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Thread: Consultant's Reputation?

  1. #1
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    Consultant's Reputation?

    If anything can come of Mug's rants and some responses is for me to consider coming over to the private sector side. But I've heard conflicting stories on the subject ranging from exploitation and indentured servitude to planning nirvana.

    Anyone know anything about McKenna and Assoc., either from working with them to someone working for them? Their web pages make it sound like a good work environment ( if such a thing exists in the shadow of Detroit) but how much of that is PR? Same question for their performance at Planning.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Can you get in touch with some of their former clients and see what they thought of their work??

    I can tell you, the move to the private sector was the best thing that ever happened to me. I would've never thought that I would get the chance to do design engineering with a Geography degree, but I did, and now my professional experience has grown leaps and bounds from what it was a year ago.

    Government work I was just stuck doing the same thing over and over and over again. Never anything new, nothing different. Now I do something different every day. Every lot I grade is a work of art, as no 2 are alike (try not to puke ).

    Working in the private sector/consulting business there is are always new opportunities and projects to go with. It keeps the job interesting for me.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Ditto everything Mike said and then some. I miss the hell out of my former co-workers (we go out every now and then) but you couldn't pay me enough to go back to working for the city. Unless, of course, I'm the director.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I'd like to hear more about working in the private sector. I've heard conflicting stories ... either "a fantastic work environment" or "they ride you until you drop." A big salary won't make me happy if I'm still burdened by 50 to 60 hour workweeks.

    If I do go private, I'd prefer employment with a company where the majority of clients are local governments and public agencies, rather than private developers. I wouldn't enjoy being stuck in "due diligence," acting as a hired gun for Wal-Mart or T-Mobile.

    The folks I've met who work for Glatting Jackson in Orlando heap praise upon their employer, equating the workplace and its benefits to a late 1990s dot-com. Unfortunately, they aren't looking for any planners now.

    Why can't municipal governments have a similar work environment? Afraid of appearing "frivolous?"
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    I work for a small firm (a family business run by father and son)- one planner (me), one engineer and two draftsmen. Although my boss is a planner by education, he leaves all the planning jobs to me. Most of our work is through contracts with the local parish govts and the MPO. Although I've only been at this for a little less than a year (Dec will make a year), I haven't had to work any hellish hours or anything out of the ordinary (YET). i didn't leave for the money, I left for a change of pace and to get out of that repetitious rut of current planning. It's not like my city is booming in development and there were only so many conditional uses for child care centers and alcoholic beverage outlets I could evaluate before I began to crack.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    The folks I've met who work for Glatting Jackson in Orlando heap praise upon their employer, equating the workplace and its benefits to a late 1990s dot-com. Unfortunately, they aren't looking for any planners now.

    Why can't municipal governments have a similar work environment? Afraid of appearing "frivolous?"
    As a localite (gov't employee) who deals regularly with Glatting Jackson in the Orlando area... I think they are one of the better firms around, and certainly seem to hold a lot of employee loyalty. Plus they get a lot of fun, cushy government contracts.

  7. #7

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    The Planning Trifecta!

    I've had the distinct opportunity to plan in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

    Government work was the steadiest, but where I worked local politicians tend to take over planning and development activities (with the support of our fearless leader) and run roughshod over staff.

    I loved private sector work because of the diversity of projects. One place was a little too exurban-oriented for me; we were mostly preparing planned development submittals for developers building homes 30 miles or more outside of the city, or acting as staff doing development review for smaller suburbs. The other place was much more urban-focused; we generally prepared TIF redevelopment plans, neighborhood plans, development impact studies and the like. Unfortunately, I was laid off from this job. However, my preference is to get back to the private side.

    Not-for-profits -- ugh. Spent too much time trying to convince policymakers that what we did mattered. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in.

    You know, I think the future of planning looks much better if there is a better balance between those in the public and private sectors. Our perspective of doctors, for example, would be quite different if the vast majority of them were employed in municipally-run hospitals and clinics.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    I also worked for a non-profit - the Chamber of Commerce. HATED IT!!!!!!
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    In the non-profit world I was always worrying about fundraising and never sure if there was enough money to continue paying my salary for the year. No fun. In the private sector I kept encountering ethical conflicts over what the bosses wanted me to do. Of course, that was working for an un-named retail chain. Public sector has been good, but has its problems as well.

  10. #10

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    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
    In the non-profit world I was always worrying about fundraising and never sure if there was enough money to continue paying my salary for the year. No fun. In the private sector I kept encountering ethical conflicts over what the bosses wanted me to do. Of course, that was working for an un-named retail chain. Public sector has been good, but has its problems as well.
    Ditto for me, Michael.

    I had a position at an urban institute for a large university. We got a huge two-year grant to develop a community/university partnership program. After two years, fundraising became tighter and I decided to move on.

    Most of my private sector work was rewarding, but beware of becoming too closely attached with a developer. My firm was hired by a developer to essentially make the case that a particular area was ripe for development -- and he (the developer) was just the guy to do it!

    Public sector work is good, but I may be too much of a "big-picture" thinker. Each municipality wants to carve out something that works best for it, usually without regard to those next to it. It seems I'm the only one (where I've worked) who wonders about impacts beyond boundaries.

    Again, I think the right private sector job beats the others hands down.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Hey rustbelt - where are you at? If you were to work with McKenna, which office would you work at?

    Because we had used them in the past, I asked them to bid on our master plan, but ended up awarding it to Carlisle Wortman out of Ann Arbor Michigan. My community has dealt a lot with McKenna before I started, and I know a lot of people that work there (both on a professional and friendly basis). I can tell you my personal opinions as a community, and also get some info for you from people that work there.

    Are you in Michigan? There are other consulting firms that may or may not be an option for you as well, depending on where you are located.

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    Hey rustbelt - where are you at? If you were to work with McKenna, which office would you work at?
    Believe it or not, I applied for the McKenna job, too. Seems like a good fitt, considering my skills.

    I'd prefer the Hudson, Ohio location. I like the Cleveland area, and the location is close to the 'rents and friends in Buffalo (about a three hour drive).

    I don't know enough about the Detroit metro area to decide if it's liveable or not. Is there anyplace in the region with a concentration of young, single professionals, that ISN'T in the city proper?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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