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Thread: Urban planning career questions

  1. #1
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    Urban planning career questions

    Hello.

    This is my first time posting. I recently discovered Cyburbia and am glad there's such a site to learn from.

    I'm in a career transition currently and am considering a couple of Masters programs in Urban Planning--one at the University of Utah, the other at the University of New Mexico.

    A degree in Urban Planning seems to be quite versatile, which I like. Besides being a city planner, there seem to be quite a few career paths open to individuals with a degree in UP. I have a friend who's brother is completing his Masters in UP at the University of Utah, and he's not even going the city planner route--he got some GIS classwork under his belt and is doing GIS work for a city there and seems to be enjoying it. I'd like to hear from other on this forum the different directions, perhaps even unexpected, that they've gone since graduating.

    Also, what type of person will be most successful? Personally, I'm an ENFP (for those who are familiar with that personality type), and I've learned from experience that I do NOT do well in jobs that are nothing more than boring, repetitive, mundane tasks. I need to be in a position where I can creatively generate new ideas, implement them, and deal closely with people. I'd like to hear from those with experience what type of person YOU feel will best succeed in such a position.

    One last thing, I understand that getting GIS experience in school can open a lot of doors. Have many of you found this to be true?

    Thank you for your feedback and wisdom!

    Ron

  2. #2
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by rgwhitaker View post
    Hello.


    Also, what type of person will be most successful? Personally, I'm an ENFP (for those who are familiar with that personality type), and I've learned from experience that I do NOT do well in jobs that are nothing more than boring, repetitive, mundane tasks. I need to be in a position where I can creatively generate new ideas, implement them, and deal closely with people. I'd like to hear from those with experience what type of person YOU feel will best succeed in such a position.

    One last thing, I understand that getting GIS experience in school can open a lot of doors. Have many of you found this to be true?

    Thank you for your feedback and wisdom!

    Ron
    Yeah, the GIS stuff is important. I worked at a nonprofit CDC after school and hardly used it, but I use it nearly every day now that I work for local gov't. I learned on MapInfo but use ArcGIS here (it's kind of like Mac vs PC). The type of position you need can be fulfilled in the planning field, but I find that I spend more time on implementation and less on idea generation, at least when it comes to generating ideas in a macro sense. The politicians handle the macro stuff, while we are called upon to execute and handle the details.

    I'm an INFJ, by the way. I wear many hats here at my job and it's never boring. You sound like the kind of person that would be happiest in a small office where you wouldn't be pigeonholed and end up working on some repetitive project all day.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by rgwhitaker View post
    One last thing, I understand that getting GIS experience in school can open a lot of doors.
    Hey Ron,
    Glad you stumbled on the world of planning. If your thinking about getting a master's degree, why not stay here in Califronia? You can't beat instate tuition, and there are a lot of great master programs throughout the state (Cal, Cal Poly, UCLA, UC Riverside, San Jose State just to name a few). As for the GIS, yes it does open up doors, but to me it seems like that would be a position where you do the same thing over, and over, and over again, and with your personality type you might just get burned out quick, especially if you desire interaction with people, or want to implement change in the built environment. Being a GIS monkey is probably not the way to go imo.

    I have the same personality type and i work for a private firm and i feel i am making more of difference, especially when i work for municipalities as my ideas are the ones being implemented and brought to fruition. The role of politics is intertwined in planning no matter what sector (public or private) but it is more so on the public side than on the private side, so you must learn how to deal with that and how it sometimes gets in the way of the overall vision us planners strive to make. I find that the most successful planners and planning departments are ones that have a vision for their city, yet are willing to comprise here and there on somethings, but not others. Compromising, listening to constituents, and have a vision are keys to planning success. Good Luck!
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Alot of entry-level planning positions deal with boring, repetitive, mundane tasks that upper level planners don't want to deal with. This does not mean that you can't find jobs that promote creativity, although you might have to sacrifice a bigger paycheck and benefits to do a job that you really enjoy.

    GIS opens many doors, but you can easily be pigeonholed into GIS-only jobs which may or may not have anything to do with planning. I had completed several planning internships when I graduated with my bachelors in planning, about half of which had heavy GIS work. Most of the jobs I interviewed were for entry-level planning/GIS technicians. I don't do too much GIS work now but can use the software when needed.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I think there was a thread a while back called "GiS does not a planner make" or something like that.

    Planning is not about making maps. Its good to know how to use tools, and GIS is a good tool. For that matter, so is Google, which you'll need to know how to use in order to quickly research things.

    Being a planner is, in my opinion, all about people skills, being able to juggle the big picture with the details, and being able to understand and then explain complex ideas to ordinary folks. You've got to be a great listener. You've got to be able to understand politics.

    If you're a person who is creative and self-initiating, you'll do fine, as their are a million opportunities to fulfill and express yourself in this field.

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