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Thread: If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?

    I will be applying to MUP programs in the next few months, and after reading some of the depressing threads in this forum, namely the "How long to get your first job", "Side-jobs for planners", and "Lowest salary you've seen for a planning job" , I started to think. What, if anything, would you guys do differently if you could? Not be a planner? Go to a top private school? Go to a regional public school to save money? Worked in a different city? Anything?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Not so much do anything differently, but keep working, keep learning, go to get my MBA or JD in 6 months or so, and stay somewhat related to the field, but in an area that pays a hell of a lot more. I'm no idealist, so just pay me.

    I'm with you Victory...after reading all this message board for awhile you wonder how professors can make the profession seem so rosy in college.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Assuming that I knew I was going to end up in planning, I would have chosen classes in grad school that had more of a planning concentration. Where I went to grad school didn't have a pure planning degree at the time, but I could choose my classes as I saw fit.

    I also would have taken the thesis option instead of the "paper and work credit" option. I would have had a published paper, and I would have been able to consider a PhD if I'd wanted to during my recent time unemployed.
    The cookies are worth the drive

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I would have gone to law school like my Dad told me back in '85, but alas -

    actually, I have a lot show for over 20 years of work so really, the only (other) thing I wished I had done during these last 20 years is get my Master's...

  5. #5
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    I would have gotten an undergrad in engineering and a Master's in planning.
    Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.

  6. #6
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    My classmates who concentrated in real estate seem to have more interesting jobs, and the ones who concentrated in design seem to have a bit more fun (get to be more creative).

    If I had more time I would have taken a PoliSci and/or a public finance class. PoliSci to help Councilfolks think it through faster (despite my dad being a campaign manager) and public finance to help everyone think through side effects of development (houses drain the treasury but attract businesses, commercial adds to it but detracts from QOL, etc).

    I went out of state to a University despite the year of higher tuition, I wouldn't do it over and go to top private school unless my parents were rich.

    I'd also like to point out that it is far more common to see gripes than "oh! everything is wonnnnderful!" threads. You will see this with the public too - if no one shows up, they aren't interested and/or you've done something right.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I'd probably have done a stint in the Reserves or something (maybe even full-time armed services) to help pay for college (and subsequently avoid outrageous loan payments).

  8. #8
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I would have shifted focus to something else (completely different) or I would have gone into design (still a goal).

    Sometimes I think I should have gone for the double English/Sociology major and gone into writing or teaching (college).
    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 Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    I would have gone to law school like my Dad told me back in '85, but alas -

    actually, I have a lot show for over 20 years of work so really, the only (other) thing I wished I had done during these last 20 years is get my Master's...
    I'm right with ya sister. I wanted to go to law school but was too affraid of failure. Oh. And I did get my masters though it sucked 5 years of my life away.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    I would have gone to a different arch school (one that focused more on masterplanning).

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    I would not have started college at the univ my mother preferred, but at the one where I ended up, in an undergrad UP program. (As a transfer student, I was scrambling to take classes during the trimester offered, rather than in sequence.)

    I believe that this would have given me a more solid footing as I entered the job world.

    And I would have been born about five years later, thus taking advantage of the nascent field of bicycle programming. (Many's the time I've been asked to volunteer to help get a program going, while someone who came along later is the F/T hire. Sometimes I end up explaining Bicycle Planning 101 to these people, who tend to not be cyclists.)

    In terms of other brass rings I woulda coulda reached for, there are a number of personal lifestyle choices that I wish had gone in a different direction. Perhaps if I had held a long-time stable position in one jurisdiction, I'd have been in the right place to meet Mr Right.

    Got my fingers crossed that the mucho dinero I'm about to drop on the state confab pays off, and soon. (A vendor did a sales call today, and I was thrilled to have someone to talk to.)

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Can somebody tell me if my plan sounds a bit naive, or just plain stupid? I am planning on applying to MUP programs in a few months like I said, and I'm aiming for the best school possible....hopefully one of those planetizen top 10 schools. After that, I want to try to get a planning job with NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation for a few years(2011-2013/2014). After that, I'd like to transfer roles, possibly do project management on the land development side of things, or maybe try to get into consulting. Essentially....try to use what I learned in planning to get a related job that pays (a lot) more money. Am I dumb? Is this just not going to happen?

    p.s. Bike programming/planning sounds really friggin interesting.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    I wouldn't change a thing, I have been very fortunate, I am married to my best friend.
    Our lives have taken some strange turns. We have had to move a lot. We have had to do the commuter marriage thing and with the current economy may have to do it again. But we have each other.
    A lot of our friends are dead and some were younger than us, some were our age and some were older.
    I do volunteer work and often realize how fortunate I am. Some of the people that we are helping are people who worked with us as volunteers the last few years. So we are all vulunerable.
    So even though I have been in some strange places and had some very strange things happen, but I am alive and have a wonderful family.
    When I went for my undergrad, I went VA at a school near where I worked. We had small children at the time and I considered myself lucky that I had VA to pay for my education. I wouldn't do anything differently even if I could.
    The one thing that I have learned that you have to keep learning and keep an open mind. At one point I thought that I had my life mapped out and some other people had different ideas. So go for your dreams but be flexible enough to make changes when you need to.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I would have gone gay, not gotten married nor had children.

    Seriously, I love my sons and glad to have played a part in raising them.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    fixed quote tag

    After that, I'd like to transfer roles, possibly do project management on the land development side of things, or maybe try to get into consulting. Essentially....try to use what I learned in planning to get a related job that pays (a lot) more money. Am I dumb? Is this just not going to happen?
    Anyone that is more informed than me on this, feel free to chime in, but my research on this leads me to believe that if you are planning to work for a consulting firm or a project management role you are better off with a MBA.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 02 Oct 2008 at 9:34 AM.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by CubbieBlue View post
    Anyone that is more informed than me on this, feel free to chime in, but my research on this leads me to believe that if you are planning to work for a consulting firm or a project management role you are better off with a MBA.
    Depends on what you want to do in consulting. If you want to make the most money, own a firm. An MBA might help on the entrepreneurial side (I might go that route down the road). An MBA can also help you in real estate development or economic development. There are plenty of owners who have an MUP, or even a BArch, BLA, or an BEng.

    New York is expensive. You will make more money, but a lot of more your take home pay will be eaten up by living expenses (similar in CA).

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    I would have gone gay, not gotten married nor had children.

    Seriously, I love my sons and glad to have played a part in raising them.

    No kids. Was married. Doing the "gay thing" now. I tell ya, being a married fake was easier..

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    i wouldn't have gone to grad school right after undergrad, i would have taken some time off, figured out what i really wanted to do, and get some professional experience, instread of where i am now, almost 25 and never had a real professional full time job...and finding it quite difficult to get one!

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Victory View post
    Can somebody tell me if my plan sounds a bit naive, or just plain stupid? I am planning on applying to MUP programs in a few months like I said, and I'm aiming for the best school possible....hopefully one of those planetizen top 10 schools. After that, I want to try to get a planning job with NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation for a few years(2011-2013/2014). After that, I'd like to transfer roles, possibly do project management on the land development side of things, or maybe try to get into consulting. Essentially....try to use what I learned in planning to get a related job that pays (a lot) more money.
    You might review the various threads related to "which school provides the most wooo factor for prospective employers," which I can summarize as: it doesn't matter.
    Also, you are being very specific, which is okay. I will suggest having high hopes and low expectations; your stated career goal is likely one of those "wait for someone to die and be the right person at the right time" type of deals.

    p.s. Bike programming/planning sounds really friggin interesting.
    It didn't exist when I started career stuff (my BS is from 1978) and in most places it still doesn't. I have done many ancillary jobs (editor of two bicycle magazines -- big relocations, and not to places I'd have selected) and many volunteer gigs. I've found that having a passionate interest in the field doesn't play well on the resume.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    I am quite happy where I am, but if I could go back 5 years, I would go to law school or get an MBA instead of an MCP.

    Quote Originally posted by Victory View post
    Can somebody tell me if my plan sounds a bit naive, or just plain stupid?
    I would recommend working full-time in planning or a related field while you are in grad school. Those fresh from undergrad and grad school without any real world experience don't really jump to the front of the line (regardless of which school they attended).

    This strategy will also ensure that your salary is high enough to pay off your loans once you graduate. Otherwise, you'll be starting in the low- to mid-30s, despite your advanced degree.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 02 Oct 2008 at 9:30 AM. Reason: seq. posts

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    I would have gotten an undergrad degree in Civil Engineering, Landscape Arch., or Architecture and then the masters in planning, instead of an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    i would've broken up with that guy in college and spent a semester or year abroad.

    but besides that i am happy where i am, and with who i am. i came to the planning field later and after some thought. i'm happy most days, until i see my paycheck or have to answer phone calls from some idiot.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Read the mantra you will find all over this site if you are looking to go into public service

    *The school you go to does not matter, the school you go to does not matter, the school you go to does not matter*

    Spending the first 10+ years of your career to pay back horrid student loans for a NAME has got to suck.

    Overall I don't think I'd change much, college was good to me but the internship paved the way. Planning is a challenging and exciting career but it is very tedious and more oft than not thankless as hell.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  24. #24
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Amen to that! I went to a small state school for my MUP and have never felt it has held me back. Most days I like my job, but I do wonder why a Master's is needed in this field.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    I am happy with the way my career has progressed. I am glad I went to GT and got my master's. It opened up a lot of doors for me. I would not change a thing, you learn from everything that happens to you in life and that is what makes us all who we are.
    Satellite City Enabler

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