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Thread: Transitioning from planning to politics?

  1. #1
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    Transitioning from planning to politics?

    I am currently finishing my thesis for my MAURP and working in the public sector. My undergrad is in political science so I have always had more of an affection for the policy side of planning. Does anyone have any advice on the best steps to take to get into a career as an aide or a legislative assistant?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by lrd View post
    I am currently finishing my thesis for my MAURP and working in the public sector. My undergrad is in political science so I have always had more of an affection for the policy side of planning. Does anyone have any advice on the best steps to take to get into a career as an aide or a legislative assistant?
    Hmmmm...well you might be on the wrong forum, because planners are not taught to be ass kissers, which is basically what aides/legislative assistants are. On the bright side, most poli sci and city administration programs must be turning ass kissers by the dozen, because that's all I ever see...i.e. dumbass city administrators that don't know shit and can't take the heat if they do (know shit).

    But seriously on the bright side, you are pursuing a planning degree. Press on, and congrats in advance.
    ...my lifestyle determines my death style!
    - Metallica

  3. #3
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Well I have a poly-sci undergrad and worked in politics for a brief time before doing the planning masters. Political jobs are all about who you know, they aren't advertised really. Join your local 'party-affiliated' group, volunteer at some fund-raisers, do some campaigning this fall for your favorite candidate. I interviewed for a position at a congressional office and I got that interview because I had been an intern in their office and volunteered at fund-raiser events. Get out there or go to DC/Tallahassee...
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  4. #4
    I went from working for a community development corporation to helping politicians get elected. At one point, I was ready to run myself, but decided not to (that's for another thread).

    If you have community organizing skills, and you use your position in planning to meet lots of people, the transition is pretty smooth. Others have made the transition. The hardest thing is raising money. If you are a public employee, its usually illegal to ask for campaign contributions. Usually, you wouldn't have the resources to quit and run for office while not working.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for you help! I figure I'll stick with planning while I become involved in the community.

    Vagaplanner, while you insight is appreciated, you sound pretty jaded. I believe the proper etiquette of "forums" is if you don't have anything nice or helpful to say...then DON'T say anything. I hate to break it to you but planning is all politics.

  6. #6
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    Policy in planning

    Hate to say it, but I agree with vagaplanner. I might have said it differently, but I agree. You can go the political route or you can go into planning. The two do not mix well. I had a prof who paraphrased that planning was the most political job with the least amount of political power. This is really by design.

    Our profession in one that is supposed to stay out of the politics. We are supposed to be impartial and while a planning background would be helpful for policy analysis there are just too many dollars on the table for the planners to be political. Especially in land use.

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