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Thread: Anyone ever feel scared like I do in this situation?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Anyone ever feel scared like I do in this situation?

    I plan on going to grad school after I graduate, with an attempt in getting a dual master's. I think this question is a lot more general and relates to more than just planners, and designers. I am really scared that I will attain these degrees, but then maybe not even like it, and leave the field, wasting money, and my time. Cities are my passion, and I love sketching college campuses, etc. Sometimes I think I would like to go into the Journalism/Advertising world. Then again here in Chicago the APA is located here and I could write for them which would put in together both passions (cities and writing).

    I am sure there are a lot of you that have felt this way? What steps did you take to figure that Planning or whatever career was right for you? I think I am more in the stage right now that I know what I want to do in life, but I am not sure if I could say or feel the same way in 10 years.

  2. #2
    Hey, I can relate to that. I've always had a strong interest in cities and planning, but I also feel pulled to so many other fields: Geography, International Relations, Spanish... What I'm trying to do right now, before I start applying to planning programs, is to narrow down my career interests to what best matches my skills, and trying to figure out which things I could see myself involved with every single day.

    The way I look at it, you won't be wasting your time no matter what your degree is in (unless you have a very specific idea of what you want career path to look like- which it doesn't seem like you do). You'll gain valuable skills and experience just from having earned a degree, and there are many skills that are applicable to a range of fields. If you're unsure that you're really committed to something, try to find a job that would give you more exposure to it.

    For what it's worth, many people do make drastic career shifts well into their thirties. I had two college professors who go master's degrees in Biology; one was a religion professor, and the other taught Latin American studies and Spanish. So nothing's set in stone.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    A couple of good books that might help out some:

    "What color is your parachute?" - much more than just a job hunting book.

    "Do what you are" -- a book about meyers-briggs personality types and the sorts of work they are best suited for/usually happiest in.

    I think most people wrestle with such questions from time to time, some of us more than others. I am still trying to feel my away to the right path and don't even yet have a planning job. (Nor have I completed my bachelor's, probably a whole other topic.)

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Natan Fierro View post
    The way I look at it, you won't be wasting your time no matter what your degree is in (unless you have a very specific idea of what you want career path to look like- which it doesn't seem like you do). You'll gain valuable skills and experience just from having earned a degree, and there are many skills that are applicable to a range of fields.
    my thoughts exactly. worse case scenario you still come out with a master's degree. one of the major reasons i chose Planning was its interdisciplinary nature. there's more than just local guv'ment planning. if you have interests in Geography perhaps you could focus more on the GIS aspect of planning or be creative in different ways to apply the degree.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Dashboard's avatar
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    You know the old saying hindsight is 20/20? Well, I can honestly say that if I had access to a time machine and could go back, I would not get a masters in planning again. In fact, I would do something completely different. I've been working 4 years...In school, I loved cities and the concepts of urban planning. But now, in the real world of work, I realize that I do not like it. I still love cities and even planning at its root...but I can't stand all of the BS that surrounds it, the politics, the complainers, the apathetic agencies with which I have to deal.

    I'm at the point now where I want to love what I do...and right now, I don't.

    Natan Fierro said:
    For what it's worth, many people do make drastic career shifts well into their thirties.
    This is very true...and I am pretty sure I will be one of them.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I am just finishing my graduate degree in planning, which is actually my second time around in graduate school. Which is to say, I can relate.

    Still, I think graduate school is largely the experience you make it. It is as much about the connections you make with others in the field (through professors and projects) as it is about the information you learn.

    My advice is to choose class research topics on things that interest you so you can delve into them in more detail. This will likely lead you to people that do this kind of work professionally (either in your city or elsewhere) and maybe open up some opportunities. It may also make you realize that a partiular facet of planning is just not for you. Talk to your professors on the side (especially your advisor) and seek out internships or other opportunities where you both get some practical experience and others get to see where your strengths lie. My current job actually came from doing a summer job to make ends meet. The organization liked what I was doing and talking about and they helped create a position to pursue some of these ideas. You just never know...

    Fortunately planning is a very diverse field - you could end up doing anything from dispute resolution and group facilitation to community development programming, public space design or reviewing subdivision proposals. You could be a policy analyst, a researcher, or an environmental planner. Or these experiences could lead you to something more peripherally related but for which planning knowledge would be an asset.

    I agree that deciding to go down a particular path in life can be terrifying for all the unkown (and possible disappointment) that is just around the bend. But then, what is the alternative in life? You gotta do something, so if cities are of interest to you, give it a shot and see what develops.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  7. #7
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    I'm sorry I got a MA in planning as well- mainly because I've gotten myself in so much debt, it's very hard to go back to school for something else. I would rather do something more social work oriented, but they make less money and I'm not qualified. I think it's important to not worry about having a job that you LOVE, more that you like it well enough and have a life outside of work. I used to think a person needed to have a "calling"- now I realize, hey, there's lots of things I can do, and as long as I'm not miserable, it's okay.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    get a good education in urban planning, even if you end up in journalism, you'll be that much more knowledgeable - time is never wasted in education - and, you never know what will happen in 10 years - my immediate goal after college was just getting a job and keeping it during the recession of the late 90's - I thought I was a "lifer" in this one firm I worked for until one day they laid off the whole firm and there I was, and then decided to try local government and never looked back -

    My Dad gave me good advice many years ago: he said he didn't care what we did for a living and that it's okay not to set the world on fire, as long as you get up everyday and want to go to work, that's his wish for us, and, if we love what we do, we will do great things

    and it was good advice and except for the occasional funk (like now), I do really like coming into work

    and there's always despair.com to set me straight: http://despair.com/potential.html

    hehehe, have to keep our sense of humor!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Here's a strange thought:

    If you're not sure what you want to do, DON'T GO!

    There is no reason to hurry from your bachelors to a master's, and lot's of good reasons not to. Work for a few years inbetween, in the area that you think you want to work. If you want to do planning, throw yourself on the doorstep of the best planning firm in the area. Be an admin assistant, get an internship, whatever, to get your foot in the door and see what they do.

    If, after a year or two, you still want to go back to school and be a planner, *then* go back. Besides, the extra experience will only make your application that much stronger.

    YMMV.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    I'm with bdaleray. If you're not sure about it, don't waste your time or money at this point. My husband got a bachelor's and master's (right away) in Industrial Education and Technology, without ever getting any job experience in it. One of the reasons he decided on graduate school was because during the summer after he finished his b.s. he was having trouble landing his first job. Now he says getting his masters in that discipline right away was the stupidest thing he ever did. He racked up so much debt, and after a couple jobs in his field, which he didn't care for, he ended up landing an engineering technician job for a city, which exposed him to GIS. He loves GIS and he wished he had considered getting an education in it in the first place. Now he's 31 years old, and back at school, for his GIS Certificate and considering going ahead and getting a b.s. in Geography, cause he's pretty sure he wants GIS to be his career.

    And I know I sound like a pessimist, but don't assume you'll get that "dream job" or write for the APA right away. Chances are more likely you'll first rack up job experience doing code enforcement and dealing with greedy developers, which isn't very fun to people who like to sketch cities.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    Dashboard- AMEN! After 1 yr in local planning, I can't stand the subdivision review, the planning commission and elected officials that won't support good design, the filtering that goes on by staff who give everything to developers, the good comp and natural resources plans that sit on the shelf, the proposed ordinances that won't pass bc of whining locals....
    I'm switching to the nonprofit world where I can educate people about the importance of these ideas. Gotta plant some seeds before I can expect to see a fruit!
    Btw... I majored in Public Administration and was considering my Masters in Planning, but think I will stick with Pub Ad for my masters as well. It's more flexible.
    Good luck!
    ...Moving at the speed of local government

  12. #12
    Hi there.
    "Yes, damn, yes" is what I thought when reading the topic right here.
    I'm an Italian - so please forgive my mistakes in writing - student engaged in the fourth year of attending to what you'd probably call a "Building Engineering - Architecture" course, somewhat a fusion of both the faculties.
    When I first came in contact with planning, that was two years ago, I immediately felt in love with the subject. I had entered the faculty with the aim of following the architectonic-repair (do you call it this way?) path, but the impact with planning was stunning. All of my desire of "letting the wrong things get right", someway, was multiplied, with a giant scale factor, into the urban dimension. Great. But most of this magic effect was helped, I admit, by the shining personality of the team of teachers that followed and motived us much more (and in a much "social" way) than what I expected. Something that often happens, I'd say.

    Now that two years have passed by, I'm not as sure of my future as I was then. I've discovered my "artistic vein", the passion for historical research on architecture and so on. I think I've never been in such a personal trouble before; anyway, I'll attend another planning course from march, so I will see.

    Ok, this post doesn't answer to anyone of your questions, sorry! But that was just for a personal contribution. I always find it helpful to listen other's troubles when maybe similar to mine... so I've been so selfish that I've believed you would have agreed!

    My best wishes for your future!

    From Italy,
    Maat.
    Last edited by Maat; 31 Jan 2007 at 7:51 AM. Reason: little mistake ^^

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday
    Fortunately planning is a very diverse field - you could end up doing anything from dispute resolution and group facilitation to community development programming, public space design or reviewing subdivision proposals. You could be a policy analyst, a researcher, or an environmental planner. Or these experiences could lead you to something more peripherally related but for which planning knowledge would be an asset.
    I would take this idea and run with it. Try out a job (or two) in different areas of planning, see what the everyday work world is like. Yes, a lot of jobs are tedious, and often in government planning there is little opportunity for creativity. Check out related non-profits, grants writing, etc, and you may find your niche. Or you may not.

    And remember, you don't have to have a master's to get a planning job.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    I'm getting a master's in planning because I enjoy the material and the coursework, but like some others here, I'm not really liking the "real" work I'm doing at my job. I'm going to have student loans to pay off and I'm going to be in debt for a while. But honestly, I'm just going to do this and explore other options while I'm working in planning and probably shift careers in a few years. I may also get a job in writing, editing, publishing, politics... all those fields that have niche jobs that are harder to find (the ones they tell liberal arts majors are out there but that are very hard to find). It may just be my personality and how I deal with my life, but I'm happy with getting this degree even though it doesn't seem like I'm that passionate about it.

    I would recommend working for at least a year after school, if you can, just to take time off to regroup and think (not spend hours sitting in solitude, but just kind of start living the life you want and see what happens). Read a lot, talk to people, keep up and establish friendships and prepare to apply to school. Explore your options.

    I think that as long as you're not going into major debt (I'm in state and have an assistantship at school, so I'm taking out loans but not for the total cost of this education), getting a master's or dual-master's is worth it even if you change your mind later.

    Those are my thoughts. Nothing has been a lightning bolt in my brain about what my dream career is. I like cities, design, construction, politics, literature... I'm pretty bright and my strengths are overseeing, managing, and implementing projects... that's where I thrive. I've learned that going through college and the internships I had there, the jobs after college, and now grad school. But I'm still working on it.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I am a first year planning graduate student and I am content with my choice of where I am going to school because they are not solely fixated on "traditional" planning. Because I have the ability to take course from both the public policy and planning programs I feel like I have a good mix of courses that will allow me to do many different things in the future. Also the program I am in has a wide variety of concentrations so there is something for everyone.

    I guess I would suggest that you be relatively satisfied with your intended course of study before you embark on it because grad school is a significant investment of your time and money. See if you can defer admission. Seek out people in the field and what they think about what they do and what they would have done differently. Most people are pretty willing to share if you ask.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  16. #16
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    Lucifer

    Man you hit the nail on the head when you stated you thought of writing for APA, will save you a ton of money and you will be in the thick of things...best of both worlds

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Well 2 things. 1. You can take those courses that the two degrees require to see if you can rule one in or out or both; 2. get an internship ASAP that will give you an inside perspective on what you'll really be doing after graduation.

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