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Thread: Urban planning in Americorps?

  1. #1
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    Urban planning in Americorps?

    Hi everyone,

    I've been looking for very entry-level urban planning jobs for a while, to no avail. I'm a soon-to-graduate senior at college--a history major--and even the most entry-level positions seem to require GIS or a BA in urban planning. I've volunteered for a community planning group (and have read a lot of books on the subject), but that's about all the experience I have.

    Which got me thinking: are there any positions in Americorps that could give me some UP experience before I apply to grad schools? I'm very interested in neighborhood revitalization and community development, which seems to be a good match with Americorp's aims.

    So, is anyone aware of Americorps urban planning-type jobs? If not, are there any other sorts of positions open to an interested college grad with few credentials?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian PrahaSMC's avatar
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    Well, as far as the real job market goes, I really don't know what to tell you... I have a B.A. in economics and am wrapping up my MUP this spring and have had zero luck applying for both internships and entry level positions.

    I have recently turned my attention to service organizations like Americorps and have found they do have positions available in the areas of economic development/community organization. I feel as though this could provide potentially valuable experience, but these positions are also quite competitive, especially in this economy.

    I would recommend exploring some of the programs available through Americorps Vista. Best of luck!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    AmeriCorp Program

    I would recommend checking out the RARE Program which is through the University of Oregon which is an AmeriCorp program. (http://rare.uoregon.edu/) I am doing it this year and have had a great expereince. Some projects I am working in include implementing an Urban Renewal Plan, creating downtown development standards and working on an affordable housing project. You will also receive 9 graduate level credits and a stiped for about $5,000 when you complete the year to use towards future education. If you have any questions about the program feel free to message me. The applications are due by May 15.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, it looks like the RARE program requires experience I don't have... I guess I'll look through the Vista programs and see if anything there sounds interesting!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Not a problem, if you are real interested in the field I would recommend emailing them and just saying what expereince you do have even though it is minimal and that you have a strong interest in the field etc. Just my thoughts but I do know they have recevied a ton of applications which is expected in this econonmy. Also, just a heads up that there are people in the program currently who went to school for things other than planning so don't feel that you aren't qualified because you didn't get a degree in planning...

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Another option would be the Student Conservation Association, which offers internships with a variety of agencies (mostly national parks). The longer internships also qualify for Americorps. As you might expect, most of the positions are pretty far from anything planning-related, but there are a lot of positions available and some of them have aspects that would be at least somewhat relevant to a planning career, such as GIS and natural resource management issues.

    I did an internship that wasn't at all planning-related (at least not in a conventional sense...), but it did result in a paying job after I finished that will nicely fill the time before I go to grad school. Not a bad result.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Gambier, OH. I know someone there (and I bet you know who it is, with a glance at my avatar).

    When I was with A Large City north of your border, we had four Americorps students for the summer. They were matriculating at A Nearby University. (Trying to avoid cross-border animosity here.)

    Glanced at Americorps postings yesterday; they seem to be prevalent on local Craigslist boards. You might browse university towns or big city ones.

    HTH

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I did Americorps VISTA for 2 years before going to graduate school for planning. I don't really think it helped me get accepted to school, but it did expose me to planning - a field I had never heard of prior to Americorps. I did public health awareness, neighborhood association organizing and stuff like that in 3 different neighborhoods. It was awesome. I highly recommend it.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Habitat for Humanity participates in AmeriCorps and I think there are other opportunities that would be planning related as well. City Year is another program that provides good hands on community based experience and would probably make you a better planner in the end having a close up view on how planning has failed kids in urban areas.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek View post
    City Year is another program that provides good hands on community based experience and would probably make you a better planner in the end having a close up view on how planning has failed kids in urban areas.
    Yes! I am a City Year graduate and I cannot speak more highly of the organization. You will build character and develop skills that will translate to any profession. I worked full-time as a teacher's assistant in an elementary school located in a very poor urban area in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. I gained planning experience by organizing a group of parents, residents, business owners and others to beautify the surrounding blocks. It culminated in a neighborhood festival on the school grounds and a clean-up of a trashed vacant lot across from the school. All of this went on my resume and helped me in my planning career.

    SamK: Both Cleveland and Columbus have City Year branches.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I worked at a community development corporation via AmeriCorps for a year doing housing development work. It was basically an actual job at the organization that was just funded via AmeriCorps. It played a huge role in landing me my current planning gig. I was knee deep in the nuts and bolts of housing, working on proformas, meeting with contractors and architects, etc. Highly recommended. I loved it.

  12. #12
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    MacheteJames--what was the name of that program?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    LISC AmeriCorps was the program I went through. Not sure of it's current status, given the constant budget woes the program faced when I was in it.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Faust_Motel's avatar
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    My Americorps experience included an internship in an office that dealt with wetlands protection and was supervised by the Planning Department. That led to a job in that office after AmeriCorps and my eventual intro into the world of planning.

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