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Thread: Sharing work product/ideas with prospective employers?

  1. #1
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    Sharing work product/ideas with prospective employers?

    I am a recent graduate of urban planning with TOD and urban design specialization. However I would like to solicit a few responses from all of you regarding about the following:

    I got into contact with a private planning firm recently, but the person said the firm does not have a lot of work in hand for them to hire me. However they are very interested in my preliminary document for a future development in my hometown which I briefly talked about (but did not present the actual report in hard copy). He would like to take a look at the it in the near future, and he think it is worthwhile he and the firm would like to collaborate with me on this.

    My questions are:

    1. Is it okay to show it to him despite there are no guarantees on my participation (only possibilities for collaboration was mentioned by him)?

    2. If it’s okay to show it, what levels of information should I reveal and what should I withhold just to protect myself against idea theft? Is a brief half-page summary good enough?

    3. I will meet with planners at my hometown later this week on employment prospects in Fall, however is it okay for me to talk about my document briefly (but not revealing the details of my meeting with the private firm) to get their interest in my credentials?

    Thanks alot!
    Last edited by Reelin; 23 Jun 2010 at 12:33 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    How do you define proposal? Are you a developer proposing a new project in your hometown, or are you merely writing a report on your observations?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply,

    Regrettably I don't have the money to become a developer.

    My document is a roughly 10-page analysis and preliminary design (with land use, street circulation, and drawings) on a large site that is currently owned by the city (with the intention of putting it up for sale after this year). [I may have to be careful with my phrasing from now on.]

    Hope this clears the air a little!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I think it's a very grey area. I worked an an independent contractor before (and during) my first job in the private sector (planning and LA firm). Very few communities are building new developments right now. Is your hometown seriously considering this project in the NEAR future (6 months, 12 months?). Serious = approving construction plans and breaking ground on development. Or is this really a conceptual project that might not be built for several years? Do you know more about the project than the consulting firm? If yes, it mgiht be one of the reasons why they are considering "working" with you.

    From what little I have read, it might also sound like they want your report to keep on file with your resume (as sort of an unofficial portfolio). Before "teaming" up with them, I would find out more on why they want your proposal. You don't have much negotiating leverage fresh out of school, and in this climate you have to take what you can get, even for unpaid positions. Have you approached this firm's competitors regarding this project? If another company sparked interest in the report, you might be able to use some leverage against the first firm. I doubt it's enough to get you hired. At least it will give each firm the impression that you are in higher demand (which may lead to an actual interview down the road when things DO pick up).

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

    Family Guy

  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    The suspicious conspiracy theorist in me does have some concerns that they want to use your material to move them further along on a project without paying you for it. I'm not saying that is their intent, but its worth considering the possibility. In that case, you could give them just the executive summary and see how they respond. If they want all the details, they can hire you or pay you some compensation as a consultant. You don't have to be a jerk about all of this, but you may want to be careful about how freely you share your hard work...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  6. #6
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    nrschmid and wahday: Your responses are greatly appreciated.

    It seems like I have more info than the firm in terms of the site, and the city is going to hold on to it at least until next year. I now have a clearer path on what to do in this case (but that doesn't mean I am going to stop adding extra stuff into my document).

    Many Thanks!

  7. #7
    It seems a little unrealistic to think they want to steal your ideas, given the fact you are fresh out of school and they are the professionals. More than likely, they are trying to show some interest in your background and establish some rapport. What could a ten page document provide that they wouldn't already know? Unless it's an almanac from the future (like the one Biff steals in Back to the Future 2), I wouldn't be so paranoid about it, and just be happy you have someone who wants to talk to you about "teaming up" (i.e. hiring you).

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    It seems a little unrealistic to think they want to steal your ideas, given the fact you are fresh out of school and they are the professionals. More than likely, they are trying to show some interest in your background and establish some rapport. What could a ten page document provide that they wouldn't already know? Unless it's an almanac from the future (like the one Biff steals in Back to the Future 2), I wouldn't be so paranoid about it, and just be happy you have someone who wants to talk to you about "teaming up" (i.e. hiring you).
    Bingo.

    IMHO.

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