Hi everyone... this is a part career/part grad school kind of question
I'm new to these boards and would like some advice on a pursuing a future career in planning. I have been working in the financial services industry since I graduated in 2007. I wasn't completely sure what I wanted to do in life then and just tried to fill the money void with the first job that came around. I realized just late last year that planning is what really interests me... I caught myself inadvertently trolling websites dedicated to new developments in my hometown and current town and I really couldn't suppress my excitement about it.
With the state of the job market however, I'm finding it almost impossible to find any entry level position (I can barely find any listings related to urban planning on any of the typical job sites, ie, Indeed.com/Monster.com, etc.) so I've been focusing on trying to find an internship or some kind of unpaid position to get the experience, but those are also difficult to come by. I am noticing that a lot of government agencies simply don't allow people who are not currently students to fill internship positions. I would also probably at least need a relevant degree in the field if I were to be competitive in the hunt for an entry level position.
So I am wondering if my time would be better served applying for graduate school in the field instead. I have browsed a few programs (USC, UPenn, Cornell) and noticed that many of their students have not had a background in planning and have come to the program with completely different jobs or majors (I majored in International Relations and Japanese).
So I have a few questions:
-How much experience would you suggest is necessary before applying to graduate school? Is it realistic to apply without?
-Is it plausible to try to get experience in this recession or should I instead dedicate that time to applying to graduate school?
-Do graduates schools assist with finding a career afterwards?
-What are the employment prospects like? Is it realistic to expect that you can find a job in the town you live (I live in Boston) or would you need to move elsewhere to find employment. I am particularly interested in Transportation Planning. I know this depends on where you live, but are there areas in the country that have a greater concentration of urban planners than others?
-How has the recession affected the field? I am noticing pretty badly based on some of the threads in this forum. Do you foresee improvements in this anytime soon?
-What is the potential to work outside of the United States? My boyfriend is from Asia and we may consider settling down there in the future.
I am becoming pretty passionate about this and think it would be a great future career, but I would also like your honest opinions about whether it is realistic to be pursuing this field at the moment. I don't want to be the person who has spent 70k+, completed graduate school, and be out on the street broke and in debt.
Any other advice is certainly appreciated. Thank you!