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Thread: Need advice for a potential future planner

  1. #1
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    Need advice for a potential future planner

    Hi everyone!

    I am new to Cyburbia, and I'm glad I found it, because I have a lot of questions as I am considering applying for a Masters degree for next year. So please bear with me as I throw out all my questions/concerns:
    • I graduated with my bachelor's degree in economics. I think this is a useful degree to enter planning with (most people don't understand the importance of market forces in people's decision making). Are there any challenges to transitioning into planning from econ that anyone could bring to my attention?
    • I want to study and eventually work internationally. I'd love to get a degree from a school in the UK or Australia. I've found rankings of the top schools in the US but none of other countries. I've noticed the program at UCL getting mentioned several times here. What are the best schools internationally? And how hard are the admissions (even admissions to planning programs generally - is GPA, test scores, or essays most important?)?
    • How can I get experience? Right now I'm working at a law firm (with no intention of going to law school). Should I try to work at a real estate firm? I've been looking for planning jobs (AECOM) but they all require a master's degree or just simply aren't hiring. I don't want to enter into a career unless I'm absolutely sure it's the right fit for me. And as great as planning fits with my interests in theory, I won't know for sure until I gain some hands-on experience.

    Sorry if I ramble. I'm still figuring things out myself. All I know is that I love geography, economics, international travel, constantly working on something new, helping people in their everyday lives, and exploring cities, and I want to combine all of that into my career. Any advice would be most appreciated! Mucho thanks.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by tommyg View post
    Hi everyone!

    I am new to Cyburbia, and I'm glad I found it, because I have a lot of questions as I am considering applying for a Masters degree for next year. So please bear with me as I throw out all my questions/concerns:[LIST][*]I graduated with my bachelor's degree in economics. I think this is a useful degree to enter planning with (most people don't understand the importance of market forces in people's decision making). Are there any challenges to transitioning into planning from econ that anyone could bring to my attention?
    I would say many of us intuitively adopt the findings of Behavioral Economics, which sharpens the very low r2s and Ts in neoclassical econ. That is: people don't behave like econ textbooks and if you think you want to do this, you'll need to drop a lot of those assumptions. But not for development and real estate econ (altho you'll get some crazy proposals, that's for sure).

    My other advice would be to read many more threads on this board to get a better idea of the challenges that the profession faces right now and for the next few years. Good luck in your decisioning.

  3. #3
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by tommyg View post
    Hi everyone!

    I am new to Cyburbia, and I'm glad I found it, because I have a lot of questions as I am considering applying for a Masters degree for next year. So please bear with me as I throw out all my questions/concerns:
    • I graduated with my bachelor's degree in economics. I think this is a useful degree to enter planning with (most people don't understand the importance of market forces in people's decision making). Are there any challenges to transitioning into planning from econ that anyone could bring to my attention?

      Planning is not econ. Having an economic background will be tremendously advantageous if you go into Economic Development. If you go into Physical Planning, or any other branch, it will help form your decisions, but won't be as important day to day.

    • I want to study and eventually work internationally. I'd love to get a degree from a school in the UK or Australia. I've found rankings of the top schools in the US but none of other countries. I've noticed the program at UCL getting mentioned several times here. What are the best schools internationally? And how hard are the admissions (even admissions to planning programs generally - is GPA, test scores, or essays most important?)?

      Where did you find a ranking? Planetizen? That is junk. There is no good ranking system. I hope you didn't waste your money on that. Depending on what you want to do, there are many schools in the US and Internationally that can probably meet your needs. You need to know what you want to get out of them though before you apply.

    • How can I get experience? Right now I'm working at a law firm (with no intention of going to law school). Should I try to work at a real estate firm? I've been looking for planning jobs (AECOM) but they all require a master's degree or just simply aren't hiring. I don't want to enter into a career unless I'm absolutely sure it's the right fit for me. And as great as planning fits with my interests in theory, I won't know for sure until I gain some hands-on experience.

      You need to check out other threads around here in terms of what the planning field is offering right now. It might be better in 2 years, but your prospects aren't going to be easy to get right now. If you want to get into planning, you better be pretty sure it is what you want, because it is slim pickings and nothing is guaranteed. If you want to know about what is going on better - volunteer.

    Sorry if I ramble. I'm still figuring things out myself. All I know is that I love geography, economics, international travel, constantly working on something new, helping people in their everyday lives, and exploring cities, and I want to combine all of that into my career. Any advice would be most appreciated! Mucho thanks.
    Good luck in your journey. I would make sure that you are sure you want to spend the money on a degree to get into a field you might not get a job in for a couple years. If you don't love it. Don't do it. Good luck!
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  4. #4
    Economics would be a good undergrad background for planning, especially in firms where you could do econ analysis, housing development, econ development, market analysis, etc. It should give you a much bigger leg-up when you apply for jobs that have a quantitative analysis component.

    As far as entering into a field when you are absolutely sure it will be a good fit for you--well, that is a lot to ask, and it's the rare person (at any age) that feels like that. Most of us just try one thing after another, and then at some point slip into something. One thing you do need to consider, is that planning is in a state of contraction right now. THere are not enough jobs to go around. Which means many planners will have to enter into other careers and graduating students may not be able to enter the field. So I think it would be good to ride the line a little bit in a field that is relevant to what you want to do, but you're not putting all your eggs in one basket with planning.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2007
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    Pacific NW
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    Based on your undergrad degree, your interests and the current/future job market for planners, I'd suggest looking into economic development and real estate development programs. I know way too many highly experienced planners that are looking for jobs, while the few market/financial analysts I know are employed and (seemingly) happy.

    Supplement your degree with GIS, geography and/or planning courses, and you'll be well positioned for employment with an agency's ED department, a large developer or a market analysis firm.

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