Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 51

Thread: Recent grad can't find job, what to do next?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    28

    Recent grad can't find job, what to do next?

    Background:

    Graduated with a BS in Geography with an emphasis in City and Regional Planning in April 2008 from Grand Valley St. University (Michigan).

    Experience:

    Interned in a paid position my final semester with a small, private land use consulting firm owned by an adjunct prof I had in school doing site plan reviews, staff reports, revising a master plan, some data analysis, amended a zoning ordinance or two, and conducted some mini-studies.

    Situation:

    Continued the internship from April 2008 until August of that same year. My parents had to move out of state right after I graduated leaving me behind to live with a friend. Despite the generous hourly pay and a second job I still couldn't make ends meet (gas had hit over 4.00/gallon at that point) and had to move to Ohio with my family. Since then I've been working at a Kroger just to pay off what few bills and get health insurance.

    I've had several interviews, mostly in the public sector, and even was short listed and even asked back for second interviews a couple of times but never was offered the position, some of which I believe ended up going unfilled.

    I'm still looking for that entry level, foot in the door type of job that I can at least make a basic living off of, even outside the field, but have had no luck. I can barely find things to apply for let alone land an interview. As I continue to job hunt I've considered going to grad school (Ohio State) and have even applied, I've also considered taking a GIS course or two at the local community college. But both of those would cost either some or a lot money and I'm concerned that such an investment will not end up paying off.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    10,127
    I understand where you are coming from, and Ohio has been a tough place to find work lately in the planning field. Columbus is a great place to be though as there really are some great opportunities.

    Although it might not seem like a good idea, grad school at Ohio State will do two things for you: 1. it will get you more education while you look for a job; and 2. Ohio State helps students get internships, which is the foot in the door you are looking for. I know Westerville hires an intern from OSU, and so do many other municipalities from around Columbus.

    In this economy, and this job climate, I would say that more education is better, and any way that can make you a better candidate would be good. It seems that schooling not only fills in the gaps in employment, but also helps round you out to become a more thorough planner. It can't hurt to have a degree that is fully in planning as opposed to having an emphasis.

    Good luck, keep your head up, and volunteer when you have free time. Network, network, network.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    In a profession that has been hit hard with the current economy, it would be very hard to land a job without being mobile on a national scale. In other words, you need to make your way to a major metropolitan area.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Down by Dun Ringill
    Posts
    6,058
    Blog entries
    6
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    In a profession that has been hit hard with the current economy, it would be very hard to land a job without being mobile on a national scale. In other words, you need to make your way to a major metropolitan area.
    Or be willing to relocate to a small town or rural area. Casting a wide net is essential. Apply where there are jobs available. Apply often. Don't be afraid to take a starter job that might not be where you want to be in five years but good enough to last until times get better or a job more fitting of your goals opens up.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2005
    Location
    The Gig City
    Posts
    2,657
    I spoke with my past graduate advisor and dean of student affairs from graduate school. He said it is the worst he has seen in a dozen years that he has been doing student programs and job placement. There are graduate students who can't find work so you are unfortunetly behind them in experience.

    My advice is to just look everywhere, could you consider moving? I think your considering grad school is a good plan to get you through the next 2 years and make yourself more marketable. As for entry level jobs have you looked at all levels of public sector from local up to state? What skills do you have that set you apart? If you need some job search help let me know or check out my blog, see signature. All I can say is hang in there, you are doing the right thing by at least working and keeping your insurance going.
    @GigCityPlanner

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    In a profession that has been hit hard with the current economy, it would be very hard to land a job without being mobile on a national scale. In other words, you need to make your way to a major metropolitan area.
    Ohio is my first choice obviously because of proximity to my family and I really like it. Living in Cincinnati is my ultimate goal. However, I'm not limited to Ohio alone. I have ties to Michigan so that is a possibility. I'm pretty much considering anything in the Big Ten part of the country. I most recently sent an app to South Bend.

    After that I would have to say that my next area of choice would be out east. Then south, then west.

    Going international is not something would desire nor do I feel like I have the background that would make me capable of doing so even if I wanted to.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    Or be willing to relocate to a small town or rural area. Casting a wide net is essential. Apply where there are jobs available. Apply often. Don't be afraid to take a starter job that might not be where you want to be in five years but good enough to last until times get better or a job more fitting of your goals opens up.
    Definitely willing to re-locate. I've found the big problem is just in finding any 'starter' jobs to apply to. APA has a grand total of 4 listed at the moment. It seems as if everyone is looking for 3+ yrs. exp.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    I spoke with my past graduate advisor and dean of student affairs from graduate school. He said it is the worst he has seen in a dozen years that he has been doing student programs and job placement. There are graduate students who can't find work so you are unfortunetly behind them in experience.

    My advice is to just look everywhere, could you consider moving? I think your considering grad school is a good plan to get you through the next 2 years and make yourself more marketable. As for entry level jobs have you looked at all levels of public sector from local up to state? What skills do you have that set you apart? If you need some job search help let me know or check out my blog, see signature. All I can say is hang in there, you are doing the right thing by at least working and keeping your insurance going.
    My only quips with grad school, assuming I get in is:

    1. Money - I accumulated relatively little debt as an undergrad. 2 yrs of grad school would multiply my current debt 10 times what it is now. Not to mention working part-time in a union shop doesn't exactly haul in the big money.

    2. Time - I know 25 is young and settling down and not having kids until after 30 or is fairly normal, however, it is not the goal I had ever set for myself.

    However, Ohio State is very big into the internship program so hopefully those 2 short term sacrifices will net a gain in the big picture.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post

    Good luck, keep your head up, and volunteer when you have free time. Network, network, network.
    What type of places would be good to volunteer at?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Down by Dun Ringill
    Posts
    6,058
    Blog entries
    6
    Quote Originally posted by Johio View post
    Definitely willing to re-locate. I've found the big problem is just in finding any 'starter' jobs to apply to. APA has a grand total of 4 listed at the moment. It seems as if everyone is looking for 3+ yrs. exp.
    APA website is only one job site. I got most of my best prospects by perusing newspaper classifieds in states from Iowa to California. True, the job I got was listed on APA, but that was a small town Alaska community. Also you can check the state or regional planning organizations, which often have job opportunties listed. Also Planetizen.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    As far south of SoCal as I Will Go
    Posts
    5,116
    Quote Originally posted by Johio View post
    Definitely willing to re-locate. I've found the big problem is just in finding any 'starter' jobs to apply to. APA has a grand total of 4 listed at the moment. It seems as if everyone is looking for 3+ yrs. exp.
    Search this thread. If your limiting yourself to strictly your local apa chapter website, and the national site, than you are already hobbling yourself. Remember, if a job posting is on the national site, competition will be fierce. Tide posted a job link called jobster. (don't remember the link). It has been a great tool for me over the last few days finding new job leads. In addition other posters have had suggestion on digging up new job leads that are not tied to APA. Search the threads and you will come up with some great suggestions.

    Jobs are out there, it is just a matter of how creative are you willing to search for them and how you set yourself apart in your resume/cover letter.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    28
    I usually frequent:

    APA - National
    APA - State sites (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois. Pennsylvania)
    Monster.com
    Careerbuilder
    Planetizen
    Cyburbia
    Local newspapers
    Ohio Municipal League

    Thanks for the leads regarding Jobster and some of the other sites and Twitters, wasn't aware of them.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2005
    Location
    The Gig City
    Posts
    2,657
    As mentioned on my blog but not on here yet, try twitter. Create an account just for job searching. There are at least 4-5 users, computers, to follow which post jobs from all over multiple times a day. I found the UIC Cuppa Careers the best.
    @GigCityPlanner

  14. #14
    Definitely willing to re-locate. I've found the big problem is just in finding any 'starter' jobs to apply to. APA has a grand total of 4 listed at the moment. It seems as if everyone is looking for 3+ yrs. exp.
    Also remember that there are a TON of federal jobs listed on usajobs.gov that never appear anywhere else. Not just applicant pooling listings, but real vacancies.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Syndey, Australia
    Posts
    130
    Or you can try looking overseas. Asia-Singapore, Vietnam, China employ planners as well. In fact this might be the way to go for future employment as America owes china an awful lot of money. You are only young once, go see the world. Its not like anyone in the USA is hiring anyways. Grad roles are being filled by baby boomers who's pensions were pissed away by Wall Street. With a socialist in office with no financial responsibility, few jobs will be created soon. Unless someone gets the banks to loan money and Obama focuses on small to medium sized businesses instead of Wall Street bailouts, urban planning is a lost cause. You can be one of thousands of applicants to the HUD jobs for Obama. Time to look overseas or some hole in the wall town.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2009
    Location
    The Old Dominion
    Posts
    411
    Quote Originally posted by expat123 View post
    With a socialist in office with no financial responsibility, few jobs will be created soon. Unless someone gets the banks to loan money and Obama focuses on small to medium sized businesses instead of Wall Street bailouts, urban planning is a lost cause. You can be one of thousands of applicants to the HUD jobs for Obama. Time to look overseas or some hole in the wall town.
    Yes, it's Obama's fault there are no urban planning jobs. It has nothing to do with the deregulatory trends (that began under Reagan) that led to the housing bubble. You conservatives crack me up... 11 months in and everything is the "socialist" president's fault. What a bunch of crap.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Syndey, Australia
    Posts
    130
    Who said I was conservative? There are more than 2 parties and political views out there bubba. The housing bubble was every US President since Jimmy Carter's fault as well your Congress. Regardless, Obama and career government employees dont know how the private sector works. Sadly America currently has the highest unemployment rate in the developed world, with the exception of Ireland.Obama has done nothing to correct the problem. I call them as I see them. All you have to do is look at his approval rating, and most agree with me. No he cant. True innovation is led by entrepreneurs and small to medium sized firms. America was great for this, but sadly the current administration is destroying this. Obama is actually good for urban planning jobs. Just ask China. SOM, HOK and other firms are prospering there right now. And the US taxpayer owes billions more plus interest. So as I said there are jobs in urban planning, just not in the USA. Its when people think that anyone besides GWB will make a good president. GWB was bad, but the bad policies continue under Obama. Think outside the box that is all.

  18. #18
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    10,127
    Quote Originally posted by expat123 View post
    Who said I was conservative?...blah, blah,blah...Think outside the box that is all.
    Well thanks for hi-jacking this thread and trying to make it political... Please do me a favor and leave politics to the FAC. Otherwise, don't interject them into threads. It is just in poor taste, and unfair to people who are asking valid questions.

    Anyways, since you said you don't want to go international...Ohio does have opportunities, just not full time ones. I guarantee that if you call a planning agency (City of Columbus, Dublin, Gahanna, etc.) and tell them that you want to volunteer for a couple hours a week, they would be able to find a job for you. See if you can join any citizen meetings in Westerville, talk to the planning dept. there, they are all good people. Get your name out there, so when people do have jobs available, they can know you have the skill that they are looking for, and they think about you for the position.

    Interning, volunteering, and networking might not make the most money, but they are things that will build your marketablity. If you want to get away from the Columbus area, you are not going to find a much better picture in Dayton, Cleveland, or Cincinnati. Indianapolis might be better...

    What I would do is start looking at where you want to go, and making calls, volunteering and getting to know the people who work where you want to work. I hired an intern this year who was basically a volunteer. It worked out great for both us and her, as she got a resume piece, and we got some work done. Also, she got a reference. For 10 hrs a week of time, I think she got a pretty good deal.

    As for Ohio State, it is what it is. You are right, that you will probably go in to debt a bit, but as an in state student it won't be horrible. You have to be sure that is what you want to do, otherwise it will be a waste of time.

    Again good luck!
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Above urban19's plane field
    Posts
    2,386
    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by expat123 View post
    There are more than 2 parties and political views out there bubba.
    Leave me out of this.
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  20. #20
    Cyburbian PrahaSMC's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Couch Surfing
    Posts
    128
    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    In this economy, and this job climate, I would say that more education is better, and any way that can make you a better candidate would be good. It seems that schooling not only fills in the gaps in employment, but also helps round you out to become a more thorough planner. It can't hurt to have a degree that is fully in planning as opposed to having an emphasis.
    As someone in a similar position, I am going to disagree on this particular point.

    If you are like most in the field, planning is a professional interest, not a true passion (work to live, not live to work). While it is generally true that higher levels of education correlate with higher future earnings, this is not an ironclad guarantee. A master's degree in planning is a relatively narrow, pre-professional degree. And in the job market, planners compete with architects, landscape architects, engineers, lawyers, and other professionals with backgrounds in economics, finance, political science, etc. Unfortunately, the inverse is not true; a planning degree does not open up such a wide-range of employment opportunities, relative to many other advanced degrees. That is not to say the skills acquired in becoming a professional planner are not valuable, rather the piece of paper that says "MUP" is not perceived to be nearly as versatile, unless it is supported by other credentials (specifcally, experience).

    So, unless you are positively sure your life would not be complete without a career in the field of planning, I would advise you to hold off on grad school until you have a better reason for doing so, beyond waiting out the recession. The upside, IMO, would be realtively limited, while the downside is pretty high. For me, I incurred relatively little debt in grad school, but I still face the equivalent of an expensive car payment every month after you factor in my undergrad degree. Also, consider the opportunity cost of the decision. For instance, in my case-- entering grad school in a stable economy and leaving in a terrible one-- pursuing a master's in planning delayed the start of my professional career by at least 3-5 years.

    I'm not trying to sound overly pessimistic, but cleary you've had time to assess the landscape of the profession. Competition for jobs is intense, enrollment in grad programs continue to grow, and the economy is in shambles. Don't add a mountain of debt to your ledger just because people tell you growing up that more education automatically equates to more money and a better career. Grad school is an enormous investment, one that occasionally delivers a poor ROI.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    the delta
    Posts
    1,203
    Quote Originally posted by PrahaSMC View post
    A master's degree in planning is a relatively narrow, pre-professional degree.
    What is "professional" degree?

  22. #22
    You can be one of thousands of applicants to the HUD jobs for Obama. Time to look overseas or some hole in the wall town.
    Actually, HUD currently has fewer job listings than most other federal agencies. I'd guess you really don't know what you're talking about.

    Praha: I agree with everything you said. It's too easy for kids to buy into the supposed prospects of more education. Universities are all too willing to feed this presumption because they're the one type of business in this economy that is making money hand over fist.

    I might be tempted to ride out a poor economy as a student, but not if it meant taking on more debt. There are just too many unknowns these days, and planning holds no promise of a high-paying job, but mostly the promise of a poor paying one.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    What is "professional" degree?
    Universities are typically divided up into sectors of learning, such as liberal arts, hard sciences, and professional areas of study. As society has become more complex post-industrial and into the information age, there are more divisions of labor and more professional avenues of learning. A professional degree primarily teaches you to fulfill the duties and basic requirements of entry for a given profession, like a physician (MD), lawyer (JD), business manager (eg MBA), or planner (MUP, MCRP, etc.). Depending on the profession, there are varying degrees of accreditation for the program, since stronger professions typically resist entrants to keep both standards and pay high (such as doctors and lawyers). Obviously, it is much easier to both get into planning school and become a planner than to get into medical school and be a doctor. But both would essentially be professional schools offering professional degrees. A PhD in medicine or planning, on the other hand, would be primarily an academically-oriented learning program, and not a "professional" avenue, in that that is not the specific degree required for entry into the profession. For planning, this wouldn't matter much, since planning as a profession is less defined and insular as the medical profession, with a world of difference when it comes to regulation of members. Thus, planning doesn't really require any one specific degree, but any planning degree is going to be somewhat professional in nature, except the PhD, which is academic in nature. I hope this isn't confusing, I'm kind of rambling I guess.

  24. #24
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    10,127
    Quote Originally posted by PrahaSMC View post
    As someone in a similar position, I am going to disagree on this particular point.

    If you are like most in the field, planning is a professional interest, not a true passion (work to live, not live to work). Unfortunately, the inverse is not true; a planning degree does not open up such a wide-range of employment opportunities, relative to many other advanced degrees. That is not to say the skills acquired in becoming a professional planner are not valuable, rather the piece of paper that says "MUP" is not perceived to be nearly as versatile, unless it is supported by other credentials (specifcally, experience).

    So, unless you are positively sure your life would not be complete without a career in the field of planning, I would advise you to hold off on grad school until you have a better reason for doing so, beyond waiting out the recession. The upside, IMO, would be realtively limited, while the downside is pretty high.
    I agree with you that if you are not interested in planning, don't get the degree. All I am saying is that I would be more willing to hire someone with a master's degree in planning, than someone with a bachelor's in geog with a planning emphasis. If you don't want to go into planning, then get another degree by all means. I agree that an MUP isn't going to get your foot in the door in another profession. I also don't think waiting to get your degree IF (and I say IF) you want to go into the planning field, is a bad idea. It gets you education (which makes you more marketable), it gets you experience (through internships), and it gets you networking options (profs, alumni, etc.).

    There is no right answer obviously, but you must look at all your options and decide what is best for you. I agree strongly with Praha though, if you aren't sure you want to be in the planning field, don't just get a degree to get it. If you want to just get random education for no reason other than the recession, get an MBA.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  25. #25
    Cyburbian PrahaSMC's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Couch Surfing
    Posts
    128
    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    I agree with you that if you are not interested in planning, don't get the degree. All I am saying is that I would be more willing to hire someone with a master's degree in planning, than someone with a bachelor's in geog with a planning emphasis. If you don't want to go into planning, then get another degree by all means.
    To clarify, I'm not inferring that he/she is not interested in planning, I'm saying that pursuing a master's in planning might not be financially responsible, even for someone with a strong desire to work in the field. Not only does an MUP not transfer well to other professions without experience, but it hardly guarantees a second look even for planning positions.

    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    I also don't think waiting to get your degree IF (and I say IF) you want to go into the planning field, is a bad idea. It gets you education (which makes you more marketable), it gets you experience (through internships), and it gets you networking options (profs, alumni, etc.).
    This sounds good in theory, but if the education is narrowly marketable and an internship is basically a requirement for any would-be planner in grad school, you haven't really made yourself more competitive for anything... just spent a lot of money to have the same basic creds as the hundreds of other unemployed planners.

    The reality is, six months after you finish your master's, the student loan payments kick in... For those of us with an MUP and no job, this is an extremely daunting predicament. It's also easy to say "network," but this is such a nebulous concept. I've worked alongside public and private sector planners, government officials, architects, engineers, etc. in both my internships and volunteer position for the past two years. I've established some really good relationships, but it doesn't matter; no one was hiring in 2008, no one is hiring now, and no one is hiring in the near future. If you find a PD that is impressed with your work, that's great, but it doesn't change the reality that cities and states across the country are facing massive budget shortfalls and layoffs. Not to mention in my state, the trend is towards regionalization... end the one city, one department norm to have leaner, more efficient public services. This results in fewer planning jobs, not more.

    I guess all I'm trying to do here is help with some perspective. It's all well and good to talk about volunteering and networking, but when you are making a decision like this, what really comes into play is money. If you spend upwards of $50,000 on a degree that doesn't land you a job quickly, you are going to be in a really tough position. Trust me.

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Recent grad - next step?
    Student Commons
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 27 Oct 2011, 6:30 PM
  2. Replies: 5
    Last post: 20 May 2011, 2:37 PM
  3. Replies: 1
    Last post: 22 Feb 2011, 10:45 AM
  4. Recent grad: should I get my masters?
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 13 Jul 2010, 7:50 PM
  5. Replies: 1
    Last post: 27 Jan 2009, 3:35 PM