it. Also, townships in Michigan are much more powerful than in other states. However, most townships do not have their own planning departments. Instead they use consultants. In municipalities that do have planning departments, most are not that big. There are very few large planning departments in the state and most are staffed with people who have been working there a while. With that in mind, it can be a bit tougher to get a foot in the door. Private firms are quite prevalent, especially in SE Michigan - and there are at least one or two that are seemingly always hiring. I guess that could be good or bad.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    It is not only in Michigan that the jobs are scarce. It is a problem throughout the upper states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, etc. Most parts of these states do not have the growth to justify large planning staffs, and turnover is not very high. I have known many planners who have gotten their start in Florida or Arizona or another high-growth area, then returned in a couple years when they had some experience.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Feb 2004
    on my 15 minute break
    I don't get the impression that jobs are any more scarce here than elsewhere. Thanks to township level government Michigan actually has more planning jobs than most (some townships have their own planners and others contract out). That said, you're right, its tough to find a job.

    I think the Planning and Zoning Center usually has posts for some entry level jobs. You might try there.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  8. #8
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    May 2005
    Metro Detroit
    I worked for a consultant in SE Michigan for about a year and a half after getting my bachelors in Public Administration. I had two planning-related internships that allowed me to get this position. To be honest, I feel I was very lucky to get the job. However, it was a very small firm, and I was let go due to lack of work. It then took me about 20 months to find my current job. During this time, I completed my Masters degree in planning and probably interviewd at around 15 places through the southern half of lower michigan. Like others have said, government budget cuts have had an affect. But I also think there is a great deal of competition for the jobs that are available. I can't tell you how many times I was told that I was one of two or three finalists, that we were both highly qualified, but that it was something such as my enthusiam that did not get me the job. It is a very competitive job market for planners in Michigan. There are plenty of people that have the education and experience. The key is showing them why you are the right person for the job. Your enthusiam, your knowledge of the community, and (this is the key) your willingness to relocate, even if this means across the state, will help you get a job.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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