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Thread: I guess I'm a planner starting today...just turned in my final assignment.

  1. #1
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    I guess I'm a planner starting today...just turned in my final assignment.

    I'm not sure if this belongs in this thread. It's both a student and a career issue.

    Today I handed in my final assignment in my graduate program today. Although I can't say that I passed all of them, I'm confident that i'll graduate. So as of now, I'm supposedly an Urban Planner because the bare minimum requirements allow me to call myself one I suppose.

    I'm not feeling a sense of accomplishment really. I've been trying to get a hold of some form of entry level job. Yeah, I know the economy blows but I figured if i tried hard enough and was persistent I would have a good chance. But still to no avail..hopefully that will get better.

    But thinking right now, I'm actually confused as to what planning really is....and how to even plan for it. It seems like I know a little about of a lot of subjects. And after going through interviews and talking to real practitioners, I feel completely inadequate in any subject they're talking about. Sure i'll throw in some keywords like Smart Growth, and SB375 or how tedious CEQA work can get just so I don't sound completely out of the loop. Yet, I'm sure they can see through it. So really, I wonder if I accomplished anything but learn a few jingo words I could have learned from google.

    I'm just extremely confused...I should be happy that I finished grad school but its not really coming.

    Has anyone felt this?

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    For me the joy in our work is that we know a lot about a lot of topics. Take the AICP exam for instance. You will not find a professional test that has more random knowledge on it, than our professional test. This is a testament to the type of people we are.

    I think that in any job, you don't feel comfortable until you get a chance to actually do what you learned. Theory is really just theory until you can apply it. As long as you find a place of employment that will mentor you - which is really what a lot of planner I positions are - you will find that in a couple months you are capable and taking on more and more work.

    I was lucky enough to get four internships throughout undergrad and grad school and my supervisors for each of them really helped me understand what I needed to work on to become a better planner. Understanding the lingo is one thing, but really working on some of the skills that you will need for you entire career is most important. Check out some other threads here about skills that need to be honed and work on those if you are insecure in your abilities.

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

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by rok1982 View post
    But thinking right now, I'm actually confused as to what planning really is....and how to even plan for it. It seems like I know a little about of a lot of subjects. And after going through interviews and talking to real practitioners, I feel completely inadequate in any subject they're talking about. Sure i'll throw in some keywords like Smart Growth, and SB375 or how tedious CEQA work can get just so I don't sound completely out of the loop. Yet, I'm sure they can see through it. So really, I wonder if I accomplished anything but learn a few jingo words I could have learned from google.

    I'm just extremely confused...I should be happy that I finished grad school but its not really coming.

    Has anyone felt this?
    Yes I have felt and do feel like this...after 35 years in the field.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by rok1982 View post
    I

    But thinking right now, I'm actually confused as to what planning really is....and how to even plan for it. It seems like I know a little about of a lot of subjects. ?
    This, more then anything else, may be the essential dilemma of the urban planner. You will never know as much as the specialists in each field, or even enough to feel fully comfortable speaking in each field's particular dialect. To do so would require you to obtain more degrees and certifications than one could plausibly acquire in one's career. A planner adds value to the process through their availability to synthesize a little bit of each of discipline and then be able to translate this in a way that the public and elected officials can understand.

  5. #5
    There is a long learning curve for planning-related matters. Anyone can achieve a basic understanding of these things, but only through first-hand real world experience do things start to really fall in place. And even then, every situation, every environment, every political landscape, is different and will have other solutions and lead to other outcomes. I think you're probably just realizing this and more aware of your lack of experience than other graduates. So don't sweat it.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I wouldn't worry about it too much. It just takes time. It took me about 3 years to learn how to write planning documents well. My writing style is VERY different than my writing style on Cyburbia. I, too, have thrown around ten cent words hoping they would catch. I interviewed for an entry-level GIS technician position (with some planning responsibilities) for a forest preserve district in May 2004. I brought up green architecture in the interview. Well, green architecture has more in common with a LEED building but has nothing to do with regional open space planning. Obviously I didn't earn a job offer.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    As others as said, don't sweat it. With entry level positions that are filled with "truly" entry level canidates, there is always some level of OJT to be expect. As my old boss once said, it truly takes at least a year when you take a job to be "fully fuctional" member of the team.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  8. #8
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    Awesome..I'm glad what i'm going through is normal, although feeling inadequate is never all that great. The good news is that my internship has been kind enough to extend my stay for a year. I guess this is the year where I sharpen up all my skills whether it be writing, researching or GIS.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by rok1982 View post
    The good news is that my internship has been kind enough to extend my stay for a year. .
    Count your blessings! That is a huge deal, since in a year, things might actually be picking up again a little bit, 3 years after the crash.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
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    .

    One advantage you might have, depending on your education, is that most long-term professional planners are used to re-examining plans and policy when the Feds, State agencies, or someone else hits their politicians over the head, as opposed to the mandatory periodic iterative thinking they are supposed to be teaching today around "sustainability", etc.

    Most professional planners are still terrified of any plan that requires more than 5 years of implementation, because they're terrified of the thought of having to critique their own past thinking every six months. A new person who expresses confidence in iterative long-range planning they won't like, but they know someone has to do it, in order to have cities 50 years from now that function with no personally-owned vehicles, no waste generation, etc.

    .

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