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Thread: Moving to Chicago - broad education, limited experience, seeking career advice

  1. #1
    Member
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    Jul 2009
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    Montreal
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    Moving to Chicago - broad education, limited experience, seeking career advice

    I'm a Canadian moving to Chicago in the spring and I'm wondering if anyone has any career advice.

    My education is pretty broad. I've got a BA in Economics, a BA in Planning, a MUP, and a Graduate Diploma in Computer Science. I graduated four years ago and have been self employed since then as a software developer working with advertising firms to develop digital media projects (web sites, videoconferencing systems, interactive kiosks, etc).

    I'd like to move back towards the planning world but I'm not entirely sure what area would be best suited to my skills. Ideally I'd like to find a firm that could use a digital media specialist who has an understanding of planning issues. But to be honest I've been doing tech stuff since graduation and I have no idea if such a job exists.

    So any thoughts or advice would be helpful, and especially anything related to working in the Chicago area. Also, I really have no idea what sort of salary range I should be looking for. Like really no idea at all. So if you can suggest any similar sort of jobs and what they would pay in Chicago I'd be very interested.

    Thanks in advance for any comments.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Dec 2006
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    I went to school in Illinois for my BUP and worked in planning in Chicagoland for the past 6.5 years. I also did volunteer work with the state APA chapter. Work has dried up here. Depending on what area of planning you want to work in, I would say some of it dried up 3 years ago. My last job (private sector) laid off 2 more staff this last month. Competition is very fierce for even internships. I was laid off in May, and am currently relocating several states to the west to begin a midlevel planning job next week.

    Your best bet is to have political connections with the community. This will also help increase your chances for hire in consulting. However, the private firms will still be counting on you to use your connections to bring in work for them.

    I think there is alot of planning work to be done just not in Chicagoland right now. We also overbuilt in anticipation of the Olympics and I think that is going to hurt the metro area as it is now oversaddled with debt. Finally, the planning profession in Chicagoland is ALWAYS oversaturated with local planners as well as planners looking to relocate for work.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  3. #3
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Feb 2004
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    Chicago, IL
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    Someone from this company: http://www.placevision.net/blog/ came and talked to our class awhile back. Perhaps this is what your looking for.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Dec 2008
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    Syndey, Australia
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    Are you nuts? Stay Canada. Better health care, better pay, better unemployment.
    Someone posted a bus driver job in Toronto right now paying 22 per hour, which is about 45k per year Canadian. This is more than someone with a Masters in the USA.

  5. #5
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    jsk1983, thanks for the tip, I'll check them out.

    I hope that the Chicago job market isn't quite as bad as nrschmid makes it out to be. I don't really have an option about going somewhere else since my wife is going to school in Chicago.

    As for expat123, you're being a bit too harsh I think. Yes, Canada is a lovely place (though a bit cold for my liking) and the healthcare situation in the US just seems crazy to Canadians and most other people in the world. But Chicago's an amazing city with lots of exciting things going on. I'd rather be doing something interesting in Chicago than driving a bus in Montreal. Incidentally, here in Montreal bus drivers start at around $50,000, which is in the range of $48K US, with of course all the union benefits, pension, and so on. When you think about it it does sound sort of appealing...

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Dec 2008
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    Syndey, Australia
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    SF, Chicago, and NYC are all flooded with a pool of applicants. I worked in SF in 2003-04, Many young planners have parents that will support them so in many cases the winner of many entry level jobs will be the lowest bidder. Add the housing costs of these cities and you got a bad combo. You would get much better experience and pay in a smaller market, and probably more respect. Illinois and CA are broke so all the public sector planners are fighting for any scraps left over, ive heard of people with masters and several years experience taking 35-40k jobs.

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