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Thread: Recent graduate needs advice about urban planning jobs/internships

  1. #1

    Recent graduate needs advice about urban planning jobs/internships

    The government seems to be on a hiring freeze and the economy has caused many of the employers I had hoped to work with to withdraw from campus career fairs and present an uninviting demeanor. I will graduate in a month with a bachelors in the social sciences and I hope to apply to a graduate urban planning program next year. This gives me about two years time to gain planning experience, yet I don’t know who’ll hire me with a mere bachelors and where I may begin. At this point in time, I am willing to even volunteer and work for free so that I may learn more about planning specializations and the tract I’d want to pursue. I am open to moving to major cities too. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    My advice:
    Apply to grad school, get your master's and while studying, work some internships in and around your school, even for free. The master's will set you right when the economy begins to pick up in about a year and half. Most jobs these days require either one of two things: a) a masters which substitute for a year of experience and gets your foot in the door or b) a bachelors degree and experience. It is really competitive out there in the job field (i have even applied for 2 jobs and was rejected by one and a not heard back about another and have clearly demonstrated i meet the criteria and background these munis are looking for) so your best best is getting that master's.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the advice, but what I can't seem to understand is how some people with a mere bachelors are already in the field and how they got their job/placement. I know back in the day you could work with a related bachelors in the planning field, yet finding something now seems impossible. Anyone out there care to comment?

  4. #4
         
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    Planning is becoming more of a profession. Just as other professions evolved and gradually required increased credentials, so too goes planning.

    The trend in the planning profession is the master's degree as the standard. That doesn't mean there are not capable people out there with other credentials. There are. It simply means that if you want to be able to compete in an ever-competitive job market, you should recognize the trend and be prepared to either 1) follow it or 2) set yourself apart in some way that makes you more desirable for a position than the competitor who has the master's degree.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ToPlanIsMyFuture View post
    Thanks for the advice, but what I can't seem to understand is how some people with a mere bachelors are already in the field and how they got their job/placement. I know back in the day you could work with a related bachelors in the planning field, yet finding something now seems impossible. Anyone out there care to comment?
    I am lucky enough to be working as a planner in the private sector with only a bachelors degree. I was lucky enough to work for another firm as an intern for two years while still in school. During my internship I cultivated my contacts and after graduation used them to find a position in San Diego. Sometimes, in the private sector, its about who you know in addition to experience. During your graduate program you should work hard to build up a professional network, not only of other students in the program, but also practicing planners through APA and ULI events.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ToPlanIsMyFuture View post
    Thanks for the advice, but what I can't seem to understand is how some people with a mere bachelors are already in the field and how they got their job/placement. I know back in the day you could work with a related bachelors in the planning field, yet finding something now seems impossible. Anyone out there care to comment?
    Unfortunately you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I, too, have a BUP and graduated back in late 2003 when the economy was better. A few things helped me stand apart from the graduate students:

    1. A coverletter and resume tailored to the specific position I was applying for (see previous posts)
    2. Several internships in different areas of planning (current planning, park planning, transportation planning, economic development, and GIS) and independent contractor work (Adobe Illustrator, GIS-CAD, and Sketchup)
    3. A large, but well-tailored, portfolio that was included in every job applicaton.
    4. A network of contacts I started in college. My current employer rarely advertises for positions.
    5. A well-prepared and rehearsed interview.

    I agree with Raf's comments regarding internships.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  7. #7
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    San Diego Internship Opporunties

    Hi Nick, I am a recentl gratuated from Cal Poly Slo with a BS degree in City & Regional Planning. Do have any suggestions on where to find a paid or unpaid Intern positon in San Diego. I am looking to build my expereince level until the economy turns. I currently live in Encintias.

    Thanks for your Help!

    Kyle





    Quote Originally posted by NickSticks View post
    I am lucky enough to be working as a planner in the private sector with only a bachelors degree. I was lucky enough to work for another firm as an intern for two years while still in school. During my internship I cultivated my contacts and after graduation used them to find a position in San Diego. Sometimes, in the private sector, its about who you know in addition to experience. During your graduate program you should work hard to build up a professional network, not only of other students in the program, but also practicing planners through APA and ULI events.

  8. #8
    I was like you last year in that I graduated with a degree in the social sciences (human geography) and was worried about finding employment with a mere bachelors degree. Luckily enough, I happened to find a great, paid 2-year internship that will turn you into a well-rounded planner that can find potentially employment even without a masters degree (although that is an excellent route to take as well).

    If you're willing to relocate to Alberta, Canada, you can always check out this internship for next year. http://www.municipalaffairs.gov.ab.c.../intern_41.htm

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Kyle9 View post
    Hi Nick, I am a recentl gratuated from Cal Poly Slo with a BS degree in City & Regional Planning. Do have any suggestions on where to find a paid or unpaid Intern positon in San Diego. I am looking to build my expereince level until the economy turns. I currently live in Encintias.

    Thanks for your Help!

    Kyle
    Hi Kyle,

    Depending on your interest in transportation planning and congestion management, the San Diego Association of Government (SANDAG) currently has openings for two paid interns. Go to their website and click on the careers section (http://www.sandag.org/).

    Although most San Diego region public agencies are in the midst of a hiring freeze due to the current state of the economy you may still be able to snag an unpaid internship with one of them that may lead to paid employment. The San Diego Section of APA maintains a list of are agencies involved in planning (http://www.sdapa.org/resources/index.php). You should go through that list and try to set up informational interviews with planning directors/department heads. Tell them you are looking to get some practical experience and would be interested in volunteering your time.

    Additionally the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at UCSD maintains a list of organizations that employ interns (http://usp.ucsd.edu/internships/internmain.html).

    Your best bet is going to be to network as much as possible and set up informational interviews with local planners.

    Feel free to PM me if you have any more questions.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Kyle9 View post
    Hi Nick, I am a recentl gratuated from Cal Poly Slo with a BS degree in City & Regional Planning. Do have any suggestions on where to find a paid or unpaid Intern positon in San Diego. I am looking to build my expereince level until the economy turns. I currently live in Encintias.

    Thanks for your Help!

    Kyle
    NickSticks has some good advice. It is brutal out there. Have you asked any of your former professors if they know if any of their former students who are currently employed in need of an intern right now? Quite a few of us such as myself keep in touch with our favorite professors just to say hi (such as myself and professor howard) and shoot the breeze. In addition, didn't you need an internship to graduate? Just keep up the search, and remember, an unpaid internship is better than sitting around playing leisure suit larry all day long.

    Quote Originally posted by NickSticks View post
    Hi Kyle,

    Although most San Diego region public agencies are in the midst of a hiring freeze due to the current state of the economy

    Oceanside was hiring for a senior planner, but i am sure since i only had 5 years experience, this probably killed my chances at least getting an interview. (Plus i am sure a lot of seasoned vets went after that job too).

    **sigh**
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for your help & direction. Sandag was looking for current graduate level students for their two positions. I will keep contacting the various cities and private firms in San Diego.

    Kyle

  12. #12
    Kyle, I haven't been successful yet, but I will. I am calling the planning department of smaller cities within a 50 mile radius, leaving voicemails and emailing my resume to whoever is willing to see it. The best they've done is to say they will keep it on file and review it if a position becomes available. The response rate is disheartening, yet I am still hopeful.

    I also had a planner suggest that I look into the smaller NGOs and community organizations that impact community development. After all, planners work in these types of positions as well. So, that's my next move. If you hear of more resourceful ways, let me know.

    I never thought people would not be interested in free labor. Oh well...

  13. #13
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    Where do you live in California?

    Thank & Good Luck!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Oceanside was hiring for a senior planner, but i am sure since i only had 5 years experience, this probably killed my chances at least getting an interview. (Plus i am sure a lot of seasoned vets went after that job too).

    **sigh**
    It looks like the City of Vista is looking for a mid-level Redevelopment Project Manager/Planner. Depending on your knowledge and experience with redevelopment you may want to look into it.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    I got work with only a B.S., 9 years ago. But, it was in a small town in Iowa (my hometown, actually) with a regional planning comission and not much pay.

  16. #16
    Yes, California the sunny state with a $42B deficit. Btw are you only looking in SD?

  17. #17
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    No, I am open to moving!

    Thanks

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Kyle,
    Try looking out of state at this point. Planning is the dump for most of us.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  19. #19
    If anyone is interested, I ended up volunteering for a small city's planning office (they make me do pretty boring administrative stuff, but better than nothing). Feel free to post internship opportunities should they arise. Thanks.

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