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Thread: Considering urban planning - best way to get a taste of the profession?

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    Considering urban planning - best way to get a taste of the profession?

    I am considering a career change from marketing to urban planning, however before committing to a two-year masters program, I hope to get first hand experience with the profession. I would like to offer my services as a marketing manager and contribute to a firmís marketing efforts at no salary, in return for the opportunity to observe the day-to-day nature of the profession and perhaps shadow a member of the staff for a day. Is this is a realistic option, or more specifically does anyone know of any planning firms that might be interested in such an arrangement? Opportunities in the New York metropolitan area would be ideal. Any other suggestions for ways in which I could get first hand experience with planning would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your help.

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    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    If you would like to use marketing in the planning field then you would be best suited to work in economic development. You would then be able to market communities to prospective employers in an effort to increase the employment base of the community or region you work for. I would suggest looking in that direction.
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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I am sure that if you are willing to do some work for free, MANY places would love to have you. Internships and short term projects could be ways to get involved. I know many places around me are looking for interns, because they are cheaper than hiring more help.

    Good luck!
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    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    Hey, my office isn't far from Thiells, NY. I work for the public sector...but we do urban planning. PM me.
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    Cyburbian
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    What type of marketing experience do you have? Marketing in the private sector can mean a couple of things:

    (1) Marketing to promote the firm and its services (face to face networking, website development, brochure design, designing exhibits for trade shows and manning the booth, maintaining relationships with existing clients or reintroducing your services to former clients).
    (2) Marketing as a service itself: This could be market analysis, retail analysis, industry targeting, etc.

    Unless you want to work in marketing at the firm before going back to school, I think just sending a tailored resume and coverletter expressing interest in the firm/curiosity about planning will be enough to earn an informational interview (and may potentially lead to shadowing a planner for a day).

    Hope this helps-

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    thank you all

    Quote Originally posted by tsc View post
    Hey, my office isn't far from Thiells, NY. I work for the public sector...but we do urban planning. PM me.
    Thank you all for your feedback... I greatly appreciate it. TSC, I am not sure how to send private messages on this board but I would like to speak with you further. I can be reached at asp922@yahoo.com at any time.

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    my marketing experience...

    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    What type of marketing experience do you have? Marketing in the private sector can mean a couple of things:

    (1) Marketing to promote the firm and its services (face to face networking, website development, brochure design, designing exhibits for trade shows and manning the booth, maintaining relationships with existing clients or reintroducing your services to former clients).
    (2) Marketing as a service itself: This could be market analysis, retail analysis, industry targeting, etc.
    Nrscmid, none of my marketing experience directly relates to planning, but most of it would be applicable in the first context you described - marketing to promote a firm. I have done extensive work in website development and online marketing, along with brochure design and both direct marketing and sales support in general.

    Thank you for your advice. Beyond a one day shadow, do you think it is reasonably to try to find a firm that will take advantage of my marketing services over a period of a couple of months, during which I could continue to observe the nature of the planning work ongoing? Do you believe I would even benefit from this more passive observation or do you think I really need to be shadowing someone in order to learn more about the nature of the work?

    Thanks again.

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    Thank you.

    Thank you all for your feedback.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by asp922 View post
    Do you believe I would even benefit from this more passive observation or do you think I really need to be shadowing someone in order to learn more about the nature of the work?

    Thanks again.
    You will always learn more from the former than the latter, especially if you are fortunate to work directly on projects with planners. As a planner/designer, I have learned a ton about landscape architecture by working side by side with LA's for the past 5 years, so I think I will have a greater understanding of the profession when I go back to school (I would never have been able to pick up on this shadowing an LA for a day).

    Marketing is always an important tool to bring to the table. In tough times like today, it is very important to have staff that can bring in new clients. What types of firms/cleints have you worked with? AEC firms (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) would be a huge plus, as they deal with similar types of work.

    In smaller firms, the marketing is often done by all of the workers. In mid-size firms with at least 20-30 workers at one maybe two offices, there might be at least one marketing specialist. Larger regional, national, and international firms with several offices spanning several states or counties will usually have marketing departments who don't do the planning projects at all. They will be the department working on the exhibits for trade shows (state and/or national) as well as representing the firm there while the planners from the firm might be attending the workshops at the conferences or doing presentations, website design, cut sheets, sales, public relations, or even preparing applications for awards (APA, ASLA, ULI, AIA, etc.). Again, in these larger firms, marketing is a separate department which affords different types of opportunities to work with planners.

    Depending on the geographic location, it might be difficult to earn anything more than just an hour long informational interview with a planner (many firms still aren't hiring anyone). Even hiring someone willing to work for free requires training and a learning curve to overcome. It's not impossible, but may require hard work and dedication on your part. Although f you are looking in a rapidly growing area where work is needed, your situation will be much better.

    Hope this helps-
    Last edited by nrschmid; 16 Jun 2008 at 7:48 PM.

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