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Thread: So really...how long did it take you to find your first planning job?

  1. #1
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    So really...how long did it take you to find your first planning job?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm a soon-to-be recent graduate (Masters in Urban Planning). I've been actively looking for a planning position for just under 3 months at this point. Right now I am working part-time in a city where I interned...my previous boss left and unfortunately they decided to not fill her position. I am here simply to help in the transition and there is very little chance that this will turn into something permanent at this point.

    I have interviewed for 3 positions with the State of Michigan (1 was a no, 1 they decided not to fill after all, 1 I'm waiting to hear back on). I had a phone interview with a private planning firm for an entry level planner position where the person told me that if I was "really all that good I would have been hired by another planning firm already" (HELLO! No one else is hiring and frankly, I don't really think I want to work for you now.).

    This is not an invitation to a pity party (frankly, I'm sick of listening to me whine about being jobless)...but just a plea for some information about what other people went through and how long it took them to land that first job.

    I have already expanded my search to non-planning positions, and I'm still hopeful, just a little beat up and discouraged.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    are you tied to a certain geographic location? if not, then cast your net wider. as i mentioned before, i was going to grad school in NOLA and applied up and down the east coast, literally from the FL Keys to Massachusetts. and ended up securing a job in Massachusetts before i graduated. i believe i started looking for jobs in May and began my job in September.

    times are tough, planners with experience are competing with those fresh out of school. keep applying for positions and interviewing if possible. i think i learned something about myself, interviews, or the process during each interview. this lead me to be a stronger applicant in successive interviews.

    good luck!!
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    It took me about a year and a half to land a position that led into full time work. Granted, I was pretty picky about where I wanted to work (Detroit or older suburb of said City) and the economy was slow. It did take me a bit longer because I was probably working about 50-60 hours a week and going to grad school while looking for work. Ideally I should have put more time into the search.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  4. #4
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I started throwing my resume around for any planning-related job I was even remotely qualified for across the whole of the United States close to the start of my last year of school, and didn't get a job offer until the 2nd week of April that spring. And that was during decent economic times. Hang in, there, you'll find something!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by emu_planner View post
    Hi everyone,

    I'm a soon-to-be recent graduate (Masters in Urban Planning). I've been actively looking for a planning position for just under 3 months at this point. Right now I am working part-time in a city where I interned...my previous boss left and unfortunately they decided to not fill her position. I am here simply to help in the transition and there is very little chance that this will turn into something permanent at this point.

    I have interviewed for 3 positions with the State of Michigan (1 was a no, 1 they decided not to fill after all, 1 I'm waiting to hear back on). I had a phone interview with a private planning firm for an entry level planner position where the person told me that if I was "really all that good I would have been hired by another planning firm already" (HELLO! No one else is hiring and frankly, I don't really think I want to work for you now.).

    This is not an invitation to a pity party (frankly, I'm sick of listening to me whine about being jobless)...but just a plea for some information about what other people went through and how long it took them to land that first job.

    I have already expanded my search to non-planning positions, and I'm still hopeful, just a little beat up and discouraged.

    Thanks!
    I graduated a little over three years ago, back in 2005. I found a job within two months, but it wasn't in one of my preferred locations, and wasn't a jurisdiction living up to all the planning ideals they teach you in grad school (not that there are many that could). I just wanted to get working asap.

    At the time I graduated I felt like I had options, even if I had to relocate. In the current market it seems like there is nothing out there- anywhere- so I feel fortunate to have entered the field when I did.

    My advice: don't limit yourself geographically, unless you absolutely can't leave MI for some reason.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    It took me about 7 months to land a job, but at the end i had 3 offers to choose from (2 public sector 1 private) with another 2 interviews pending when i accepted my current gig. I started looking for in Jan and our school had two job fairs that i heavily attended (feb and may, but the may one was geared towards internships). I interviewed up and down California from Los Angles, to San Diego, small towns in the central valley and the Sacramento region. I submitted applications at every single opening i found. After about 9 interviews or so i was getting disappointed but then all of sudden i began getting job offers and that actually continued after i took my position and this was when the economy was just beginning to recover from the 2001-2002 recession. So hang in there!
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  7. #7
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    It took me about 8 months from the time I actually started looking. In the end, the job that I got ended up being one that I never even applied for (I got an interview for my current job based on a resume I had submitted about a year earlier for a job in a totally unrelated department/field but within the same municipality... they really did keep my information on file!).

    I have been here at my current job for about 18 months now and although a few full-time people have left, nobody has been hired since I was.

    I talk to fellow students at Wayne State University (I am currently taking my final class now) and of those who are working in the field, most of them have been in their position for a year or more and of those not working in the field, the consensus seems to be that there is basically nothing out there... especially in the Southeast Michigan region.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  8. #8
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Found first job after:

    one phone interview

    one personal interview

    This job was 25 miles away from my school location and I was hired one month before graduating undergrad.

    Started work one week after graduation.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Graduated in summer, attended the ASPO (that is not a typo) confab in NOLA in October. One of my interview locations (comprehensive planner for a city) hired someone with more experience, but they offered me their planning technician job. (If memory serves, the salary was a whopping $12k, again, not a typo...gas was around 30 cents, but I didn't own a car.) The job started in December.

    Hey, you said "first" planning job.

    Will you be attending the MAPA confab in K'zoo? Bring resumes and business cards.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    About....

    It took 3 weeks to get hooked up with an internship during the second sememster of grad school from once I started looking. Got my first full time gig after 13 months in the internship. The rest is history as they say
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  11. #11
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    For me, five months. This was back in 1989, in the days before the Web, when job hunting involved a subscription to APA's late, lamented JobMart magazine, dropping your resume into already-stuffed employer boxes at state and national planning conferences, regular drives to all the city halls in an area to see job postings, and pouring through out-of-town Sunday newspapers at a large library or bookstore. There was another publication whose name escapes me, but it wasn't associated with the APA, that had local government planning, community/economic development and managerial job listings.

    My resume was in the files at the APA's resume referral service. (I don't think it exists anymore, although APA members can upload resumes on planning.org,) An employer found my resume through the referral service, I had a phone interview, flew down a few weeks later for a live interview (first time west of the Mississippi!), and I landed my first real planning job.

    One thing I do miss about the good 'ol days of job hunting: all you needed to apply was a cover letter and resume. Today, employers want you to complete a lengthy application, and often answer a supplemental questionnaire.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    I started in the field in 2000 when times were good and people were hiring planners in the Southeast left and right. I had a job lined up before I even graduated from the Masters program.
    Satellite City Enabler

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    I landed my first real planning job about a year after graduating. My final year in grad school, I worked for the chamber of commerce and basically stayed with them until the local planning agency had an opening. In the interim, I did apply to several other agencies/cities, but ultimately didn't have any luck.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    18 months after I graduated college. My biggest problem was interviewing and knowing how to read people. I interviewed for 20 positions over the course of 12 months and gave up (I was still working at a couple of planning internships). I worked in customer service at Sears 6 months without really looking for a planning job. I thought seriously about going back to school for a law degree.

    Then I buckled down, finally rehearsed my interviews, landed 2 interviews in a couple of weeks (1 public and 1 private) and received 2 offers by the end of the week. This was back in '05 when the economy was still humming. Turned down the better paying public job to diversify my portfolio (working here has been a HUGE help when I go back for a landscape architecture degree).

    If I knew back then what I know now, I probably would have a VERY nice job working for a county. No regrets.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    I started looking/applying this past February and landed a few interviews. Interviewed for my current position the Monday after I graduated with my Master's in early May and accepted the position a couple of weeks after that. I had already begun serious networking the fall semester of my last year in grad school. I was one of the lucky ones from my graduating class and also came to the table with 2 years experience before school which really helped. I was willing to relocate which got me alot more interviews since I did a large search. The job I ended up taking was one I first found posted here on the Job Board...thats right, thank you Cyburbia!
    Last edited by beach_bum; 17 Sep 2008 at 1:23 PM.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Seemed like for ever.
    Graduated May 91- Job offer Oct 92.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  17. #17
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    It took me about a year from the end of my internship to my first permanent position. I cast my net far and wide and interveiwed a bunch. Eventually I landed a position in a place I wasn't thrilled about but it turned out good. From there I found my present position, in the place I wanted to be.

    A happy ending.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  18. #18
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I got my first "real" planning job about a year and a half after I got my undergrad in Public Administration. Although during this time I had two very good, paid internships.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    I landed a job with a private sector design/engineering firm as a CAD tech prior to graduation. I landed my first public sector planning job 6 months after that.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian amyk's avatar
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    I had an interview scheduled right after I graduated from college, in December 2002 (I was planning to move to Washington from Arizona to live with family and job hunt, but postponed to stay in Arizona for the interview). After graduation I called to reconfirm my interview to find out that they had already filled the position .

    Moved to Washington state working part-time at a restaurant and job hunting full-time. I was hoping for something in the northwest, and after 9 months, I accepted an offer back in AZ with the same county that dissed me the first time. Spent the next 2.5 years in Arizona before moving back home to Alaska.
    "That's the difference between me and the rest of the world! Happiness isn't good enough for me! I demand euphoria!" ~Calvin and Hobbes

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I had an intership my senior year that became a real job. I was lucky i guess.

  22. #22
    maudit anglais
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    Graduated at a bad time (1996). Took me a year to find my first planning job.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian
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    I graduated in May of 2007 with an undergrad in Planning and was offered a job in August in California. I decided not to move that far with house prices that high (whew!) and got my current planning job in December of 2007. The town I now work in is 4.5 hours from my hometown.

    Most of my undergrad peers got planning jobs within 6 months of graduation. There are always open jobs somewhere around here (Iowa). The pay isn't as good as on the coasts but a job is a job and I earn about half the value of my house every year. You could not do that in California or Florida with an entry-level position, the housing prices are too high.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Graduated Dec. '99 with a B.S., and started my first planning job in May '00. I interviewed for the job before I had even graduated, but their first choice for hire didn't work out, and I wasn't offered the job until 4 months later.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Graduated at Christmas, was working by Valentines Day. Cold resume drop. That job lasted for 5 months, then I was laid off and out of work for nearly a year.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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