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Thread: Bird in hand; Is it really worth two in the bush?

  1. #1
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    Bird in hand; Is it really worth two in the bush?

    So after months of fruitless searching, I finally make it through a interview process and grab the brass ring.

    Job #1 (Approved by County Council, ready to start in a few weeks)
    Eastern Panhandle of WV, 60-70 miles from DC, pay is comfortable for the area and can help pay down debt, position is listed as a Zoning Admin (mostly trained as a planner, interned in a Zoning office, but feel more connected to Planning than I do Zoning) with partial planning responsibilities working for a County Council.

    and on the other hand

    Job #2 (Just got offered first round interview yesterday, will take time to play out)
    MidSouth, Large City, No connection beyond a visit on a road trip 5 years ago. pay: -18% pay diff from job #1, position listed as Planner 1 with Land Development and Design Division (Job focus is something I would be motivated and driven to work harder within) with full on Current Planning doing Zoning text amendments, Form-based codesPUDs, Subdivision plats, etc. working for a Large Municipal City Govt.

    In the small WV town, housing is limited. It's a one industry town and most opportunities for culture and life are in DC, which isn't a big deal but cramps my cosmopolitan personality.

    Obviously Large MidSouth City has food, culture and nightlife and entertainment and a multitude of housing options to meet most needs. But my personal liberal view point might be opposite of the most bible-belt conservative region.

    I've been offered the job and approved by the County Council in EPWV and have played goldilocks trying to find housing and found a single solid option.

    The MidSouth City position is just a first round interview at this point, and the interview date is before the proposed start date of EPWV gig.

    Is a bird in the hand (EPWV job, job strays a bit from my professional goals and less personal compatability), worth two in the bush (MidSouth City, with a job more my professional focus and personal compatability)?

    Please feel free to share your opinions. I appreciate your insight.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Can you find out how long the interview process is for the big city and then ask the small town for a week or two to make a decision? Then you might have two birds or your decision is made for you.

    I don't know the jobs so I'll just throw out some basic stuff.

    For the small town you'll do more permitting, enforcement, and planning cases. All the day to day stuff. It's a good solid background. Besides, you don't get to do the planning work until you know the zoning side - usually.
    For the big city, you won't have to deal with enforcement as much. I expect you would do a lot of permitting and get either planning cases or a piece of the planning case.

    For you viewpoints, you learn to keep your personal views in check. Bible belt or small town, they tend to be conservative either way. You'll actually have better luck in the bigger city just because there are more like minded people.
    If small town life is going to kill you, you might reconsider the job. There is no life in a small town unless you're married and have kids. If you want to hang out at the bar and talk about the pit boss riding your ass in the mines, small town WV sounds good for that. You said it's a one industry town, guess what they talk about all day. Then again, if you're okay running into DC for weekends to see friends, enjoy. You just have to be able to separate yourself from the town and either learn to love it, or hate it and move on.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Bird in the hand is the best bet. First, it is a planning job and your first one at that. Planning jobs are hard to get. Second, if it's not want you want, put your two years in and go elsewhere. In that time, you will have practical planning experience and resume fodder. While at the job, broaden your horizons as much as possible. Finally, it will help you decide whether you to stay in planning.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Question: do you have a job now? How badly do you need a job, right now? What I'm getting at is can you afford to be choosy? If so I'd turn down the one you have the offer for if you're not that sure, keep sending out resumes, and see what happens (maybe you'll get lucky and get the offer for Job #2, or another one you like).

    Another thing to consider, though, is your relationship with the people you'd be working with. That's huge. If you felt you had a really good rapport with the staff and whoever would be your boss for Job #1 then that should help make a difference with your decision. Did you get a good vibe from them? Did it seem like these would be good to people to work for/with? The importance of having a great boss and coworkers should never be overestimated.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DiscoEatsUrbanism View post
    Obviously Large MidSouth City has food, culture and nightlife and entertainment and a multitude of housing options to meet most needs. But my personal liberal view point might be opposite of the most bible-belt conservative region.
    Just don't allow paint yourself into that corner at this point in your career...
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  6. #6
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bubba View post
    Just don't allow paint yourself into that corner at this point in your career...
    Dittos. I bet you'll be surprised how much liberal thinking there is in many/most of the large MidSouth cities - City proper that is. If you're potential job is with a suburb, perhaps less so, but really people are generally pretty tolerance of differences as long as you're not a 'jerk' about the differences.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by Bubba View post
    Just don't allow paint yourself into that corner at this point in your career...
    Also, don't post before the caffeine fully kicks in, or you end up with stuff like "just don't allow paint yourself..."
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by DiscoEatsUrbanism View post
    So after months of fruitless searching, I finally make it through a interview process and grab the brass ring.

    Job #1 (Approved by County Council, ready to start in a few weeks)
    Eastern Panhandle of WV, 60-70 miles from DC, pay is comfortable for the area and can help pay down debt, position is listed as a Zoning Admin (mostly trained as a planner, interned in a Zoning office, but feel more connected to Planning than I do Zoning) with partial planning responsibilities working for a County Council..
    I hate to say it because its never good etiquette, but you can always accept the offer you have and start, and keep on looking in case it isn't a good fit.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    This is a tough one. I like the idea of asking Job #1 if you can take a week or two to contemplate. I am sure they expect that you are looking at more than one job and this seems like a reasonable amount of time to me. But is it long enough to know the status of Job #2?

    With respect to political/social views, I actually think you may fare better in a larger place than a smaller one, even if it is in a region with a reputation for more conservative leanings. Politics of small towns take on a very different dynamic than in a more urban environment, regardless of where folks fall in the spectrum. I think you would be surprised how easy it is to find like-minded progressive people in places like Birmingham, for example. In small towns, every knows who you are and it can be difficult to negotiate the socio-political landscape - in my experience.

    Rygor's comment about considering the people you work with (and the work environment in general) is a very good point. The crappiest job can be engaging and fun with the right coworkers. Conversely, the most interesting work can be an awful experience with a bad work environment. You are going to spend a lot of time at this place, so this really matters.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  10. #10
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    Update

    For anyone who cares, I ended up taking the small West Virginia town over the big Mid South job. Mid-South interview was super rushed and felt very impersonal.

    After 6 months on the job, I've gained a tremendous ability with site plan review and understanding and interpreting codes. But a wacky small town office social pecking order scenarios makes things tenuous. I look to put 12-18 months in and look for a new job. Gotta move back to a dense urban core with more diversity. Anyway, things have smoothed out in my life also; so for those who took the time to respond to my temporary quandry I am grateful for your wisdom. Hope all are well.

    /end dispatch

  11. #11
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    that's great!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Good luck! You'll learn a lot in small towns just make sure you keep tabs on who knows who for the politics of the job.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian MD Planner's avatar
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    Ah, I know exactly where you are. I think you will find 12-18 months is probably the right amount of time to put in there. West Virginia isn't really looked upon too favorably in planning circles (especially counties) so unless you're in love with West By God you will want to move on and gain additional experience elsewhere.
    He's a planner, he's a dreamer, he's a sordid little schemer,
    Seems to think that money grows on trees . . .

  14. #14
    Thanks for the update and good luck
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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