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Thread: Career advice for aspiring planner

  1. #1
    Oct 2005
    the Rose City

    Career advice for aspiring planner

    I've decided I want to enter planning, but I've also decided to work my way into the profession rather then get my Masters of Planning first, and then look for a job. I've just read too many posts by people who went to school first and now can't find jobs.

    My question is what type of companies in the private sector should I look at? I have a polisci degree but am working in a totally different field right now (ultrasound technician at a hospital).


  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Land of Confusion
    First of all you should narrow down your interests in the field. Then picture yourself in a role where you will be managing projects, as this is generally what consultants do. What skills could you bring to the project team? Keep in mind that private sector work is highly specialized and that you marketabillity will depend on your ability to fit into a role.

  3. #3
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
    Feb 2006
    I'm not sure where I am...or where I want to be
    You could increase your attractiveness and willingness to learn new things by taking one class so you can tell prospective employers you're actively increasing your knowledge base. You may find you need that master's to go much further.

    One reason I went to grad school was that I kept being #2 in job interviews. I talked to an interviewer after I didn't get another job and he said I was their 2nd choice, but they had to go with the person with the master's degree. There are so many candidates with masters, employers feel that, all other things being the same, they had to go for the candidate with the masters. This may be more common in governement than in the private sector, but in that case, as Hill said, you need to identify your specialized skills that meet their needs.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Mar 2005
    Clayobyrne, CB
    I was in the same boat as you a few years ago. I graduated with a BA in political science and wanted to break into the planning field. I had just woken up from a brief flirtation with journalism. I had worked as the production manager and managing editor of my university newspaper and interned at a major daily newspaper.

    I eventually decided against journalism and sought to pursue my life-long dream of transportation planning (really). Breaking into the field was very hard without and engineering or planning degree. I ended up leveraging my editing, writing and graphic design skills to land a position in the communications department of a major city housing authority. I worked on the admin floor with the CEO and planning department. My boss allowed me to serve on many key planning and transition committees (section 504, Hope VI, etc.)

    I also began to pursue a Master of City Planning degree in the evenings.

    I used this little bit of planning experience to get a job as an associate in a small community development/planning firm. After building additional planning skills, many in economic development and transportation, I began to apply for transportation planning jobs. The strategy seemed to work, as I recently accepted a position as a city/mpo transportation planner in a small southern metro. I completed my MCP in September, just after I received the offer for the current job.

    I would offer the following advice: use whatever skills you have to weedle your way into a planning related agency, department or firm. Once there, maximize your exposure to planning projects and processes. Then make a jump into full time planning.

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