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Thread: Establishing professional connections while in school

  1. #1
    Member
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    Mar 2008
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    Philadelphia, PA
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    Establishing professional connections while in school

    Hi,
    I'm considering MCP programs at Temple, Penn, and MIT. If I plan to work in Philadelphia after graduating, which of those would give me the strongest connections locally? Would it depend on whether I was looking in the private vs public sector? I know that Penn and Temple would have more opportunities to engage local issues while enrolled in the program, but I'm mainly asking about the networking prospects after graduation.
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian supergeek1313's avatar
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    Oct 2005
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    City of Angels
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    Being in a position where I'm just about done with grad school, I'd say that for planning it's more about what you do than where you go. First off, many professional organizations have networking opportunities - both Philly and Boston will have that open to you. Join the organizations in your specialty (for ex., APA or a regional org like SPUR in SF) as a student member - they're usually quite affordable. Then go to those open functions - you'll be able to network effectively. Also, try getting involved in the alumni committee at your school.

    At my school, the people who really got ahead got as involved as possible outside of the classroom. One guy in my class kept business cards on him and would follow up with guest lecturers. Others went to the alumni networking events. It's not always the top students who have the most opportunities - rather those who extend themselves do. This is not to say that you should be bullish at every networking opportunity. Rather, by finding out what these folks do, you can also figure out what you want job-wise, which will allow you to focus your job search down the road.

    All three programs are great. Personally, I balanced schools & costs (scholarships) in both applying and making my decision. Though I haven't been *thrilled* w/my grad school experience, I am happy that I went through with it, and won't be in debt from grad school afterwards which is a relief. I don't know if this helps, but I'm sure you'll do fine regardless of where you go!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Dec 2006
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    midwest
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    I would add it is never a bad idea to seek face time with people, whether you are doing it before, during, or after school. I will be visiting Georgia's MLA program in a couple of weeks and am not only setting up informal appointments with a couple of faculty, but also informational interviews at 3 design firms in Atlanta and 1 in Athens. I will probably do the same for each school I visit. I'm not planning on going back to school for a few years. However, I want to take my time and start building up my network now as well as find out which firms offer both planning and the type of design work I want to do after school. Hopefully, I will also find some that pay more for doing both professions

  4. #4
    Member
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    Thanks for the replies so far. Someone once said--and I was skeptical when I heard it--that, "graduates of places like Penn, Berkeley, and MIT tend mainly to hire other graduates of places like Penn, Berkeley, and MIT." Is there any truth to that?

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