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Thread: Break from planning

  1. #1

    Break from planning

    I need some advice...I'm hoping that you all can help me.

    Here is the situation...

    I have been out of graduate school for a little over a year (May 2004) and have been working full time since July 2004. I am very unhappy with my current situation and am looking at other alternatives. One of these is teaching english overseas. But I am concerned that if I am away from the planning world for a couple of years that I will not be able to find a job when I return.

    What are your thoughts on this? Has anyone taken a "break" from planning and successfully returned?

    Thanks for the advice, hope to hear from you!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    I took a break after a very unhappy work experience. I planned on being out for only a little while, then ended up having to move to get a planning job. It was almost 2 years from quit to hire. Granted, I waited about 3 months to start looking, and it took Houston 3 months to process my application and make an offer, so it could have been only 1.5 years if I hadn't waited.

    I'm about to face another break. I'm moving, and have to quit my job. I don't want to be out of work, or out of planning, but we'll see what pops up. It helps to have contacts to keep you informed.

    I'd say if you're really unhappy, and you want to take a break, do it. It's early enough in your career path that you can take the hit. If you are still worried about taking the break, and especially if you're not sure how long you'll be out of the field, try looking for another planning position. Maybe it's the place, not the field, that's the problem.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I took a break to try my hand at being a retail site analyst. I hated it.

    What is bad about your current situation? You need to askif it is bad because of the place, or because of the nature of the work itself. Either way, is a break from planning really going to help? If you have found that you do not like planning then you need to think about a more permanent change. If you like planning but not what you are doing, or where you are doing it, then changing that may be what you need to do rather than leave the field for a time.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    I looked at getting back in after a few years of City Administration. I had several interviews and no offers. I did not inquire if it was because I was out of planning or because city administration pays better. Probably a combination of the two, I explained in the interviews that I keep up with Planning trends via conferences, literature and the internet. An employer would have to wonder if a high paying city admin job came around if I would jump ship.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  5. #5
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I was promoted into management at my previous job, where I managed the Engineering Review process. A planner managing engineers is not a good idea solely on the reason that engineers don't want to work for a planner. Worst work-related year of my life. Needless to say at the end of that year I asked to be demoted to get back into planning. The City had no problem switching me back to planning. Then I moved here a few months after that.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    If

    If you are able to make the change without too much difficulty (wife/kids/mortgage...) I'd say do what makes you happy and don't worry about it...There will always be planning jobs if you decide to come back
    Skilled Adoxographer
    I have two emotions....Silence and Rage

  7. #7
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    It is not at all uncommon for a planner to experience "burn-out" and seek a hiatus. One of our former planners left his job to concentrate on free-lance writing and photography full-time. I have his job now.

    There will always be another planning job available if you decide to come back to the profession. A broadening of your life experience might be considered an asset to a future employer.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  8. #8

    Break from planning

    Thank you to everyone who replied to my thread. It has given me some things to think about.

    The problem is that I am unhappy with both my job and my location. I don't want to leave the planning profession, but am having a hard time finding another job. When you send out resumes, follow-up, and never hear anything from anyone, well, it gets frustrating. I am not sure if it is harder because I want to make the move to the private side of things, but I have also applied to local governments as well, with no luck.

    Anyway, again, thank you all for your advise and words of wisdom!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    I don't know if this is allowed in the forums, but...
    Where are you in Florida, and what type of planning have you done?
    Mabey someone can direct you to a better situation.

  10. #10

    Break from planning

    I'm in South Florida. The problem is that what I want to do and what I am currently doing don't have a whole lot in common.

    I'm mostly interested in transportation and land use planning, their interactions, how they affect each other. Assessing current land use conditions, analysis of impacts of transportation projects/investment on land use, etc. I also enjoy GIS work, but don't want to do it 8 hours a day.

    My concentration was in transportation planning and I think I have a fairly good understanding of the field(s), but how do you get that across when you don't have experience doing it???

    There is actually a position open right now at a consulting firm that I am very interested in, right location, doing what it is that I am interested in. I hate to play the wait and see if they will contact you game. This job, my first in planning, came to me very easy, so I have never really had to work it for a job before.

    Anyone have any advice on the best way to make an impression when the only contact you are given is an HR person? Is the best way to call up and ask if there is anyone there who I could speak to regarding the position? I just don't know.

    Again, THANKS everyone!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Did you get an interview? It is good practice to call back the guy who interviewed you after a few days and ask for the status on the position, if you could send something or provide more references, or just ask for feedback in general. If they filled the position, then ask for feed back, sometimes you might get an honest answer. In my book, South Florida is an easy place to get a planning job. However, a planning job in transportation without any experience, might be a harder sell. You could get just a planning job and show your intrest in the transportation side, do the extra time to show your interest. This could get you utilized on transportation projects, and some needed experience.

  12. #12

    How to get an interview

    No interview, that is what I am trying to do/get. Just getting a name beyond the HR person is hard. I left a message with the HR person, but am not sure what the appropriate length of time is before I should call again. Where do you cross the line from seeming enthusiastic to being an annoyance?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I would not do this, but others suggest it.

    Identify a few firms/situaitons you'd like to work in. Then contact those firms for an "information" interview to see if a management person is willing to give you the time to explain the field better and possibly provide you wioth leads or suggestions for how to get a job in the field you want.

    As for the whole follow up on an interview thing, I tend to not do anything, but the job market and attitudes here are such that even if you interview you don't even get PFO's back
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  14. #14
    Cyburbian sisterceleste's avatar
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    Shouldn't be too hard to get a transportation entry level planner position in the consulting world. Once in, they will work you to death. Ususally firms are crying for transportation planners esp. with GIS experience.
    My advice is to get a job with FDOT and glen everything you can in a year or two and make the leap to the consulting world. FDOT is VERY good at training, not so good in pay and morale. Get the training and leave to the bigger bucks.
    You darn tootin', I like fig newtons!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Take any opportunity to explore all your options.
    As you go through life there will always be other choices.Take them and enjoy the journey.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    If you do decide to take a break from planning in general and you decide to stay in Florida, just keep up with the GM laws every year. But as SC said, you should not have any difficulty with an entry level transportation job.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    It sounds like you are more interested in consulting jobs, but if you're considering government jobs there are a ton right now on the Florida APA website: http://www.floridaplanning.org/jobs2.asp

    We seem to always need more planners, and I know that we look a bit closer at people who have been out of the profession for a time. But, let's face it, there is such a competition for planners right now in Florida that we'd never let that be an issue as long as the individual didn't give the impression that they may leave the field again in the near future.

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