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Thread: Interview for a planning technician tomorrow

  1. #1
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    Interview for a planning technician tomorrow

    Hello everyone,

    I need advice about what information to mention in an (phone) interview for a Planning Technician. I currently work for a in the private sector for a company that completes zoning analysis (reports/summaries of zoning due diligence) of commercial properties throughout the US. We address conformance, height, setbacks, landscape buffers, lot width, depth, basically all bulk regulations and parking requirements and permitting - variances, sup, cup re-zoning applications. We also review and scale the surveys and site plans to determine conformance to established building requirements. I don't use GIS software, but I do go online and pull up the zoning and overlay districts (if applicable) utilizing the muncipalities mapping systems.

    I've been working in planning and zoning for 3 years; however, my company is currently laying off due to the economy. It's because of this job I want to continue to pursue a career in planning. I'll finish my associates at the end of this year. My long term goals are to finish my bachelors and get a masters degree in urban planning.

    I'm just looking for a way to get my foot in the door and I think this would be the perfect opportunity! Please help!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Oh man, I remember getting calls from your types when I worked as planning technician. I think you will find the work similar in nature but in a government setting instead of a corporate setting. When I interviewed for that job, I made sure to emphasize my willingness to learn and my career aspirations for planning. Being flexible and able to multi-task is also important to being a planning tech. Depending on the size of the planning department you are interviewing with planning techs can have various roles in the department, for example I did stuff an entry level planner would do, except they couldn't call me that because I did not have a degree in planning. I also did administrative work and some work with building permits. My work led me to going back to school for the masters. Best of luck!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    Oh man, I remember getting calls from your types when I worked as planning technician. I think you will find the work similar in nature but in a government setting instead of a corporate setting. When I interviewed for that job, I made sure to emphasize my willingness to learn and my career aspirations for planning. Being flexible and able to multi-task is also important to being a planning tech. Depending on the size of the planning department you are interviewing with planning techs can have various roles in the department, for example I did stuff an entry level planner would do, except they couldn't call me that because I did not have a degree in planning. I also did administrative work and some work with building permits. My work led me to going back to school for the masters. Best of luck!

    Yeah, I hate "stalking" the planning techs and planners for more information..LOL! I'm pretty sure they hate to hear us call too! I have a question for you since you are pursuing your masters, what should I get my undergrad in? The reason I ask is because I want to go the accelerated route for adult students to finish quickly but most programs are like business administration or psychology. Should I take the political science route?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veejay View post
    ...interview for a Planning Technician. I currently work for a in the private sector for a company that completes zoning analysis (reports/summaries of zoning due diligence) of commercial properties throughout the US. We address conformance, height, setbacks, landscape buffers, lot width, depth, basically all bulk regulations and parking requirements and permitting - variances, sup, cup re-zoning applications. We also review and scale the surveys and site plans to determine conformance to established building requirements. ...online and pull up the zoning and overlay districts (if applicable) utilizing the muncipalities mapping systems.

    I've been working in planning and zoning for 3 years...
    Planning techs must have changed since my first entry-level job (that was my title). You may well be overqualified. Don't let that go to your head.

    At my department, it was also a revolving door, not lasting more than the six months probationary period. (Something about being told to make coffee.)

    You might reassure them that you are looking for a long-term opp and as you move up the ladder within the department, you'll be a voice of experience and institutional knowledge.

    YMMV. (I had a phone interview where one of the questioners appeared to be in the wrong room or reading off the wrong list. Don't like 'em.)

  5. #5
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    Veloise,

    Believe me, nothing goes to my head, I'm always underestimating myself.

    I need work and planning experience. I've made it through 2 layoffs (one last friday) and I'm certaintly not looking to go somewhere and end up getting the boot (or coffee for that matter ) Maybe I should just go the administrative assistant route because I'd have to relocate to accept the position (assuming I get it).

  6. #6
    Cyburbian RubberStamp Man's avatar
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    The only advice I can offer is to promote your understanding of planning and how you can see the big picutre and help the dept run smoothly. We don't have planning tech in our dept and borrow a GIS tech for making maps and schedules. The thing that gets me is this guy has a planning tech diploma but constantly screws up on drafts b/c, I think, he just doesn't get what we are doing - just takes literal instructions and doesn't think about how the big picture.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    my 2 cents

    UTA has a planning program. It is really geared towards masters, but they do have an interdisciplinary degree in the same school and you take similar courses.

    In north TX you have the NCTCOG and all the various cities who hire planners and related positions. Being at UTA will pretty much get you a paid internship at NCTCOG for about $11 an hour. But I think they mostly hire the master's students. But you can always try!

    If money is an issue, go to UTA, get in to whatever school interests you, and then go straight into the masters program . And in your first semester as a masters student try to get an internship, when you graduate your internship would likely turn into a job with them or near by and in today's dolalrs that would be about a $40K a year job most places.

    Links:
    http://www.nctcog.org/
    http://www.uta.edu/supa/Academics/in...linary-studies
    http://www.uta.edu/supa/Academics/ma...ional-planning
    http://www.uta.edu/supa/Academics/certificate-programs

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the advice JavaJuice,

    The phone interview went great and they wanted me to come in for a 2nd interview; however, upon my arrival of the city (roughly 25 miles south of Houston) I decided to decline the interview because I HATED the area and surrounding areas (Too trashy for my taste). Plus my allergies were going HAYWIRE in Houston, it was not a good fit. So I will continue to concrete my efforts in north/central Texas! The saga continues!!!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veejay View post
    Yeah, I hate "stalking" the planning techs and planners for more information..LOL! I'm pretty sure they hate to hear us call too! I have a question for you since you are pursuing your masters, what should I get my undergrad in? The reason I ask is because I want to go the accelerated route for adult students to finish quickly but most programs are like business administration or psychology. Should I take the political science route?
    Political Science is a good bachelors to have, I should know but so is geography, public administration, sociology, landscape arch, architecture, engineering, construction....etc there are several threads on this topic you should check out
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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