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Thread: Help me find a starting position please

  1. #1

    Help me find a starting position please

    I just completed my masters in planning in May and so far there's no luck in finding a job. I went back to graduate school after having my own residential contracting business, and managed to graduate during the worse recession since the early 1980's. I'm in the D.C., area where there is plenty of work, just not for someone starting out in an entry level position. If anyone has advice I'll take it, because I'm not being picky-I'll work for free at this point just to get some experience.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Your situation doesn't seem all that dire to me. It took me eight months to find a job after graduation and it was in better economic times than today. If you're serious about working for free, there is likely a small municipality out there that could use your services. Start sending resumes advertising your free services to the planning departments or city administrators offices. To get a permanent position, you also have to be willing to relocate. You might get lucky enough to find a job in the DC area, but chances are that you will need to go elsewhere. Good luck!
    ...my lifestyle determines my death style!
    - Metallica

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Let me get this right.

    You graduated in May...

    and you are frustrated because it is already a month later and you do not have a job...

    in the worst economic climate since the Great Depression...

    when governments around the country are laying off hundreds of experienced planners?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus
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    When you have gone for a year then you might equal my frustration I experienced back in '91-'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)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    I am a planner in the DC area, jobs are EXTREMELY hard to come by even for very experienced folks. Governments are laying off or in a long term hiring freeze, private firms are shedding folks like last years prom dresses and new graduates are being turned out like the schools are puppy mills.

    Not a good time to be green and looking for a job but as others have said send out lots of resumes telling folks you will work for free, you may or may not get a bite but stay at it. If one locality sparks your interest start showing up at Zoning and other types of public meetings to get a feel for things-make your face seen.

    In the meantime find any sort of job to pay the bills as you could be out of work for quite some time in the DC area.

    Best of luck
    "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!'"

  6. #6
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    My advice:

    Go hammer nails or dig holes for a while until things pick up.
    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

  7. #7
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Check out AmeriCorps if you're really interested in working for low pay. The VISTA program generally requires one year of service, but they pay a stipend (about $900 per month), have free health insurance and usually reimburse expenses. There are a lot of planning-related positions.

    Habitat for Humanity is looking for VISTA volunteers, sounds like a good fit for someone with a background in contracting.

    http://www.americorps.gov/for_indivi...eady/index.asp

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    You're in luck. You live and want to keep working in DC, so I would start filling out the federal job applications (EPA, DOT, HUD, Commerce) or any of the professional associations, lobbying groups, etc.

    If you haven't already, start work on a portfolio fast. Anything that can set you apart from the huge competition will eventually work in your favor.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  9. #9
    I'm in the DC area as well and have been looking since I graduated in May 08, so well over a year. I also tried to volunteer at planning depts. but no takers. So I worked as a temp for 8 months, did an unpaid internship for 3 months, and now I'm doing a paid 10 week internship at a housing nonprofit. After 10 weeks I'll be unemployed again. The internships are helpful since you make connections and gain valuable experience. Every little bit helps.

    Just keep at it. Temp if you can or intern. Most importantly network. That's huge in this town. It's tough. No one from my graduating class in the DC area has a planning job yet and it seems like no one is hiring. Things will get better just be patient.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    It has been over two whole months...any luck? Or are you just a "one post wonder"?

  11. #11
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otto03 View post
    I'm in the DC area as well and have been looking since I graduated in May 08, so well over a year. I also tried to volunteer at planning depts. but no takers. So I worked as a temp for 8 months, did an unpaid internship for 3 months, and now I'm doing a paid 10 week internship at a housing nonprofit. After 10 weeks I'll be unemployed again. The internships are helpful since you make connections and gain valuable experience. Every little bit helps.

    Just keep at it. Temp if you can or intern. Most importantly network. That's huge in this town. It's tough. No one from my graduating class in the DC area has a planning job yet and it seems like no one is hiring. Things will get better just be patient.
    Wait, a planning department turned down volunteer help? Seriously?

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  12. #12
    Yup. I inquired about an unpaid internship and they said they don't offer them. Non-profits are apparently much more open to it so that's been helpful.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Otto03 View post
    Yup. I inquired about an unpaid internship and they said they don't offer them. Non-profits are apparently much more open to it so that's been helpful.
    Instead of asking for an unpaid internship, you might consider changing your approach, contact a different agency, present the skills you offer to the table that meets THEIR needs (see previous posts) and convince them that you are the person to meet those needs (AND you will do it for free). There needs to be something that they need help with that they can't do right now. This may still be a problem since staffs are so much leaner and are responsible for doing so much with less. It's not really an internship so much as volunteer work.

    You can still do this even when the economy is good.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  14. #14
    Thanks! That's a much better approach then I took.

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