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Thread: Choosing between 2 job offers

  1. #1
    Cyburbian notabigcitygirl's avatar
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    Choosing between 2 job offers

    Hello all-

    I am in the enviable position of choosing between 2 job offers. One is in a small suburban town with a terrific sales tax base and a population of 11,500 ish. I would be serving as the only planner, aside from the Director. I would have a 5 minute commute, and a guarantee of advancement in a short period of time. The other offer is from a city of 4 million where I would serve as one of many, and would specialize (?) in comprehensive community and neighborhood planning. The commute is 1 to 1 1/2 hours each way and the salary is much greater, about 15%.

    I am a new planner, fresh out of undergrad and grad school, both in planning, as well as a year in a small town internship. Any advice on benefits / disadvantages of each type of opportunity would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    What do YOU want?

    The choice seems pretty clear. Based on your name, I would think you'd take the job in the smaller municipality. But you might very well get bored in a smaller place (professionally, I mean) after a while. The advantage is that you would get exposed to a lot of different types of planning, whereas you might get pigeon-holed at the larger place.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    No Brainer.....

    For a guy like me that's been around a bit now.....

    Positive Response:
    Go with the smaller town! 15% couldn't come close to making up for that nightmare commute and the almost certain increase in cost of living....? You seem to have experience in a small office already and this should serve you well in the new job.

    Negative Hat On:
    On the other hand, working in a monster city with monster sized problems could be fun too, if you want to go Gray early and develop an ulcer before your 30 Oh and get pidgeon holed into a very narrow work subject.... Not to mention that I'm not sure there is anything that can be done to make "things" better in SoCal....if that's where the job is....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  4. #4
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Go with the small town option for the broad experience.


    But if it was my choice, I'd go where the hottest looking babes are...

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Go with the small city with a short commute.

    Since you are beginning your career, you need an environment where there is a better chance for a diversity of experience. In the small city and being one of two planners, you will certainly get the opportunity to greater diversity of projects. In the big city, you will be pigeonholed into the one area you are in and not as likely to experience much else.

    Plus, a 5 minute vs 1 hour+ commute is a no-brainer....long commutes suck.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    With the commute your work day will be 25% longer with the bigger city. There goes your 15% pay increase right there.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    It all depends on what your future goals are. Both have good and bad aspect and a choice should be based on long term opportunities.

    Personally, it sounds like you are leaning to the smaller community, which I personally would choose. With that option you will be exposed to a wide range of assignments thus learn a wide range of skills.

    Opportunities are available in every situation, if you seek them out.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  8. #8
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    ditto! I think small towns are great, especially just starting out. You'll get to help out on a lot of different things, and from my experience things seem to be less stressful working for small towns. And that big city commute sounds brutal.

  9. #9
         
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    I would go with the small town unless you like big organizations. I have a 5 minute commute now and its great. Home for lunch almost every day! You can get in a workout or run some errands instead of setting in your car every night. Sleep in an extra hour every morning or do something else that you love! Also I would not want to drive that far after a late night meeting or afterwork drinks. After a few years if you grow tired of the small town you can start looking around. Its unlikely you will be working there for the rest of your life anyway.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by savemattoon View post
    With the commute your work day will be 25% longer with the bigger city. There goes your 15% pay increase right there.
    That time and extra gas/transportation $ spent would easily make up the 15% difference. Get some broad-based experience under your belt at the small city and the sky's the limit. Good luck in your employment endeavor.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Cal_Planner's avatar
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    I was in a similar situation only 2-3 months ago.

    I negotiated for a higher salary with the small town (aprox 11,500 pop). They met my salary demands and promised rapid advancement and 10% annual raises for the next two years upon "excellent" annual review.

    I took the small town position for several reasons that you are currently contemplating: small staff means more exposure and responsibility (a plus in my book). Small staff also means a little more mentoring for someone fresh out of school. Short commute, friendly and supportive staff, growing community (lots of projects to work on, and exciting things to come).

    I dislike the small town for other reasons: only having one grocery store (no organic produce selection), no mainstream shops or other conveniences, "good ol' boys" mentality, everybody knows everybody (i.e., your business).

    Fortunately I also have the luxury of having a place to stay in the "big city" (2 1/2 hours away) on the weekends. I like the convenience, amenities, and "social capital" that the big city offers.

    Good Luck and let me know if I can answer any specific questions!
    Cheers!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by notabigcitygirl View post
    Hello all-

    The other offer is from a city of 4 million where I would serve as one of many, and would specialize (?) in comprehensive community and neighborhood planning. The commute is 1 to 1 1/2 hours each way and the salary is much greater, about 15%.
    If this is a union position it may take quite a while to advance or get decent pay increases. You may be better off with the first offer, economically. You should also lok at other benefits. For example, one may have free medical insurance wilth low co-pays and the other may charge you weekly for medical, with high co-pays. Its also never too early to think about retirement, so check out those packages. Where I am I can retire with 80 percent of my pay in a pension before I'm 60. I also have a 401k type plan that both me and my employer invest in. I know of others who may make a few grand a year more than I do, but do not have the same level of security.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    As many others have said, go with the small city job. You will be exposed to much more, even issues outside of planning, and will be much more valuable to potential future employers.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I interviewed with a ton of big cities that wanted nothing to do with me. They would see that I lived in Detroit and figured I'd go stir crazy in a small city (they were probably right!).
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by notabigcitygirl View post
    Hello all-

    I am in the enviable position of choosing between 2 job offers. One is in a small suburban town with a terrific sales tax base and a population of 11,500 ish. I would be serving as the only planner, aside from the Director. I would have a 5 minute commute, and a guarantee of advancement in a short period of time. The other offer is from a city of 4 million where I would serve as one of many, and would specialize (?) in comprehensive community and neighborhood planning. The commute is 1 to 1 1/2 hours each way and the salary is much greater, about 15%.

    I am a new planner, fresh out of undergrad and grad school, both in planning, as well as a year in a small town internship. Any advice on benefits / disadvantages of each type of opportunity would be greatly appreciated!
    What is the guarantee of advancement - Is the director close to retiring - and you would be the successor. If that is the case, this is really a no-brainer. To me there is no point working for a big city if you are not going to live in that city. I would definitely chose the small town for the breadth of experience in planning. You will become a jack of all trades and be able to discern what aspect of planning most interests you or what other aspects of city government intrigue you. And when you decide you need to move on, you will be more than ready to do so.

    Besides the other negatives mentioned, the only other negative to being the only planner is if you have a lazy director who really does not do any planning work. Is the planning director a working planner or a figurehead? If it is fast growing town, the workload could crush you.

    Good luck! Let us know what you decide.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian notabigcitygirl's avatar
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    Thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts. I accepted the small town position after they met my salary requirements and a promotion to Associate Planner in 18 months was guaranteed in the offer letter. My Director is most certainly NOT lazy and is a terrific mentor. I know I made the right decison for me, and again, thanks to all of you for your thoughtful responses. I look forward to future opportunities to ask you all for advice- maybe on parking...

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