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Thread: So what is expected of a rookie? Also, private v public sector

  1. #1
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    So what is expected of a rookie? Also, private v public sector

    What are they going to expect from a rookie right out of grad school. Honestly, transportation has been my passion since I was 4 years old. Specifically highways growing up, but as I got older I was exposed to transit, and now I like them all.

    Do they do a whole lot of supervising new people and teaching, or do they just give you a folder of papers on your first day and say "do it"? I'm terrified of that happening to me, then getting fired, and being homeless!

    I think I'm nervous because school is very theory-based, and not actual teaching of day-to-day operations. (I'm getting my master's in urban and regional planning.)

    Private v. public.

    I had an internship for a suburb that I didn't like, because the department has to answer to the politicians, and it's very community involved. I want to work on projects, not make believe stuff that maybe the politicians will think is cute-sy. I want to actually plan transportation networks and fix transportation problems. "Let's see if realigning this offramp will smooth traffic flow..." etc.

    Would I be more suited for the private sector?

    Thanks for all of your help.

    BTW, everyone at school keeps saying go to the Las Vegas National Conference because employers will be there, and you can talk to them informally about jobs. Yes?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by lamsalfl View post
    I had an internship for a suburb that I didn't like, because the department has to answer to the politicians, and it's very community involved. I want to work on projects, not make believe stuff that maybe the politicians will think is cute-sy. I want to actually plan transportation networks and fix transportation problems. "Let's see if realigning this offramp will smooth traffic flow..." etc.
    One thing you will learn (or I am a typical cynical Gen Xer) is that no matter if you are in the public sector or private sector, politics has a very large role in everything we do. You can make the best plans, an interconnected transportation systems, or a mega transit hub that is what this community really needs, but if you cannot get a majority vote by the Board that requested the study/design to begin with, it will not matter at all. There are no more Robert Moses type positions in American planning any more where we say we need this and it happens (thanks to planners in the 1950s and 1960s putting Interstate highways through vibrant inner city neighborhoods). So due to this, we need to work within the political system and learn how to work the political system in order to plan for growth. In the public sector, we try to get these things approved. In the private sector, you have Planning Directors and Chairman telling you what you need to do in order to get your project concept approved. It is all part of the process.
    Satellite City Enabler

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I wouldn't worry too much about ending up homeless. If they hire you, they've at least committed to you for a little while and you'd have to be a huge idiot or they'd have to be having major issues (that have nothing to do with you) to let you go after a short period of time.

    Politics are a part of every job. All kind of battles are going on behind the scenes, some important on a broader scale, some not. I worked in upscale retail after college and that was full of "politics," stuff you wouldn't even think about, and that was a clothing store. If you get into planning, you're much closer to real political players and it's going to be much worse (or better if you enjoy it!).

    I think getting experience navigating through all the political crap that comes with a public sector job is fun! Frustrating, but fun. If you can figure out how to play the game, you'll actually do well and it will help you in your career, public or private.

    The APA conference is a good place to meet employers. Make sure you do things that will put you in contact with potential employers and not just the people you go with. That being said, I met my last boss and got an interview lined up while we were both drunk in San Antonio at the opening reception. Good times.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by lamsalfl View post
    What are they going to expect from a rookie right out of grad school. Honestly, transportation has been my passion since I was 4 years old. Specifically highways growing up, but as I got older I was exposed to transit, and now I like them all.

    Do they do a whole lot of supervising new people and teaching, or do they just give you a folder of papers on your first day and say "do it"? I'm terrified of that happening to me, then getting fired, and being homeless!

    I think I'm nervous because school is very theory-based, and not actual teaching of day-to-day operations. (I'm getting my master's in urban and regional planning.)

    Private v. public.

    I had an internship for a suburb that I didn't like, because the department has to answer to the politicians, and it's very community involved. I want to work on projects, not make believe stuff that maybe the politicians will think is cute-sy. I want to actually plan transportation networks and fix transportation problems. "Let's see if realigning this offramp will smooth traffic flow..." etc.

    Would I be more suited for the private sector?

    Thanks for all of your help.

    BTW, everyone at school keeps saying go to the Las Vegas National Conference because employers will be there, and you can talk to them informally about jobs. Yes?
    It really depends upon what job you get hired for and what the present staffing levels are. You might want to ask questions about staff turnover, etc. as frequent staff turnover may mean that a ton of work will be dumped in your lap before you are ready. They might apologize and be sympathetic and helpful or they may just tell you to do it and walk away.

    In my first job, on my first day, my boss literally pointed to papers and folders that were lying on the floor and told me to start working on that project and finish it up - it was an annexation project containing a dozen separate areas - not the least bit controversial! And that was the extent of my training.

    Anyway, you have to interview them during your interview, so that you can determine whether you will be comfortable working there.

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