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Thread: Should I even bother with planning?

  1. #1
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    Should I even bother with planning?

    So I have a bachelor in Geography, emphasis of Community and Environmental Planning. I've been working as a flight attendant for the last 5 years since I graduated and just decided about 2 years ago to actually go into the Planning field. I quickly realized it was hard to find a job that didn't require experience and since I never did an internship I don't have any. So I decided I might as well just go for my masters since I would need it anyway and I could get my experience while I was at it. I moved to Utah because I liked the program at UofU and it was much cheaper than Chicago where I was. Now after almost a year of earning my residency I'm ready to apply and I'm having serious doubts. Mainly I'm worried about getting into all this debt and then getting out and not making a lot more to start than I'm making now, especially since I'm not totally sure I will even like the field. One of the other concerns I have is that it is really looking like I will have to move to wherever I can get a job, not where I want to live. This is also a problem because my boyfriend will be graduating around the same time and will also have to move where he can get a job. I'm 27 years old so I feel like I don't have a lot of time to waste on this. Now after finding this forum I'm seeing all these recent graduates post that there are no jobs out there right now period. I'm also thinking of just practically starting over and going back for nursing. I know I've put a lot of thought and time into going for planning but I'm ready to abandon it altogether and totally switch gears. Does anyone have a suggestion or opinion on my situation? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    First of all, don't worry about being 27. That is not all that old for getting a masters and starting out in a new field. The average age of the group I started grad school with was more than that. I turned 27 in my first semester, after spending a few years working and in the Army.

    It would help to know if you really enjoy the planning field. There was no doubt in my mind, which made it easy to commit to 2-3 years as a student. After that decision, you do need to face the reality that right now, planning is not a field in demand, jobs are hard to come by, and you will probably have to move. How much different is that with any of dozens of other professions, though? You might get lucky or you may struggle. It is a gamble.

    If you want to hedge your bets you can look at doing some coursework or internships that make you more employable in a range of fields. Maybe a concentration in environmental planning? A dual degree in planning and business?
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  3. #3
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    Unless you are a.) a professional planner with at least a decade of experience or b.) currently unemployed and looking for a way to defer your student loans as well as absolutely sick and tired of looking for a job, going back to school to pursue a graduate degree in planning would not be a worthwhile investment of your time or money.

    The truth about the planning profession, and university planning departments will probably not advertise this, is that you have no business getting a master's degree in planning right after getting your undergraduate degree, without getting significant work experience in between.

    Your first step after earning a BA should be to try and get your foot in the door at some planning firm or agency somewhere. Unfortunately, even without the recession, this is a difficult enough task with most public sector positions going to patronage appointees and private sector consulting outfits doing essentially the same thing, giving the jobs to people or relatives of people they already have some connection with. In the real world, the planning profession doesn't really rely on skilled professionals as much as one would think, which is why most "successful" individuals with planning degrees and the related skill sets work in research positions and academia.

    A master's in planning is really only valuable to established professionals with at least ten years of experience and who expect to move in to senior level or executive positions.

    However, your university of choice will be happy to give you anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 in loans to earn this degree.

    This is a big reason why there is currently a glut of overeducated, underemployed planning school graduates out there, most of whom would be quite pleased to have a stable job as a flight attendent right about now.

    If I were you I would strongly reconsider this career choice, or at least figure out what it is about this profession that is appealing to you. Perhaps there are ways you could channel these interests into a more fulfilling and less costly hobby of some kind.
    Last edited by crummmountain; 02 Jul 2010 at 2:19 PM.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by coryf View post
    So I have a bachelor in Geography, emphasis of Community and Environmental Planning. I've been working as a flight attendant for the last 5 years since I graduated and just decided about 2 years ago to actually go into the Planning field. I quickly realized it was hard to find a job that didn't require experience and since I never did an internship I don't have any. So I decided I might as well just go for my masters since I would need it anyway and I could get my experience while I was at it. I moved to Utah because I liked the program at UofU and it was much cheaper than Chicago where I was. Now after almost a year of earning my residency I'm ready to apply and I'm having serious doubts. Mainly I'm worried about getting into all this debt and then getting out and not making a lot more to start than I'm making now, especially since I'm not totally sure I will even like the field. One of the other concerns I have is that it is really looking like I will have to move to wherever I can get a job, not where I want to live. This is also a problem because my boyfriend will be graduating around the same time and will also have to move where he can get a job. I'm 27 years old so I feel like I don't have a lot of time to waste on this. Now after finding this forum I'm seeing all these recent graduates post that there are no jobs out there right now period. I'm also thinking of just practically starting over and going back for nursing. I know I've put a lot of thought and time into going for planning but I'm ready to abandon it altogether and totally switch gears. Does anyone have a suggestion or opinion on my situation? Thanks!
    I don't see anything in here about altruism, politics, making a difference, leaving patterns behind, reducing pollutants, architecture, land use, real estate, etc. Not going into Planning ensures you having no idea what the profession is about, as Uni doesn't really tell you.

    You might want to think hard about going into a profession where you described exactly zero reasons why it attracts you, esp as that profession won't have a need for new planners for maybe half a decade, as the ones unemployed now will be hired in five years when hiring starts again (call me Mr Optimism).

  5. #5
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by crummmountain View post
    Unless you are a.) a professional planner with at least a decade of experience or b.) currently unemployed and looking for a way to defer your student loans as well as absolutely sick and tired of looking for a job, going back to school to pursue a graduate degree in planning would not be a worthwhile investment of your time or money.

    The truth about the planning profession, and university planning departments will probably not advertise this, is that you have no business getting a master's degree in planning right after getting your undergraduate degree, without getting significant work experience in between.
    I know I am repeating myself, but I think it depends greatly on the university. If you got an undergrad in geography with an emphasis on planning, then a master's in CRP or the like makes sense. You learned very little to nothing about planning with a geog degree - getting a master's helps round you out. I would hire a planner with a master's and zero experience before I hired a planner with a b.geog and two years of experience (again depending on the university).

    Maybe I am the lone optimist in our little world, but I think you need to just look at what you want to do in life. If you want to do planning or planning related acitives, get the degree. Waiting for experience is pointless. Get all the education you need out of the way, so when you do finally find that job, you aren't going to have to go back and get more education to move up the ladder.

    Honestly though, you really need to make sure this is what you want to do first. As with any profession, it will waste your time and money to get a degree in something that you don't love. Good luck.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian LTKS's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by crummmountain View post

    The truth about the planning profession, and university planning departments will probably not advertise this, is that you have no business getting a master's degree in planning right after getting your undergraduate degree, without getting significant work experience in between.

    A master's in planning is really only valuable to established professionals with at least ten years of experience and who expect to move in to senior level or executive positions.
    Maybe it is just me and what my experiences were, or that my undergrad degree wasn't in planning, but I 100% disagree with these statements. Here's why:

    1) I received a undergrad degree in Landscape Design, which introduced me to planning - it was something I became very interested in pursuing professionally. Immediately after undergrad, I went to grad school to get my MURP degree. I knew zip about planning, and felt I needed a solid educational background in order to make it a career. It was something I wanted to do, and there was no way to get experience professionally without the degree.

    2) Now in the consulting world, my company's principals feel that having staff with Master's in Planning is a very valuable asset. In their minds (not mine), it shows dedication and a good, solid educational foundation in the specific field and adds another layer of knowledge to previous professional experience. Not saying I agree with this, or that it makes for a better planner, or a more qualified team for a proposed project - just relaying what I was actually told from one of them during the hiring process of another planner here.

    3) Not all planning programs are very theoretical and only good for people who want to maintain an academic career. The first MURP program I attended was that way and I didn't like it. So, I transferred to another program elsewhere that was more "real world", where I got to work with city planning departments, planning non-profits, and private consulting firms on actual projects. This was great experience to be able to add to a resume when there was no other such experience I could be getting.

    4) While in planning school, I was able to get a "real" full-time paying job as a planner. I do not think I would have gotten that job without saying I was in a Master's program. So, it did help me get my first planning job.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally posted by LTKS View post
    While in planning school, I was able to get a "real" full-time paying job as a planner. I do not think I would have gotten that job without saying I was in a Master's program. So, it did help me get my first planning job.
    ...in what decade was this (if you don't mind me asking)? I would have to say you're either amazingly talented or just very lucky as that is not the experience of the majority of graduate planning students that I know.

    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    I would hire a planner with a master's and zero experience before I hired a planner with a b.geog and two years of experience (again depending on the university).
    That doesn't really sound right. I've talked with a lot of directors of MPOs, municipal agencies, and consulting outfits and they all pretty much would say the exact opposite of that. What's more, whenever I interview for a position I ask the person I'm interviewing with beforehand to give me an idea of what they're looking for - a little blunt but it saves a lot of time and energy by avoiding pointless interviews.

    The OP should bear in mind that employers in the planning profession, as in all professions really, benefit by creating a buyer's labor market - which is most certainly what you get when the labor pool is swelled with desperate, indebted over-educated job seekers.

    Just sayin'.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian LTKS's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by crummmountain View post
    ...in what decade was this (if you don't mind me asking)? I would have to say you're either amazingly talented or just very lucky as that is not the experience of the majority of graduate planning students that I know.
    It was about 7 years ago - I graduated college in 2002 and completed my MURP in 2005. And I think it was a mixture of both points - luck and talent. Luck in that I entered planning, and particularly a specific sector of it, at a good time and in a good area that was hiring all the time. Talent in that I am a smart person. I was pretty sure I knew how to get where I wanted to go. I chose wireless facility planning for my 1st job because a) it was so new and small (like a start up), I figured I could get my foot in the door that way; b) I knew I'd be working with a lot of jurisdictions and would gain experience with all different types of codes/ordinances; c) I would have to interact a lot with community members and resolve conflicts with them; and d) that I'd have to regularly make presentations to boards/commissions. All of those skills are essential to every aspect of the planning field. My next job, while still in grad school, was working for a public jurisdiction as an Assistant Planner - I got that job with just 1 year of planning work in wireless and by getting a Master's.

    I'm not attacking you here, but I must say that I'm a little confused. In another thread, you say you've been weighing the option of going back to school b/c you're having trouble job hunting. Why is their desire to get another degree less valid that yours? It seems that having only graduated in 2008, you don't have enough clout to make a lot of those previous statements. My personal perception is that they are fueled by your own frustration with the field. If you're having trouble getting a job in planning, then what level of experience do you have that allows you to say "In the real world, the planning profession doesn't really rely on skilled professionals as much as one would think, which is why most "successful" individuals with planning degrees and the related skill sets work in research positions and academia." or that "A master's in planning is really only valuable to established professionals with at least ten years of experience and who expect to move in to senior level or executive positions"?

    I guess all I'm saying is that it is a frustrating time for many planners, yes, but it doesn't mean that others shouldn't be swayed from doing something that really interests them. If someone knows what they want, and they think they know how to get there, no one should tell them that their path is the wrong way. It might not be the way you'd do it, but it isn't pointless or wrong.
    Last edited by LTKS; 03 Jul 2010 at 2:03 PM.

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    I would agree that it is important to check out the school - is it very theoretical, or will you learn context, law, applied skills? Does it offer the specializations you might be interested in (whether urban design, historic preservation, land use/environmental planning)? Do they have a robust program of internships, hands-on projects with real world clients, etc.? It sounds like you are ready to put a lot into grad school, and I think you get back what you put in. It seems like the Utah area also has some interesting planning activity going on (Envision Utah; light rail expansion; Salt Lake City bike planning, etc.) I think the Master's degree has value, although it increasingly seems like everyone going into planning gets one, so what you do during your MA study may help you to create a portfolio, make contacts, get your foot in the door.

    (You could certainly get your foot in the door through unpaid or paid internships as well. That may also help you figure out if planning is what you want to do.)

    I would say also the MA degree will hopefully help you establish a direction in the field (private sector or public? Long range or development review? Environmental, real estate, techie (GIS, design), etc.) ALso help you learn which areas you don't want to do, which is equally important.

    One common experience I see is some people coming out of the Master's degree these days are coming into (paid) internships, not full-time jobs ... not necessarily a bad thing if you are getting good experience.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by coryf View post
    Mainly I'm worried about getting into all this debt and then getting out and not making a lot more to start than I'm making now,
    That was exactly my situation. Had I just stayed in the job I had before I went to grad school for planning, I would be making more money now (perhaps much more). I also woudn't have been paying back student loans for the last 10 years.

    Quote Originally posted by coryf View post
    especially since I'm not totally sure I will even like the field.
    A lot of people think of planning as a calling, not a job. An annoying, politically-charged, high-stress calling that pays poorly yet can easily require 50-60+ work hours per week. You have to believe you will like it, or else you'll be wasting your time.

    Quote Originally posted by coryf View post
    One of the other concerns I have is that it is really looking like I will have to move to wherever I can get a job, not where I want to live. This is also a problem because my boyfriend will be graduating around the same time and will also have to move where he can get a job.
    I've lived in three states in the last four years. My longest move for a job was 1,100 miles. My wife wasn't happy about being dragged along with me, but that's where the jobs were. In this economy, you could end up anywhere, and you have to be willing to relocate.

    Quote Originally posted by coryf View post
    I'm also thinking of just practically starting over and going back for nursing.
    I know someone who chucked planning school for nursing school. I thought it was a smart move. The good thing about a profession like nursing is that it there are jobs everywhere, and demand is good. If I were to go do it over again, I would go to business school and either (a) get a degree in business statistics/market research, or (b) become a CPA. I absolutely would not become a planner. There are few professions that demand the level of education and knowledge that planning does yet pay so poorly and have so little job security and so few job prospects.

    In short, run away! Run away while you can!

  11. #11
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by crummmountain View post
    ...in what decade was this (if you don't mind me asking)? I would have to say you're either amazingly talented or just very lucky as that is not the experience of the majority of graduate planning students that I know.
    I would say it was for most prior to 2006 maybe even 2007. Many who graduated prior to 2007 got a job within 2 months of graduating (at least those who I know). It has only been more recently (late 2007-2008) that the job market has tanked, and it has become ever harder to find the first job.

    Quote Originally posted by crummmountain View post
    That doesn't really sound right. I've talked with a lot of directors of MPOs, municipal agencies, and consulting outfits and they all pretty much would say the exact opposite of that. What's more, whenever I interview for a position I ask the person I'm interviewing with beforehand to give me an idea of what they're looking for - a little blunt but it saves a lot of time and energy by avoiding pointless interviews.
    Fair enough. I disagree. Although this job market is tough for new planners, there are still people getting jobs. Having an advanced degree makes you more marketable in my mind. Whether it is right or wrong, saying you have a department that has planners with masters and AICP works in some corners of the country.



    Quote Originally posted by JimPlans View post
    In short, run away! Run away while you can!
    Sigh....
    Last edited by Hink; 06 Jul 2010 at 9:30 AM. Reason: edited in a sigh.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    I'll chime in and agree with what JimPlans said...planning is a specialized professional degree. You cannot go into it expecting that any place you want to live in will have a job available for you doing exactly planning. I relocted over 500 miles after graduate school and I most others from my class did also. The ones that stayed in Florida (at least the ones that went to the private sector) have since been laid off. I graduated in spring 08-pretty much the last class to graduate to eek it out in a somewhat decent job market.

    Also, you should always do what you love, planning can be a thankless job in the public sector and very high stakes in the private sector...procede with caution. Best of Luck!
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    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JimPlans View post
    In short, run away! Run away while you can!
    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    Sigh....
    That last statement should have had one of these next to it: But, the sentiment holds: No-one should be thinking of getting an advanced degree in planning right now unless they have a passion for it and a willingness to sacrifice for it. It doesn't seem like coryf has this passion.

  14. #14
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JimPlans View post
    That last statement should have had one of these next to it: But, the sentiment holds: No-one should be thinking of getting an advanced degree in planning right now unless they have a passion for it and a willingness to sacrifice for it. It doesn't seem like coryf has this passion.
    I agree with you, I just hate that we are so willing to kill the young. I have consistently said that if you do not want to do planning for a living you shouldn't get a degree or even start an undergrad. You can't do our profession for the money or the fame. You have to do it because you enjoy doing what you are doing.

    But I also think that we should still foster the young planners, and allow them to have an understanding of why what we do is great. I don't think we should be telling them lies, but I also don't like how negative we are sometimes about the future of planning. If we subtract the baby boomers from our ranks, which we will be doing in the next 10 years, we will be seeing a large increase of open jobs and the mass shift of retirements moves everyone up. I guess I am just the eternal optimist... lol
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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Yeah, you really have to have a passion. That's the reason why I'm still here. I love this field so much.

    You need to figure out if you have it. Have you read any urban planning books lately? Do they interest you so much that you can't put them down? When you're driving around your town, are you constantly thinking of ways in which things could be done better?

    Your best bet is to do an internship, do some volunteering, or even just do a job shadow of someone in your community, and see if this is something you really want to do. And look at schools with planning programs and see if you really like them as well. But before you sign away to grad school, it'd be best to get some hands-on experience in the field first (volunteer internship, job shadow, etc.), so you know that this is what you want to do with your life.

    Hold on to your current job if you can. Anybody should be lucky to have a job in this day and age. But try to do these other things now so you can see if planning is something you really really want to do.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Reading these posts you'll see a common thread you can sum up like this: You've got to really want to do it. The U of U program is great (I know when I've interviewed candidates for jobs from that program I've been very impressed, even without experience). The market is tough but there are a lot of things going on in Utah you might be able to get into. Definitely look for municipal jobs, coming off the program you'd be able to compete at least, and definitely look also in other areas. The Downtown Business Alliance will hire planners and interns, the SL Community Councils have a staff planner (and that's a thankless job, as I understand, but you gotta start somewhere).

    I'm at least local and happy to try to help. Post a couple of times so you can PM me and I'll give you some contact information for some of the folks I know locally that can maybe point you in the right directions as things come up.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally posted by LTKS View post
    It seems that having only graduated in 2008, you don't have enough clout to make a lot of those previous statements. My personal perception is that they are fueled by your own frustration with the field. If you're having trouble getting a job in planning, then what level of experience do you have that allows you to say "In the real world, the planning profession doesn't really rely on skilled professionals as much as one would think, which is why most "successful" individuals with planning degrees and the related skill sets work in research positions and academia." or that "A master's in planning is really only valuable to established professionals with at least ten years of experience and who expect to move in to senior level or executive positions"?


    I think that was a little more mean and personal than you needed to get and I'd appreciate an apology.

    You just assumed that because I graduated in 2008 that I am inexperienced and have never worked as a professional planner.

    You also completely ignored the fact that maybe I have other life experiences that allow me to make those observations.

    I don't mean to be oversensitive but I'm not used to be insulted and called a liar on professional forums.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by crummmountain View post


    I think that was a little more mean and personal than you needed to get and I'd appreciate an apology.

    You just assumed that because I graduated in 2008 that I am inexperienced and have never worked as a professional planner.

    You also completely ignored the fact that maybe I have other life experiences that allow me to make those observations.

    I don't mean to be oversensitive but I'm not used to be insulted and called a liar on professional forums.


    Being new to the forum (welcome btw) and not having established yourself, you did sort of come off a "a$$". Just by reading your first post. I mean you said most "sucessful" planners work in academia and research, which is a bunch of BS in my book. I think some of us here on the forum think of themselves as sucessful planners in some way shape or form.

    Look around at the job postings. Most "recommend" or "perfer" (i.e. you must have in this job market) a masters. So obviously, in a crappy economy, someone with a BA/BS would tend to graviatate to said Master's degree versus the brutal job market. Do i personally think a Master's is overkill if you have a BS/BA in planning? Yes, i do, but hey, if a person has the desire to be planner, more power to them, even if it means more debt in the end.

    Having connections is great in this market. Your even better with "skills" that match what an employer is looking for. It might be the good ol' boys system in the northeast, but typically 8/10 times its the "skill and fit" that win.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian LTKS's avatar
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    What CPSURaf said. It came across in a negative way - you kinda insulted a lot of planners. And, as a practicing planner who likes to think of themselves as successful, and as someone who would never be in an academic position professionally, it was somewhat offensive to hear those statements. So I'm sorry I came across that way, but you have to also recognize your tone as well.

    Like I said, it is a tough market - no one is saying it isn't. You just need to find a good fit, and it seems like it might not be something you're willing to put the time into. If it isn't, that is okay.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    Reading these posts you'll see a common thread you can sum up like this: You've got to really want to do it. The U of U program is great (I know when I've interviewed candidates for jobs from that program I've been very impressed, even without experience). The market is tough but there are a lot of things going on in Utah you might be able to get into. Definitely look for municipal jobs, coming off the program you'd be able to compete at least, and definitely look also in other areas. The Downtown Business Alliance will hire planners and interns, the SL Community Councils have a staff planner (and that's a thankless job, as I understand, but you gotta start somewhere).

    I'm at least local and happy to try to help. Post a couple of times so you can PM me and I'll give you some contact information for some of the folks I know locally that can maybe point you in the right directions as things come up.
    Thank you so much for this information, it was very helpful. I have been wondering how to go about asking for an internship since all the internships I see posted are for those who are in school and since there is also a masters planning program in salt lake I figured no one would want to fuss with me since they must already have so many banging on their door. The good thing is my schedule as a flight attendant is very flexible so if someone were able to give me a part-time internship/volunteer position I think I could fit it into my schedule and still work full time. So any place you can suggest that might let me hang around and see what the inside of planning is all about would be so appreciated! Thanks!

    Thanks for your responses! Now, as to why I want to go into the planning profession, here is my background. I went to school at the University of Montana (not a planning school by any means) and struggled with what to major in. Briefly I thought I wanted to do elementary ed and ended up in a human geography class and found the study of demographic research and the distribution of people and how far they travel for hospitals, malls, etc. kind of interesting. Having no other ideas and not wanting to be in school forever just getting gen. eds I transferred to the geography department, discovered that there wasn't a "human geography" emphasis and chose to concentrate in community and environmental planning. To give you an idea how small it was, I was the only one to graduate in that emphasis in 2005. So, as you can guess, I never learned all that much about the field. Not to mention that most of my classes were filled with graduate students and most everything taught was over my head. So after graduation I got a job as a flight attendant and moved to Denver. I was immediately struck (and no offense to any planners in Aurora) by how poorly I felt the community was planned for people and pedestrians in Aurora where I first moved. I practically had to take my car to get to the walmart across the street because it was so dangerous to walk across the street! I quickly realized how much I had taken for granted living in very pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use areas that didn't depend solely on cars. It occurred to me that what I had rushed to get a degree in just to finish school I actually really did have a passion for. I wanted to be a part of creating livable communities with public transportation, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, etc. In short, I wanted to have part in helping create the kind of communities where I wanted to live. Having not had much of a real education in the field despite holding the degree, I've read books on community planning and joined the APA. I also interviewed an old neighbor who is a planner in MT about a year ago. To this point I wasn't really sure where to look for jobs or how to proceed into a career. That's when I decided to look into getting my masters. I want to work in the airlines for as long as I can get away with it (for the flight benefits of course so I looked into all the schools where we have bases I could transfer to. My top choices were Portland State, University of Denver, and University of Utah. I really like Portland but was afraid of being able to get a work schedule around school there and worried about the price. University of Utah gave me the ability to have a flexible work schedule and was the cheapest school I saw and also has an internship opportunity as part of the curriculum. Not to mention that after a little more research I found out Salt Lake is doing a lot right now to revitalize their downtown and extend their light-rail. In short, I like the efforts their making to build a livable community.
    Now, I am having second thoughts about this career also because I am afraid maybe I am being naive about what being a planner really is. I want to be a part in building and changing communities but is it true that in the end I'm not really going to have a say? Is it really just politics politics politics? That is what I'm afraid of. I'm also afraid of having a beautiful vision and working really hard on it only to have it voted down... possibly again and again. Also, I see such an ugly side of people already with my job that I'm starting to not like them. I'm afraid that with planning and dealing with the public I will see an even more ugly and angry side of people and leave just flat out not liking people at all. So these are my fears. Any insights? Thanks!
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 07 Jul 2010 at 3:06 PM. Reason: double reply

  21. #21
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Dec 2008
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    Northern Utah
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    One thing Cyburbia will not do to you is lie. It therefore falls to me to tell you the ugly truth; yes there is politics, politics and more politics. At least on the governmental side of things. That's not to say that you couldn't work for a private firm and be at least more removed. The politics aside, though, I don't believe that you have to let it dampen your passion for what you do when the community leaders don't always see things your way. I still view it as my job to be that "voice" and I get a lot of joy from being it.

    Internship currently in Spanish Fork available (a little out of the way, maybe, but still).
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  22. #22
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Greensburg, Kansas
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    I have never had the budget for interns. A few jobs ago a fellow came in and asked if he could volunteer for a couple of months. I took him up, and it worked great for both of us. And I found a few hundred to help him on his way.

  23. #23
    Member
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    salt lake city, ut
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    I have never had the budget for interns. A few jobs ago a fellow came in and asked if he could volunteer for a couple of months. I took him up, and it worked great for both of us. And I found a few hundred to help him on his way.
    thanks for the advice! maybe I will just try that. Is there a specific title for the person who I would talk to that usually would be in charge of that?

    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    One thing Cyburbia will not do to you is lie. It therefore falls to me to tell you the ugly truth; yes there is politics, politics and more politics. At least on the governmental side of things. That's not to say that you couldn't work for a private firm and be at least more removed. The politics aside, though, I don't believe that you have to let it dampen your passion for what you do when the community leaders don't always see things your way. I still view it as my job to be that "voice" and I get a lot of joy from being it.

    Internship currently in Spanish Fork available (a little out of the way, maybe, but still).
    I saw that and noticed how far away it is. I might try to contact them and find out what the hours are. Thanks
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 08 Jul 2010 at 9:06 AM. Reason: double reply

  24. #24
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    The Fox Valley
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    Quote Originally posted by coryf View post
    thanks for the advice! maybe I will just try that. Is there a specific title for the person who I would talk to that usually would be in charge of that?
    Just call up the community development director/planning director at the cities or counties you'd like to volunteer for. I've found it best to pick a place that is growing or generally has a lot going on (downtown redevelopment, office park development, retail, housing, park planning, etc.), where you can get a lot of experience in different areas and where the town could use all the help it can get.

    Tell them you're interested in a career in planning and that you'd like to maybe come in and talk to them to learn more about the profession and possibly see if they have any projects they need help with where you could come in and volunteer for a few hours a week.

    In such a rough economy where planning offices are short-staffed, budgets are tight, and plenty of planning work still exists, hopefully you will find someone that could use your help or will at least offer an hour of their time so you can ask questions and learn more about the profession.

    And you never know, once the economy picks up, they might offer you a paid internship. If anything, you've made a connection and learned something about the profession, and that's what counts.

    Good luck!
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Dixie
    Posts
    5,846
    Quote Originally posted by coryf View post
    Now, I am having second thoughts about this career also because I am afraid maybe I am being naive about what being a planner really is. I want to be a part in building and changing communities but is it true that in the end I'm not really going to have a say? Is it really just politics politics politics? That is what I'm afraid of. I'm also afraid of having a beautiful vision and working really hard on it only to have it voted down... possibly again and again. Also, I see such an ugly side of people already with my job that I'm starting to not like them. I'm afraid that with planning and dealing with the public I will see an even more ugly and angry side of people and leave just flat out not liking people at all. So these are my fears. Any insights? Thanks!
    Like Ursus said, Cyburbs will not lie to you. I've been in 22 years now. Politics is the nature of the beast when working in government. Most of us long timers have made our peace with that. FWIW, I think politics is just part of interacting with people. From what I hear, politics are just as bad in corporations, just a different type.

    Yes, you will the ugly side of people. I've been b@$%*&# out more times than I can count. I've also had dogs sicced on me, threatened with a tire iron, and had several death threats. It took me 19 years to land in excellent place to work where I don't have to deal with any of that. Again, you make your peace with that side of the job and develop a thick skin. You also learn to turn it off or you wind up holed up in a cabin in Idaho with enough guns and ammo to equip a small army.

    Is it worth it, yes. I've helped more people than I can count. I've kept bad things from happening and helped keep communities reasonably clean. I've kept my communites legal and in good standing with the Feds, which helps the citizens. I've also helped keep the balance between neighbors and between projects and the people they affect. I've worked on projects that have really helped the citizens, tho not many of them have gotten a lot press. Hope this helps.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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