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Thread: Gaining relevant work experience before grad school?

  1. #1

    Gaining relevant work experience before grad school?

    I am interested in pursuing my master's in Urban Planning but am wanting to get relevant work experience first. I have a BA in English and all internships I have found want you to have a degree in a related field or still be in school.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to the types of positions/sectors to look in for entry-level jobs as far as getting my foot in the door goes?

    It is frustrating to see that I can't attain any sort of professional experience or idea of the work with my undergraduate degree before I decide to pursue tens of thousands of dollars of debt to get a Master's degree in a field I have no tangible experience with.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
    Jun 2003
    Don't take 8 yrs off and have irrelevant work experience like I did.

  3. #3
    Mar 2008
    Perth, Western Australia
    I don't know what it is like in America, but here in Perth (Australia) I had to wait until I was a third year student before I could get a work experience position (which lead to a paid casual position) with a large private planning and design firm.

    My best suggestion would be to try and get involved with seminars and presentations etc as much as you can. You could try contacting public/government planning departments and private firms (small and large) and explaining to them that you are interested in planning and want to do some work experience to get a taste for it. Maybe you will get someone who will give you a chance.

    My one caution would be that you don't scare yourself off pursuing it as a career. You have to understand that IF you were to get a work experience position the work you would be doing would be extremely dull and boring as you're just a lackey.. most likely reading through documents and doing research (that's pretty much what I do). Also as you would have no prior planning knowledge or experience it may seem all too alien or difficult to you and put you off.

    Just be aware of that OK. One guy who was a second year student did work experience where I work and he actually changed his degree after a couple of weeks work experience because he hated it so much. It's a pity as he might have been interested in planning but he probably have misconceptions of what sort of work he would be involved with.

  4. #4
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Volunteer. You won't get paid for it, but you will get some sort of experience. I hired an intern two years ago based on volunteer experience and she was great. I got one last year on being in the field, and she wasn't so great. I think that volunteering also gets you a reference in the field. That can speak a tremendous amount to whether or not you would be good at a job. If someone I trust says you worked well at their company, I would consider you for an internship position. I wouldn't for a full time job, but for an internship many places are more flexible on what they want. Good luck!
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  5. #5
    1. AmeriCorps! Tons of positions aimed at solving urban problems
    2. A summer planning program, like the [In]City program at Berkeley: http://dcrp.ced.berkeley.edu/programs/summer I attended this year and it was great. I hear Harvard has a similar program.

  6. #6
    Hey Twin Citizen,

    I don't have the access to PM you, so apologies in advance for posting here - but might you be willing to share your experiences about the Berkeley summer program? I know a few of us are wondering about it. I started a thread about it a couple weeks ago here:



    Quote Originally posted by Twin Citizen View post
    2. A summer planning program, like the [In]City program at Berkeley: http://dcrp.ced.berkeley.edu/programs/summer I attended this year and it was great. I hear Harvard has a similar program.

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