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Thread: Working before grad school

  1. #1
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    Working before grad school

    Hi all, I don't know if this topic has already been covered or not, but here it goes. I'm entering my senior year of college and had an unpaid internship in a local planning office last semester which I loved. I'm a history major but I've taken classes like economics, GIS, geology, architecture and public policy I believe are pertinent to planning. I'm also writing a thesis in architectural history on a local commercial district next year.

    My question is whether or not I will be able to get an internship or other paid job at a planning department after I graduate for a year or two before grad school. I don't think there's any way I can go to grad school straightaway since I'll be too burnt out. What are my prospects for getting a paid internship at a planning department or firm? Are there other jobs requiring less education related to planning that I could work before committing to grad school? I thought about maybe doing some surveying work, but I'm not sure how much education that requires, either. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by TribeGuy View post
    Are there other jobs requiring less education related to planning that I could work before committing to grad school?
    A bit related and a bit OT -
    I would not recommend my job path before grad school -
    oilfield wireline rigger; hotel/convention including the kitchen, construction, and security; sewer line maintenance; and unemployment (included living in my car).
    Last edited by JNA; 30 May 2008 at 10:16 PM.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Your GIS class is a big plus if you have completed some type of project that can be applied to the real world. Employers who are looking to hire entry level employees really strive to seek out those with GIS skills because more than likely you might find yourself working with data entry and map making. With that said, you shouldn't have a difficult time finding an entry level internship. Do you really want to work at the bottom of the chain for the next two years though?

    My advice :Go to grad school and get it over with. But f your saying you will be too burnt out, then you shouldn't even be thinking about grad school because nothing is going to burn you out as much as those two years.

    There are many schools that help place you in internships while you attend school. Therefore, you get the exerience and education all at once. I'm going to Ohio State this fall and they have a very extensive internship program. Save yourself some time. Get it over with. You may not want to go back to school once you get into the real world.

  4. #4
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    You might try working as a planning technician or GIS tech, those jobs generally do not require any more than a bachelors and you can get experience in the field. I worked for 2 years as a planning tech before going to grad school and I really think it strengthened my application and job possibilities afterwards.

    IMHO, having a little work experience before graduate school really enriches the experience in school and matures you a bit to be able to handle graduate school.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  5. #5
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    By all means work several years before going to graduate school. It will greatly strengthen your application and once you get to school you'll have a much better idea of what you want to get out of your education.

    Try and find a job well before you graduate, though. If you can't find anything with government, look into consulting firms. Often times they are less concerned with what degree you have and more concerned with what you can do.

    -Tom

  6. #6
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    Work for a few years (and save, save, save). Yes, it becomes very difficult to do this when you are working for a few years and making more money over time (because then you are going back to school and living like a poor student again).

    If you can swing it, I would recommend working as long as you can also get some managerial experience (which is a good transferable skill). However, I'm not sure how you can do this without having the planning degree yet. Working as a GIS manager is very IT/networked based, and I dont' know how the managerial part of the job would transfer over as a mid or senior level planner.

  7. #7
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    I graduated with a MURP two years ago, and have been unemployed ever since. Meanwhile, colleagues who took their time, let their theses hang, etc but gained experience are now working. I also know a couple of people who may never get planning degrees who are doing well in the field. Employers seem to care very little about the degree but very much about a tiny amount of experience that you may have in the specific area that they're hiring in. Worse, in my case, is that everyone looks at your graduation date and wonders why you haven't gotten hired. But if you took longer to graduate and gained experience, it looks all right. I'd suggest that you take a class here and there and don't be in a rush. It will also help with your burned out factor.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for everyone's responses, they've been really helpful. Right now I think i'm either going to work abroad for a year, intern for awhile, or do a stint as a Coast Guard officer! Decisions decisions...

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