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Thread: Construction site vs UP office work prior to school

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Construction site vs UP office work prior to school

    Hello;
    I am contemplating spring/summer work options prior to entering an urban plan program in the fall, and I am being pulled two ways.

    Part of me thinks I should try to get a (likely unpaid) planning office job so as to build up my planning knowledge and my c.v.

    The other part of me thinks that I should try to hunt out a construction job that might actually pay (as money is short), give me some rewarding physical work and a mental break, prior to spending so much time in school, and potentially even provide me with important front line knowledge that might ultimately be valuable in planning.

    Based upon your experience, what would you all suggest? Are the relative strenghts I have identified reasonable in your experience, or am I off base? Thanks!

    I should add, that I look forward to working in the housing/development/real estate sector,
    thnks,
    K.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 10 May 2010 at 11:50 AM. Reason: seq. posts merged

  2. #2
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    What level of school are you getting ready to start?

    If it's undergraduate, I would suggest going for the construction job so that you can have some money in your pocket when you begin in the fall. I know it's tough to pass up experience in your the field you want to work in, but since it's still relatively early in the education process, you will have plenty of time (4+ years?) to gain some relevant experience. Besides, working construction could give you some basic exposure to the engineering, architecture, and landscape architecture side of things. Even if you aren't the one drawing up the plans, you may have to take a look at a site plan to see where you are supposed to be planting those arborvitaes!

    If you have already finished undergraduate school and are going into a graduate UP program, and if and only if you can survive without the extra cash now, I would bypass the construction job and look for the planning office work. If you only have about two years to try and get your foot in the door, and without knowing much about the planning job market in the Toronto area, this might be your best chance. Plus, the networking connections you could make, combined with the networking connections you will make among a more focused student body in a graduate program and the professors will be much stronger after 2 years of grad school than it would be after 4 years of undergrad. Professors and employers memories fade much more after 4 years!

    But in the end, don't forget to think about your personal time value of money. Is the $X earned in construction NOW worth more than $0 now plus $X$Y later?
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  3. #3
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    If you ever want to work in planning in the private sector for a real estate developer, I would suggest the construction job. I've been told by numerous planners who do such work that that is one of their biggest learning curves (construction process/law, in addition to private financing) when they started work for "the dark side".

    If, on the other hand, it's your goal to be a public planner or work primarily with government entities, then I echo WSU MUP Student's advice.

  4. #4
    Member
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    Why not do both, I did. During one summer while I was an undergrad, I worked with a remodeling company for about 30 hours a week. Two days a week I would leave at about noon and spend a few hours as an unpaid intern at a municipal planning department. I also attended a few evening meetings with them.

    Of course, this depends on getting the schedule to work (and figuring out a way to wash up a bit between gigs) but its worth considering. By the way, the unpaid job was one I found by emailing around to all of the planning depts in a thirty mile radius (there happened to be a bunch). I was lucky enough to find someone who was willing to find me a desk and some projects to work on, he is still a very helpful reference.

  5. #5
    Both. It'll keep you busy, and that's the majority of success.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Sneakers had some great advice. Either way, working in construction is closely related to planning, and you should be able to sell it that way to a potential employer.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7
    Member
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    Hi, I'm a Spanish student. First sorry about my English. I'm looking for some internship in the States or Canada for the next year (or that summer...) Could you recommend me some studios to apply? thanks in advance.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Caramuel View post
    Hi, I'm a Spanish student. First sorry about my English. I'm looking for some internship in the States or Canada for the next year (or that summer...) Could you recommend me some studios to apply? thanks in advance.
    You English is much better than my Spanish, so no need to apologize. I would recommend looking at the APA website's list of consultants (www.planning.org). Contact them as a starting point, as I think you would have a better chance of landing a job with one of them instead of in government. In this economy, though, you have an uphill battle. Good luck.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  9. #9
    Member
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    Ok, thanks a lot, I'm going to examine in detail the site, but there are something that makes me distrust...jaja

    APA - Extorting money from professional planners for 25 years!!!! I hope it was irony

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