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In response to: ONCE OUT, FOREVER OUT? posted by DOUGLAS REED on July 22, 2000 at 17:51:56:

DUE TO ECONOMIC REASONS, I AM TAKING AN ENTRY-LEVEL POSITION WITH A LAW FIRM IN THE AREA THAT I LIVE IN. I WOULD LOVE TO CONTINUE MY PLANNING CAREER, BUT I DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY TO PURSUE OR RELOCATE TO OTHER CITIES FOR EMPLOYMENT. ALSO, I MADE THE TRAGIC MISTAKE OF LEAVING MY SMALL-TOWN PLANNING POSITION WITHOUT FINDING SUITABLE EMPLOYMENT TO REPLACE IT. I HAVE MADE MISTAKES AND WILL LEARN FROM THOSE LESSONS AT FUTURE POSITIONS. I WENT TO PLANNING SCHOOL TO BE A PROFESSIONAL, BUT HAVE REACHED A STANDSTILL IN MY CAREER PURSUIT. MY QUESTION IS: WILL I BE SCREWED FOR LIFE IF I TAKE A YEAR OFF TO PURSUE OTHER EMPLOYMENT? ALSO, HOW CAN I BEST LAUNCH MYSELF BACK INTO THE PROFESSION LONG-TERM, IN ADDITION TO READING UP ON ISSUES, JOINING THE APA, AND GOING TO PUBLIC HEARINGS? I AM 30 AND I AM SCARED TO DEATH THAT I AM GOING TO BE A TEMP WORKER FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP.

Take a deep breath and calm down.

Personally, I think experience in separate but related fields, like construction, code enforcement, transportation, and especially law, is extremely valuable to planners. But do keep up your contacts, and try to maintain your credentials. If you aren't already an AICP and you are eligible to take the test, do it. Even though planners disagree about the real value of AICP, it at least demonstrates your commitment to the profession, as well as a certain level of knowledge.
Also, reconsider relocation. There are tons of entry-level planning jobs in certain parts of the U.S. If you really want to work in planning, maybe you can't afford not to relocate.