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Thread: Non-planning job, but want to stay current (advice)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Non-planning job, but want to stay current (advice)

    I graduated in 2009 with a bachelors degree in urban planning and another in geography. Since then, I only managed to obtain two jobs. The first was at a law firm as a file clerk, where I was laid off after 3 months. The second I'll be starting Monday as a legal assistant for my county. Both of these jobs have nothing to do with urban planning or geography. I'm still in search for an urban planning and/or geography related job (GIS, et al), though they are difficult to find and obtain. I was wondering if it would be a good idea to create my own projects to work on to stay up to date on the subjects and the city/county, etc. Or would that be a waste of time? Would volunteering or potentially working on the weekend be a better idea to have so as to have some sort of record of this?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    You are absolutely on the right track. Work with local non-profits in the community/economic development sector. Volunteer to assist the planning department. Even go out and find communities that need a "project" completed. Get any practical experience you can. It will benefit you in the long run.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
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    Sometimes the local commission or review body needs volunteers/assistants. Does your town have local advisory councils?...usually they will deal with specific neighborhood issues.
    "I'm a boomerang, doesn't matter how you throw me
    I turn around and I'm back in the game
    Even better than the old me"

  4. #4
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Volunteering is always a great option. Getting your understanding of how things work in your area is a great way to get your foot in the door, not to mention if you make yourself look good, you could get a nice recommendation letter.

    I don't know if doing random projects is really a great idea, but maybe see if you could volunteer to help a project the planning department is working on. If they need GIS work or something, volunteer to get it done. Also, Zoning Boards are a good way to keep yourself in the loop. See if there are any vacancy, and if there aren't put your name in to be contacted if one comes up. Good luck!
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by El Barto View post
    ...The second I'll be starting Monday as a legal assistant for my county. Both of these jobs have nothing to do with urban planning or geography. ...
    Land use law is very important in municipal planning. Maybe your new job is more related to planning than you think.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Creating your own projects is a smart move, and I highly recommend it. It's a good move for businesses, students, in good times and bad. I don't think enough planners or students do this and just wait for something to magically fall in their lap.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Thank you all for the responses. I appreciate all views and advice.

    I'm a member of the board of adjustment, though they have only met twice this year! In the past I have volunteered at various city agencies and have contacted to resume, but its going slow (which is understandable, of course).

    You are absolutely on the right track. Work with local non-profits in the community/economic development sector. Volunteer to assist the planning department. Even go out and find communities that need a "project" completed. Get any practical experience you can. It will benefit you in the long run.
    I don’t think I am, no offense. I think I would be if I had some sort of job relating to urban planning or geography, but so far I haven’t been able to get one. This is mostly a part of the economy, as we all know. I suppose its been a success because I decided to potentially go to law school and have so far found law firm or law/legal related jobs.

    Land use law is very important in municipal planning. Maybe your new job is more related to planning than you think.
    Yes, you’re absolutely right and I would have been overjoyed to have been a part of such a firm or other organization. Unfortunately, the firm I was with focused on personal injury, bankruptcy and criminal cases. For the county, I’ll be doing legal support for the court.

    Creating your own projects is a smart move, and I highly recommend it. It's a good move for businesses, students, in good times and bad. I don't think enough planners or students do this and just wait for something to magically fall in their lap.
    Thanks, I appreciate it. I’m not being biased in this response, but I think I should go ahead and do my own projects…identify a problem or potential development area and do what I and my fellow students did in school, or go to new lengths (I won’t go into all that here but I am confident you all know all of it better than I do). Or volunteer over the weekend when the opportunity presents itself.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I question the usefulness of creating your own projects. It can be seen as saying "I'm a planner and I'm here to save you from yourself." If I were hiring I would wonder about how well connected to reality a job applicant is who goes out on her or his own and solves problems no one else is worrried about. Much better and more useful would be to find organizations or agencies that need a planning project done and help with that. That would tell me you have some real world experience (likely to include the experience of getting your ideas shot down -- something all planners have to get used to quickly).

  9. #9
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    I question the usefulness of creating your own projects. ... Much better and more useful would be to find organizations or agencies that need a planning project done and help with that. That would tell me you have some real world experience ...
    My thoughts as well.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Since I don't want to start a new thread, I'll ask this here... How do I continue gaining planning experience, if I'm working a non-planning job from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.? Is the only option getting on with a review board that meets in the evening??

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally posted by SoCalPlanner3 View post
    Since I don't want to start a new thread, I'll ask this here... How do I continue gaining planning experience, if I'm working a non-planning job from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.? Is the only option getting on with a review board that meets in the evening??
    I am in the same exact situation and I wanted to know as well. Any advice would be appreciated.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SoCalPlanner3 View post
    ...How do I continue gaining planning experience, if I'm working a non-planning job from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.? Is the only option getting on with a review board that meets in the evening??
    You could assist citizens and small businesses with various permitting issues and appeals. Decks, garages, boat parking, site plan reviews, driveways...anything that requires a special approval.

    If you work within local government, you'd want to hang up your shingle outside the city limits.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Again, look to non-profits. There may be a housing agency out there that needs a study completed. Maybe there is a social service agency that needs to collect data. Perhaps somebody is starting up a community gardening project and needs to identify and secure suitable locations. Any of these or similar activities can be performed at night, with perhaps a couple of daytime meetings.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian cng's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by El Barto View post
    I graduated in 2009 with a bachelors degree in urban planning and another in geography. Since then, I only managed to obtain two jobs. The first was at a law firm as a file clerk, where I was laid off after 3 months. The second I'll be starting Monday as a legal assistant for my county. Both of these jobs have nothing to do with urban planning or geography. I'm still in search for an urban planning and/or geography related job (GIS, et al), though they are difficult to find and obtain.
    I know foreclosures in Arizona are high, but there is still some growth in that state, allowing for some work opportunities, even if they are in fringe areas. The Arizona League of Cities has a pretty good compilation of municipal jobs, some of which are planning related, most of which are not. An internship is still the best route to go, in terms of getting real world experience--but, if you already have an 8 to 5 schedule, you may contact a planning agency and ask if you could do some pro bono research project. I work at a municipal planning agency, and I can think of a handful of research projects that a volunteer with some planning education could take on now. An example would be a parking demand/management analysis. I hope you find your way back in the planning field, good luck.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by cng View post
    I know foreclosures in Arizona are high, but there is still some growth in that state, allowing for some work opportunities, even if they are in fringe areas. The Arizona League of Cities has a pretty good compilation of municipal jobs, some of which are planning related, most of which are not. An internship is still the best route to go, in terms of getting real world experience--but, if you already have an 8 to 5 schedule, you may contact a planning agency and ask if you could do some pro bono research project. I work at a municipal planning agency, and I can think of a handful of research projects that a volunteer with some planning education could take on now. An example would be a parking demand/management analysis. I hope you find your way back in the planning field, good luck.
    Cng, I'm interested in hearing more about your research projects. I'm in SoCal and have three years of planning experience, but haven't found full-time planning employment. I've worked voluntarily for the last year, but will need to take on a full-time non-planning job soon. Is it ok if I private message you??

  16. #16
    Cyburbian cng's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SoCalPlanner3 View post
    Cng, I'm interested in hearing more about your research projects. I'm in SoCal and have three years of planning experience, but haven't found full-time planning employment. I've worked voluntarily for the last year, but will need to take on a full-time non-planning job soon. Is it ok if I private message you??
    Sure, absolutely.

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