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Thread: Wondering how I get a job in a more populated area

  1. #1

    Wondering how I get a job in a more populated area

    I just graduated with my masters degree in planning, and basically all of my internships have been in small towns either at the city or county level. However, I am still relatively young and want to move into a more populated area in either the land use or transportation planning fields. I am seeking my first career level job (which is proving difficult these days) and I was wondering if my experiences in small towns are a disadvantage or if they are easily transferrable to a larger urban area. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian MazerRackham's avatar
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    I was in much the same situation as you coming out of school and my first "real" planning job was in a city government with 300,000 population. Not super huge, but decent size for certain. In my experience, your skills are much more important. Planning basics are the same everywhere, but issues quickly become more complex in larger cities.

    My advice is to stress the experiences you've had that directly apply to whatever job you are applying for. All else being equal, I would have no problem hiring a planner whose experience was in small towns. In fact, you likely coordinated directly with elected officials and influential citizens, which often is not the case in larger areas. Negotiating local politics/egos in the small town setting can often prove difficult. If you were successful at that, you are definitely worth a look from a hiring manager.

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    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by aspiringplanner View post
    I just graduated with my masters degree in planning, and basically all of my internships have been in small towns either at the city or county level. However, I am still relatively young and want to move into a more populated area in either the land use or transportation planning fields. I am seeking my first career level job (which is proving difficult these days) and I was wondering if my experiences in small towns are a disadvantage or if they are easily transferrable to a larger urban area. Thanks.
    Small towns are a lot better place to start, especially if you can get into one that has already has a city planner that may be looking for an assistant. In the small town, you will get so much more experience with many different aspects of planning, as opposed to a larger organization where you will likely get pigeonholed into working in a specific area.

    You can move into a large city and find a job with one of the smaller, suburban municipalities. That's just me!
    ...my lifestyle determines my death style!
    - Metallica

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Look at it as paying your dues. Everyone would like to jump to the big time right out of college. Unless you are extremely talented grapically -- not good looking but can draw or design exceptionally well --, you, like everyone else has had to --, will pay your dues out in the small towns. You will be likely filling the spot of someone who has paid some of their dues and are now moving to the next stage of their career.

  5. #5
         
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    I'm not quite as optimistic as these other guys.

    Be careful. Starting in a small town can get you pigeon-holed as a small town planner. As the planning field becomes more competitive and overcrowded, you might end up working for a small town or suburb for the duration of your career. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if your primary career objective is to work in a large city, small town planning may not be the best way to start.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I grew up in a large urban area and now am the sole planner for a smaller (25K) rural city. As others have mentioned, the benefits of being in a small town are that you know ALL the political and social capital in the town. You get to meet and work with business presidents, CEOS, and everything in between. The downside is that you also answer your own phone, take your own minutes, and all of that work (which is fine by me). I shied away from a big city because I didn't want to be a "park planner" or the "neighborhood X planner". I wanted to be the city planner. Also, the amount of influence is far more in a small town than a large metro area, which can be good fro trying to advance your career. Of course if you want to do public transportation planning, huge commercial development planning, and the like you won't find that in a small town.

    What the most important thing for you to do is think about where you (and your potential family) want to end up. First and foremost, however, do whatever you can that pays the bills and the rest will fall into line. And you never know, maybe you'll fall into something you love that would have never imagined 5 years ago (I know I did.)

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by danthonyjr View post
    As the planning field becomes more competitive and overcrowded, you might end up working for a small town or suburb for the duration of your career.
    Do you really think the planning field is becoming more competitive and overcrowded? Is that because of the lack of supply of planning jobs, or an increasing supply of planning graduates?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I grew up in a large urban area and now am the sole planner for a smaller (25K) rural city. As others have mentioned, the benefits of being in a small town are that you know ALL the political and social capital in the town. You get to meet and work with business presidents, CEOS, and everything in between. The downside is that you also answer your own phone, take your own minutes, and all of that work (which is fine by me). I shied away from a big city because I didn't want to be a "park planner" or the "neighborhood X planner". I wanted to be the city planner. Also, the amount of influence is far more in a small town than a large metro area, which can be good fro trying to advance your career. Of course if you want to do public transportation planning, huge commercial development planning, and the like you won't find that in a small town.

    What the most important thing for you to do is think about where you (and your potential family) want to end up. First and foremost, however, do whatever you can that pays the bills and the rest will fall into line. And you never know, maybe you'll fall into something you love that would have never imagined 5 years ago (I know I did.)

    Good luck.
    I couldn't care less if I became pigeonholed. I think I am the "work to live" type of person, and I think I would become bored out of my mind in a small town. Also I am single, and I don't see how I can meet new friends and relationships in some one horse town. In fact I am kind of desperate to get out of here.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by aspiringplanner View post
    I couldn't care less if I became pigeonholed. I think I am the "work to live" type of person, and I think I would become bored out of my mind in a small town. Also I am single, and I don't see how I can meet new friends and relationships in some one horse town. In fact I am kind of desperate to get out of here.
    That's a huge part of it. I don't know many people in this town who are young professionals - they are out there but it's harder to find them. If you're single it would be very hard in a small town. Luckily I am married and don't need to worry about that side of things, but if I was single my opinions would absolutely change.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by aspiringplanner View post
    Do you really think the planning field is becoming more competitive and overcrowded? Is that because of the lack of supply of planning jobs, or an increasing supply of planning graduates?
    It has long been both. The planning industry has long had an imbalance of available positions and job seekers, who also include people who are interested in planning but don't always have the professional training, experience, or credentials. I don't think there is a remedy for this problem other than to downplay the profession in hopes that it will keep more people from entering the field. The media has long portrayed planning as a "hot" profession that is sure to see huge growth. Yes, the number of planning professionals has increased, but so has the general population. The general public is misled thinking there is always an abundance of high-paying, high-prestige planning jobs waiting and all it takes is a planning degree. Even in better times, some of us have had to compete even for the smallest boring unpaid internships just to get our foot in the door.

    Bottom line, career fields expand and contract. Because planning is ultimately tied to land development, this cycle occurs faster in planning than other fields.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  11. #11
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    The media has long portrayed planning as a "hot" profession that is sure to see huge growth. The general public is misled thinking there is always an abundance of high-paying, high-prestige planning jobs waiting and all it takes is a planning degree.
    The only time I can think of when Planning would boom is when housing is booming - they need current planners to go over all of the applications. As far as long-term planners, cities and counties don't just add them on because current market conditions mean a region is growing. Look at the Phoenix area, many planners were laid off and from what I know most of those were "current-planning" planners.

    For the education and dedication required for planning in most parts of the country the wages don't match up. It's kind of like how the media says teachers are in demand. Maybe in South Chicago or downtown Houston, but not in the places most people would want to work - planning is the same way.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    For the education and dedication required for planning in most parts of the country the wages don't match up. It's kind of like how the media says teachers are in demand. Maybe in South Chicago or downtown Houston, but not in the places most people would want to work - planning is the same way.
    Hmm, I was afraid of that. Everybody wants to work in a desireable area. I wonder if I am consigned to work in the exurbs. I need to make myself extrordinary in some way to stand out, so I can live where I want to. Maybe I should get a civil engineering degree also!

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