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Thread: Which do you prefer to work in? Private or public sector?

  1. #1
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    Which do you prefer to work in? Private or public sector?

    Which do you prefer to work in? Private or Public Sector? Regional or Urban Planning? And why : )

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Welcome and go St. Kilda Saints!

    I think your question is a bit vague and will probably garner some vague responses. Those of us in the public world have many things we do that are great, and some that are no so much. Personally, I have only worked professionally as a public sector planner, so I can't speak to private, but I have worked with many private sector planners that seem happy.

    I think it depends on the work you like to do. Public sector is much more consistent work with less variation of workload. Private sector could have you doing transportation one day and environmental the other.

    I think that if you expounded on your question a bit more, and possibly explained why you are asking, or your personal preference, we might be able to give you a bit more information.

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    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mizukage View post
    Which do you prefer to work in? Private or Public Sector? Regional or Urban Planning? And why : )
    I like the vagueness of the question and hope that it brings about many different views. This is a question I'm constantly asking myself right now. I have worked both public and private and can't figure out which one is right for me. For the public side, I love the predictable schedule, the more intimate relationships with decision makers, and the predictable schedule (did I mention that I love the predictable schedule?). On the negative side, a lot of the day to day stuff drives me crazy and I don't care to work on much of that work.

    For the private side, I love the projects, the flexibility to be able to take a kid to the doctor or do something during business hours without the fear of a planner not being present, and the pay is far better in my experience. But I hate working for developers who call 10 minutes before you're going to leave and request that you have 5 hours of work submitted for review tomorrow while it's been sitting on their desk for 3 months.

    As for now, I'm sticking with the public side. The predictability at this point in my life is the most important thing. Even if I end up working after normal business hours, I usually know far ahead of time. This is hugely important for me (actually my wife).
    Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.

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    Thanks for your replies. They have actually been quite useful so far, and seem to run true with a lot of the other stuff I have read. Transguy gave me the sort of response I was looking for. I just want to know some simple facts about lifestyle and preferences. I'm not after anything too specific.

    At the moment I am a student, studying Urban Planning & Design, and I am starting to decide which sector I would prefer to work in. I was really just wondering what are the perks of each sector, and what kind of personality suits each one. Things like whether you are more interested in politics and the community in the Public Sector, and more interested in other things in the Private Sector. Differences between workloads, difference in pay, differences in lifestyle, in stress. Do Private Consultants work in nicer offices, with better technology available? These are the kind of things we haven't been taught at Uni, but I'd love to know!

    These differences probably are unique to individuals and where specifically they work, I thought it would just be very interesting to see what some of your perspectives are! If anyone else is willing to share, it'd be great. Thanks!

  5. #5
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    You shouldn't be too picky about public vs private at this point, just take any planning job you can get!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    5 of my 6 planning internships were public sector but all of my full time experience has been in consulting. Personally, I prefer consulting for the reasons already mentioned (variety of projects, better pay, etc.). Fortunately, I work for a large engineering firm that has been very accommodating to planners' needs with little to no drama.

    However, there are downsides to consulting. One, we have to constantly market/advertise our services (from cut sheets to professional involvement to proposals). Two, we occasionally have to put in very long hours for a hard deadline. I have been here since December and have worked a few +16 hour days without a break. Fortunately I am salaried with paid overtime which definetely helps, but that is very rare for ANY company. Three, you have to be very aware of the budget and how much money you have to complete tasks. To keep the profit margins up, it might mean not billing certain hours for tasks.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    Public sector for me

    I've worked both sides of the fence - about seven years in public and just over five in private.

    For me, it's boiled down to philosophical point: a planner is to serve the public good.

    In the private sector the bottom line is the bottom line. If you're lucky (as I have been) you get to work for an ethical company but the fact remains that the possibility will always exist where you have to have to make a choice between the public good or profit. And the fact of the matter is that profit and billability are ever present topics.

    Yes, I'm aware that possibilities for that sort of conflict (maybe not profit) exist in the public sector. I just feel better equipped to deal with it.

    No, I'm not saying that all you planners in the private sector and are happy with it are profit-driven, amoral money-grubbers - I know that that is not the case at all. Really.

    This is just how I feel about it for me.

    Perhaps I'm naive and/or simplistically idealistic but I've had five years to think it over.
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
    (What Would Jimmy Durante Do?)

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