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Thread: Career advice

  1. #1
    Member
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    Career advice

    Hello,

    I've enjoyed immensely so far reading the friendly replies on this forum After days of lurking, I'm now ready to throw in my quandary to discussion...

    I'm a mid-life career changer, formerly a software engineer, who is willing to return to school and do whatever it takes for a fulfilling career. Currently I'm contemplating the areas of planning, RE development or RE finance, and are looking into any (or a combo) of the following degrees: MBA (finance, risk), MA in planning, or MA in RE development. Being at the initial stage of research, i'm without an articulated goal, unfortunately. So here I am hoping to receive some practical career advice.

    Two directions I've considered are: 1) working for a RE development company to learn every aspect of the development process 2) working in the government in the area of community economic development. I would love to experience both because in the far future I'd like to start, or be a part of, a private-public venture as a developer or consultant doing community economic development, low-income housing, urban revitalization, and/or redevelopment etc. That being said, I'm aware there is so much to learn, and my vision will probably change as I explore further.

    So for the short term, I was wondering which degree or degrees would best facilitate my entry? What are the pros and cons of starting from planning vs. RE development? I'm kind of scared to make a wrong decision b/c i heard it's pretty tough to find employment in either field. Another idea would be to get into RE finance doing modeling, investment option evaluation, etc. Could I make my entry that way? It would be a nice fall-back since my current skills are more apt for analytical work.

    Thank you ahead for all the response and suggestion. I hope i made some sense....BTW- i'm in los angeles. Some words on the job outlook in planning/development in this region would be very much appreciated as well.
    Last edited by sophia; 04 Sep 2006 at 12:54 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    It's better you pursue first on MA planning. Take the licensure and be accredited with AICP. You need those when you do Planning consultation.. While getting entry into real estate development, you can enrol units in MBA-which is needed when you plan to venture into community land development.

  3. #3
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    I too am in a similar position - (though it doesn't seem like it) I too am approaching the mid-life career change, though from an advertising/marketing background.
    In LA - and I may be wrong - you seem to have or at least to are close to - some very good schools.
    I am in Spokane WA, and trying to decide whether to try and break into the field of Urban Design or RE Development by pursuing either a MURP or and Interdisciplinary Design Degree (I believe its a MSLA).
    I wish I had advice to give, but rather just encouragement. Hope it works out.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cal_Planner's avatar
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    Bay Area (Northern California)
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    RE Development companies will likely prefer candidates with an MBA. Finance is key. You 'll get some finance in the planning program but not enough.

    the planning degree will go farther with the public sector. But you might be able to get an internship with a developer or non-profit affordable housing firm that will give you some headway if you want to work for a developer in the long run.....

  5. #5
    Cyburbian RubberStamp Man's avatar
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    Wherever mediocore planning lurks
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    IMO planning is different from re development, the former is about design, form and fit, the latter is about max return on investment. If you are good at numbers and are willing to spend 3-4 hours a day researching and keeping abreast of the finance world on top of your projects go into re development. This is what separates good financers from poor ones, in addition to ability and circumstance of course.

    The problem with planning is that often what you feel is the best design can become corrupted by your clients interests, which aren't necessarily in line with yours. But you have to put bread on the table and keep the lights on so what are you going to do? Cave in and provide a cookie cutter generic design that is near the opposite of what you learned but you now have money and a client base, or stick to your principles and not make any money and lose your client base.

    If you're on the public side of things you have to deal with NIMBY ALL the TIME and hear about traffic complaints justified or not.

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