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Thread: Student entering the job market

  1. #1
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    Student entering the job market

    Hello everyone. I'm a graduate student getting a MUP and am about to graduate within the year. Based on the current job market and the lack of students being able to actually land a job these days, I'm considering AmeriCorps or some alternative until things get better.

    2 things:

    1) Do you think the employment opportunities for graduates with an MUP will be better or worse than before in a years time?

    2) Would you do AmeriCorps if you couldn't find a job?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chunndr View post
    Hello everyone. I'm a graduate student getting a MUP and am about to graduate within the year. Based on the current job market and the lack of students being able to actually land a job these days, I'm considering AmeriCorps or some alternative until things get better.

    2 things:

    1) Do you think the employment opportunities for graduates with an MUP will be better or worse than before in a years time?

    2) Would you do AmeriCorps if you couldn't find a job?

    Thanks
    Welcome. You will find many of us here that are actively seeking employment whether it is their 1st planning gig, next one from being laid off or the next big thing. to answer your question, i do not have a crystal ball. You can search the threads for what some planners foresee as this being a long recovery, with little to no job opportunities. I think your employment opportunities in general depend on how mobile you want to be, how much you are willing to be paid versus how much you feel you deserved to be paid, and of course, the economy itself. To answer you two questions see below. Good luck.

    1) The same. Remember, there are those out there competing with years of experience versus a newly minted grad for entry level positions. As the economy ramps up (some regions will begin sooner than others like say CA), those with experience will fill the void first usually. There are some on this board that have gone over 2 years since graduation without a job. Stay persistent but try not to get discouraged.

    2) If i were you, i would take this option. Seriously. Take it. If you can afford it, it's a great opportunity to travel, get your feet wet in something planning related, and can tide you over until the job market improves, to which won't be a while for newly minted grads (my guess at least 2 years from now).
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    Thanks for responding CPSUR. It's nice to get info like this from people who are in the field outside of my region.

    1) I figured that might be your answer. I've had several friends apply for entry-level jobs upon graduation and get rejection letters (or emails) stating something along the lines that the employers chose a several candidates with 15-20+ experience. Hard to compete with that.

    2) I agree and am beginning to seriously look in to it

    Thank You!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jdplanner's avatar
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    I agree, and think that the job market a year out will probably be in line with what it is now. I was laid off a year ago, and definately was looking into Americorps as one of my options if I was unable to find employment. I was fortunate enough; however, to land a job at a regional agency, and I think some of the advice offered on this site gave me a good leg up ( and I only had a B.S. and about 2 years of experience counting internships at the time). So, I like to think that landing a job is not impossible.

    I've had several friends apply for entry-level jobs upon graduation and get rejection letters (or emails) stating something along the lines that the employers chose a several candidates with 15-20+ experience.
    Wow!! I knew that entry level openings were getting hundreds of candidates in some cases, including people that were over qualified, but I didn't think that folks with that much experience were applying for entry level jobs. Has anybody in a hiring position run across this too? I hope this is not wide spread....
    Last edited by jdplanner; 20 Feb 2010 at 5:46 PM. Reason: typo

  5. #5
    Keep in mind that many planners have been laid off, and these will need to be absorbed back into the job market once things start picking up. So by the time you get an MUP, you'll be competing against a lot of other planners with much more experience than you have. Even if you have a masters you're not going to have an advantage over someone with years of experience. And yes, if they've been laid off, they WILL apply for entry level positions. They have families, mortgages, and a whole packaged life they need to maintain, so they will compete for everything you will compete for.

    Some people bring up the fact that retiring baby boomers will create more demand for planners, but the recession has removed a lot of savings for those people and they will end up staying in the workforce longer. So I don't think this will play a large factor. Besides, when they do go they will make room at the top, and laid off planners will fill in everything else, leaving no room for you except unpaid internships.

    Some say I am too negative about all this, but the fact is there are many other professions you could get into that would not only offer better prospects in the short term, but that would last better overall and likely pay more over your lifetime. I really can't encourage younger folks to be planners... I don't think that's very responsible given the realities of the economy, and the future of the profession.

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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    I don't think that's very responsible given the realities of the economy, and the future of the profession.
    Elaborate for me on this point. What exactly do you mean by the future of the profession?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    I have mixed feelings about obtaining an MUP. If you have a Bachelors in planning or a similar field, it doesn't make much sense to go for a Masters in planning; instead look at going for something in a related field.

    I went to grad school for planning after graduating with a BA in sociology and political science. Granted I started grad school in Jan of 2006, still when the economy was humming along. By the time I graduated in Dec. 2007, the economy was beginning to show cracks. It took me applying for jobs from August 2007 to March 2008 to land a job, and I feel I was very fortunate to land a job when I did, I feel I just barely squeezed into the door. In order to find that job I applied to over 50 positions and had nearly 20 phone interviews. I applied all over the country in twelve states. I finally landed a position in Indiana (moved from Minnesota to take it) for a good deal lower of a salary than I could have made in Minnesota. I feel my program helped me get a job, as it was very hands on and I was lucky enough to have two internships that gave me close to a year's worth of planning experience before I graduated. My current position took me around nine months to find. I now work for a regional planning organization in downstate Illinois (not a real popular place for young professionals to flock to).

    On the other hand, in my current position, most of my co-workers have a bachelors in planning and seem to be doing alright. Granted most of them were hired before the economy tanked. The only one who wasn't had experience in transportation planning, which seems to be a hard to fill specialty.

    I will echo what CPSU said, the trick is being willing to be mobile and realize you may have to take less pay than you expect. My opinion would you should look at joining AmeriCorps, get some experience and use the educational assistance to pay down your student loans or use it to go back to school if the job market still sucks.

    Good luck with your search, it is tough out there but IMO this is a good profession. I enjoy what I do.

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    Rcgplanner,

    Thank you for the advice and the kind words. Much appreciated.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I expect the employment opportunities for planners and for many government employees (or the contractors who work for government) will be poor for some time. State and local governments are still facing declining revenues for at least 2010-2011. At best, they will stabilize in 2012, but government will take years to get back to the employment levels we were at in 2008. Face it, when teachers and police officers are being furloughed or laid off, we have some serious financial problems. These are sacred jobs to politicians, and we are considerably lower in importance.

    Many planners or recent planning graduates may end up in other fields before it is all over. Those with experience will be better positioned to weather the storm and to take advantage of employment opportunities in the future.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by chunndr View post
    Elaborate for me on this point. What exactly do you mean by the future of the profession?
    The future of the profession is contraction. That is, many planners who were laid off will never be able to re-enter the market because there will not be enough jobs to employ all the planners out there.

    Read this: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/20100...america-future

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Chocolatechip is right and I plan to talk to this over the weekend when I meet with a group of honors undergrad students this weekend. My uni has a wonderful Poli Sci dept and one of the instructors takes a group of students up here to DC to learn about things first hand and he gets a group of alums to talk to the students about their jobs and lives in the DC area. Note I would say the exact same things to grad students.

    I plan to tell those kids:
    How hard the market is for just about any job even in the DC area.
    That working for any level of gov other than maybe the feds is not a sure bet for stability
    Do think long and hard about the choice to go in to planning or related development driven fields
    To get a more wide range education and don't focus all your eggs in one basket.
    For those thinking about high price grad schools the cost of the degree may well not be offset by your career options and coming out of school saddled with so much debt is crazy.
    Clean up your GD Facebook accounts and realize some proffs may be saying you will land high paying jobs after graduation but it's just not the case. Life is not fair


    AmeriCorps is a GREAT idea
    "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!'"

  12. #12
    PlannerGirl... I think in line with this students need to realize that employers and professors may not be thinking in line with their interests.

    Employers benefit by having many hopeful planners in the market because it means cheap (or even unpaid) labor. Professors and academic departments benefit by having a large student body because it means more money for the department and more classes to teach and thus more teaching jobs, and also a more selective program which increases their notoriety.

    So it is particularly dangerous to take the advice of those two groups at face value, since they will more often give advice that support their own interests, even if only unconsciously doing so. Right now, higher education is one of the few rapidly growing industries; it is a big business, and like all businesses, looks out for its own interests first.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    AmeriCorps is a GREAT idea.

    Maybe for the experience during school. I've never bought into the concept of Americorps, Peacecorps, etc. The pay is terrible to the point of embarrasment for degreed professionals. If I am sacrificing such pay, not to mention the ability to work a second job, I should have a greater say in what I accomplish in Americorps. It's one thing to do it for the experience but you could do that with a hard-earned internship. At least the internship would probably provide more relevant skills directly related to your long-term planning goals. An internship, paid or not, is not always +40 hours/week, so you could work 1-2 other jobs to make ends meet.

    If the Americorps were my ONLY way to gain work experience, I would rethink about staying in the profession and going back to school in a different career path with job options, even in a recession. Life is just too short.

    I'm probably in the minority on this.
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post

    I'm probably in the minority on this.
    If someone has been out of work for 6 months or longer and has yet to start their career, doing something lilke AmeriCorps might be just what they need to feel better about themselves, stay busy, and have something to put on their resume. If it's between sitting around at home applying to jobs and getting nothing, and going and doing something with your life, I would choose the latter.

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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    If someone has been out of work for 6 months or longer and has yet to start their career, doing something lilke AmeriCorps might be just what they need to feel better about themselves, stay busy, and have something to put on their resume. If it's between sitting around at home applying to jobs and getting nothing, and going and doing something with your life, I would choose the latter.
    I should have rephrased. If my only option were Americorps or nothing else, hands down I would go back to school in something else. You can do other things in your life besides planning. No matter how passionate you are, it IS still a job.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    AmeriCorps is a GREAT idea.

    Maybe for the experience during school. I've never bought into the concept of Americorps, Peacecorps, etc. The pay is terrible to the point of embarrasment for degreed professionals. If I am sacrificing such pay, not to mention the ability to work a second job, I should have a greater say in what I accomplish in Americorps. It's one thing to do it for the experience but you could do that with a hard-earned internship. At least the internship would probably provide more relevant skills directly related to your long-term planning goals. An internship, paid or not, is not always +40 hours/week, so you could work 1-2 other jobs to make ends meet.

    If the Americorps were my ONLY way to gain work experience, I would rethink about staying in the profession and going back to school in a different career path with job options, even in a recession. Life is just too short.

    I'm probably in the minority on this.
    You make a lot of good points, but I think you are ignoring some of the things that make AmeriCorps an attractive option for a lot of people.

    It's a good option for recent graduates who are seriously considering graduate school but are concerned about plunging into (even more) debt. If you are willing to live very frugally for two years of service AND able to find an assignment relevant to what you want to do, you come out with two years of experience and an Education Award that is enough to cover tuition for grad programs at most state schools. The time spent in the program also counts toward the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, so it could potentially shave a year or two off loan repayment. If the choice is between taking an irrelevant job for menial pay and taking a relevant job for menial pay that will go a long way toward financing your graduate education, I know which one I'd choose.

    EDIT: Just noticed OP is getting a graduate degree, but my point still stands. The education award can be used to repay qualified student loans.
    Last edited by kalimotxo; 22 Feb 2010 at 2:11 PM. Reason: jumping to conclusions
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    A lot of great opinions and advice here from you guys and I enjoy the diversity of it all.

    To agree with what some of you were saying, you are absolutely right about professors steering students into the planning field with promises of the field having great opportunities. When I was applying to grad school the economy had not yet tanked into oblivion and i was told time and time again that there was a lot of demand in the field and finding a job would not be difficult. Clearly that is no longer the case.

    As far as my motivation with joining AmeriCorps, it comes down to this: do i sit at home and apply for jobs that I may never get or do i go and do something that strengthens my resume and allows me the opportunity to move somewhere else and have a paycheck (living stipend), however tiny it is? It's a no brainer. I've been in college for almost 7 years and have been poor the whole time. What's two more years?

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by chunndr View post
    It's a no brainer. I've been in college for almost 7 years and have been poor the whole time. What's two more years?
    Unless you were working your way through school, why have you been in college for seven years?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Unless you were working your way through school, why have you been in college for seven years?
    2 years community college, 3 years undergrad and 2 years (as of Dec 2010) of graduate school.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Don't forget habitat for humanity! You should apply to both, and perhaps the Peace Corps if you really want to travel.

    Do it! Experience of a lifetime if you can afford it!

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    I'm just here to commiserate with you chunndr. I am in a similar situation (graduating this May). The job search process has been fairly disheartening to this point, especially compared to the relative ease I was able to attain planning internships, but I'm still [naive enough to be] hopeful. I'm not looking for the ritziest job/location, just some solid experience and a way to pay the bills.

    If I'm not able to land a "full time gig" by summer or fall I'll definitely be looking into AmeriCorps. I'm also considering taking some additional courses in more specialized planning issues while working part-time or in an unrelated field--I have some regrets I didn't pursue more "environment" and "transportation" experience opportunities, as they seem to be in-demand in recent job listings.

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