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Thread: Public vs. private sector planning

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Public vs. private sector planning

    I am currently working as a planner for a local government and am being recruited by a private sector company to come on board as a planner. Unfortunately, I have no idea what a private sector planner does. I'm hoping to get some advice from some of the forum members on the differences between public and private sector so I can make an informed decision! Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. I am stressing out!

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    what does the company do? is it a planning firm? engineering? LA? AIA? who is their client base? go onto their webdite and scope out previous projects to get a feel for what kind of consulting firm they are. then you can decide if it's what you want to do -

    good luck!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    In my neck of the woods, private sector planners do one of two things:

    1) work for engineering and development companies to put together projects and then lead them through the strenous process of local gov't planning, and/or:

    2) get hired by local governments to do things like rewrite code, work on comprehensive plans, area plans, impact fees, etc.

    Hard to give advice if we don't know what this particular company does...

    You should ask them for a job description.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Oops, I probably should have been a little clearer with my post (sorry my first time!). They are an engineering firm that has a planning department. I asked for a job description for the position and they said they didn't have one which I thought was strange considering the size and reputation of the firm. I was assuming that the planner would be a "project manager" or sorts however, when speaking with the director he stated that they differentiate between planners and project managers. I have proposed "shadowing" someone at the firm for a day.. we'll see what they say about that!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    My advice... ask for at least 15% more than you're making now. Between the overtime and other time crunches you're worth it.
    @GigCityPlanner

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by vdubluv
    They are an engineering firm that has a planning department.
    Could be either physical planning/design/presenting development proposals to planning boards OR acting as the municipal planner for a bunch of municipalities instead of just one.

    Given what you've said about your present position, it seems likely that the position would be the second possibility. I had a position like that in New Jersey at an engineering firm, and they weren't particularly well organized either (re: no job description). A big thing was engineers acting as planners because they'd passed the NJ PP exam.

    A big factor for me was 'too many municipalities = too many night meetings.' Your mileage may vary.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mawmaw5108's avatar
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    I worked for 2 engineering firms and am now with an architecture firm. Never thought about working for government. :p There are 2 kinds of planners. One does design, the other one doesn't. No "project manager" term for planner but at the same time if you are a senior planner then you are a project manager anyway. (They just don't call you a PM. You are a planner no matter what.)

    I think it is funny that that person couldn't give you a job description unless he/she is from HR, not from planning department.
    Work hard, play hard.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by vdubluv
    I asked for a job description for the position and they said they didn't have one which I thought was strange considering the size and reputation of the firm. I was assuming that the planner would be a "project manager" or sorts however, when speaking with the director he stated that they differentiate between planners and project managers.
    I would be very concerned by that. They should be able to produce a job description at the drop of a hat, and if asked, and since its not a planning firm, I'd also ask for a copy of the strategic plan for the planning division. If this is just a planner-supporting-what-engineers-do type of position, do you really want it?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian CDT's avatar
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    I worked for an architecture firm prior to getting into government. They didn't have a job description either. They didn't even know what I'd be doing. They ended up assigning me to write program statements and assist the LA on landscape master plans. It was awful and at the end of the day they didn't really want a planner. It was a bad 4 months of my life.

    The other private firms around my area do several things...

    One planner I know designs subdivisions in CADD, works on grading plans with civil engineers.

    Others I know work for firms that do comprehensive plans, zoning updates, subdivision updates. From what I understand they work 60 hour weeks and have a lot of night meetings in small towns.

    Not many of the planners here do subdivision design. Firms here leave that primarily to the civil engineers and most of the firms do not even have a planner on staff. I know two engineering firms that each have 1 planner on staff. They do a lot of rendering concepts for subdivisions. And they all seem to work a lot with the marketing departments. Recently one of the planners left the engineering firm and hasn't been replaced. As far as I know they're not replacing her. The attitude here (in the private sector) is that planners are expendible.

    I am a local government planner myself but I have considered crossing over before. Each time I think about it, I just can't find enough reasons to do it. I really like what I do in government. Most of my planning friends are in the private sector though.

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