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Thread: Changing careers - is grad school the best place to begin?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Sep 2008
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    Washington, DC
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    Changing careers - is grad school the best place to begin?

    Hi folks,

    I'm a newbie to Cyburbia and the world of urban planning. In the course of evaluating the type of work I'm passionate about, the issues that I care about, and the job skills I'm most interested in acquiring or already have, I've stumbled upon the field of urban planning. I've been out of my undergrad program for just over five years, and have been working in charitable/social service nonprofits since - mostly doing management things.

    I'm prepared to apply for graduate schools this fall, to begin studies in Fall 2009. I'm narrowing down my short list of schools that seem to offer the types of concentrations that interest me most, but I've got this nagging feeling that perhaps graduate programs aren't very interested in career changers who do not have explicit urban planning experience.

    Any thoughts? What have your experiences been? Are there ways of transitioning into the field without a masters degree (my BA is a dual-degree in Peace, War, and Defense, and Political Science, although I did take some geography courses that are relevant, including one that pulled from the work of Andres Duany and James Howard Kunstler), and eventually going to a planning masters program? Or would you recommend trying to convince a grad program now in my personal statement why they should take me?

    Thanks!

    Stacie

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2005
    Location
    New Hampshire Seacoast
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    the planning job market is really bad right now. without a degree or direct experience, it's going to be really hard to break in. assuming you have decent grades, you'll be able to get into grad school, and things will likely be better when you come out the other side. grad school planning students come from all backgrounds--you'll be just fine.

    but I've got this nagging feeling that perhaps graduate programs aren't very interested in career changers who do not have explicit urban planning experience.
    this is NOT true. i'm sure others will vouch for this as well. it will, however, be vital to your grad school applications to make a good case as to why you want to study planning. good luck!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks for the perspective!

    I do a lot of marketing - time to start marketing myself.

  4. #4
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Dec 2007
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    Front Range, CO
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    Quote Originally posted by dcstacie View post
    Hi folks,

    I'm prepared to apply for graduate schools this fall, to begin studies in Fall 2009. I'm narrowing down my short list of schools that seem to offer the types of concentrations that interest me most, but I've got this nagging feeling that perhaps graduate programs aren't very interested in career changers who do not have explicit urban planning experience.
    I did a mid-life career change, and the profession needs more folk (IMHO) who have good life experience in something other than planning. Not a problem for me thus far, and hopefully by the time you graduate the job market will be much better than what it is now.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
    Registered
    May 2004
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    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)
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    4,773
    Quote Originally posted by dcstacie View post
    ...I've got this nagging feeling that perhaps graduate programs aren't very interested in career changers who do not have explicit urban planning experience. ...
    Grad schools are interested in your ability to pay current tuition, and your willingness to join the alumni assn afterwards.

    Medical schools have a vetting process; some specialize in "alternative" students, those returning to the workforce, or otherwise re-inventing themselves. Planning, not so much. I bet you could google up references to AARPies taking planning school classes or actually enrolled in the program, some with limited prospects of ever actually working in the field.

    Folks change careers all the time. "We are all temps" came out around the time of the first major auto layoffs, late last millennium. Grad school is one way.

    HTH

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