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Thread: Planning firms in Orange County

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    Planning firms in Orange County

    In about a year I will be attending Cal Poly Pomona and I am hoping to find an internship before I get down there. I heard the city of Anaheim, County of Orange, or firms are the best place to look. Any suggestions? In general, do government jobs or firm jobs have better job security?

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    Cyburbian
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    Not to be too pessimistic, but in this economy there is no job security in either sector. As an intern you should be more focused on learning the about the profession and acquiring marketable skills rather than long term job security.

    As far as where to look for internships, there is no shortage of agencies and consulting firms in the Orange County and greater LA area. I would suggest talking to the internship coordinator for the Planning Department at Cal Poly Pomona to see where students have interned in the past. For consulting firms, check out the consultant sections of the OC APA and LA APA websites and start cold calling firms about informational interviews.

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    I heard you have more security in firms. I heard you are more likely to be laid off in a government job such as in a municapality or county job. I also heard the planning work field is expected to still be on the fastest growing jobs still. Eventually, there will be jobs down there again.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    In about a year I will be attending Cal Poly Pomona and I am hoping to find an internship before I get down there. I heard the city of Anaheim, County of Orange, or firms are the best place to look. Any suggestions? In general, do government jobs or firm jobs have better job security?
    Same answer as your other question. You should count on going to whatever place in the country will hire you. If anyone is hiring when you graduate.

    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    I heard you have more security in firms. I heard you are more likely to be laid off in a government job such as in a municapality or county job.
    Not necessarily true.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 30 Nov 2010 at 1:38 PM. Reason: double reply

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    I agree that once the economy picks up there will definitely be more planning jobs out there. However, I think there will be more competition for those jobs than there was prior to the real estate bubble bursting. Mainly due to the increase of interest in the profession thanks to publications like US News rating it as a good career choice.

    It's hard to say if consulting firms provide more job security than public agency jobs. My experience in the private sector has shown me that you're only as secure as the backlog of work that your company is able to build.

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    As a consultant, the key for rank and file workers is to say billable, no matter if it's good times or bad. About 95% of my clients have been public sector. If I worked only for developers I would have been out on the street years ago. Keep in mind, as a consultant there is a LOT of tasks that have to be done that aren't billable OR tasks that have to be marked as lost time when the budget isn't large enough. We also do marketing (networking, conferences, proposals, interviewing). These are also non-billable tasks that must be done.
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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The US News article seems to be based on old data. Both the public and private sector have been shedding jobs continually since 2007, and it will not stop for some time. Givernments do not have money and won't be getting any for some time, as sales are down (sales taxes), property values are down (property taxes), and the state and federal governments are cutting back (transferred funds). Citizens are in no mood to raise new taxes. Therefore, planning staff and planning consultants are out on the street.

    Even in good times, though, you should not be worried about job security in an internship. They last a semester or maybe a year, and you move on. Very few internships turn into multi-year assignments and/or regular employment. IN the same way, you should not expect to stay in your first planning job very long. Two years is enough to gain experience, and then you move up by moving out.

    Oh, and everything above is true. Except for urban19. Sorry.
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    I believe Cal Poly doesn't have the intern program any longer so they can save money. It seemed they'd usually place students with cities in the San Gabriel Valley. In regard to private OC firms, I've contacted EDAW, The Planning Center, RBF, Hogle-Ireland and Jennifer Lilley in the last year and they aren't even looking for voluntary staff.

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    Quote Originally posted by SoCalPlanner3 View post
    I believe Cal Poly doesn't have the intern program any longer so they can save money. It seemed they'd usually place students with cities in the San Gabriel Valley. In regard to private OC firms, I've contacted EDAW, The Planning Center, RBF, Hogle-Ireland and Jennifer Lilley in the last year and they aren't even looking for voluntary staff.
    They still do have the intern program. So the firms in Orange County aren't looking for voluntary positions? That's hard to believe. What about working for a city like Costa Mesa or Fullerton?

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    They still do have the intern program. So the firms in Orange County aren't looking for voluntary positions? That's hard to believe. What about working for a city like Costa Mesa or Fullerton?
    Shouldn't you be making these calls yourself?
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    Cyburbian cng's avatar
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    My jurisdiction used a consulting firm in the OC for the General Plan update. It was 2006--good times, money was still somewhat flowing. We are now updating our zoning code--in house. My understanding is that many firms have let people go, simply because so many of their clients (cities) are now using in-house staff for advance planning projects. As for which sector has more stability... I'd say public--but I know of plenty of jurisdictions that have let go planners as well.

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    Quote Originally posted by cng View post
    My jurisdiction used a consulting firm in the OC for the General Plan update. It was 2006--good times, money was still somewhat flowing. We are now updating our zoning code--in house. My understanding is that many firms have let people go, simply because so many of their clients (cities) are now using in-house staff for advance planning projects. As for which sector has more stability... I'd say public--but I know of plenty of jurisdictions that have let go planners as well.
    Well I guess I can look into the cities first, then private sector. My graduation is 3 years away, so we will see what's open then. If students got jobs in 07-08 when the economy was good, then I am sure in 013-14 I can get a job.

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    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    They still do have the intern program. So the firms in Orange County aren't looking for voluntary positions? That's hard to believe. What about working for a city like Costa Mesa or Fullerton?
    Start contacting the firms and OC cities. Iirc there's 35 cities in OC, so maybe you'll find something, if you make enough calls...

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    Quote Originally posted by SoCalPlanner3 View post
    Start contacting the firms and OC cities. Iirc there's 35 cities in OC, so maybe you'll find something, if you make enough calls...
    Well I am not sure interning my first year is going to be a good idea. They say my first year classes are the hardest from getting used to the quarter system. I'm pretty sure I might even have class Friday and Im sure they want someone helping for more than just one day.

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    Volunteer Efforts Need to be worth it

    As i have said before in previous threads, volunteering is harder than it may sound for the employer and the potential volunteer. The employer needs to have plenty of work and the key is "time" to stay on top of the volunteer and make sure they are doing to job correctly. Other than filing and some other remedial things around the office, a volunteer in the public sector runs into too many issues of whether what they are doing is "learning a skill and providing a product" such as aiding in staff reports, researching, assisting the counter etc. Federal rules trigger pay for these types of services because it is now considered an internship versus volunteering.

    As for the private sector, you have to bring a needed talent for firms to even consider hiring an intern or bring on a volunteer other than for filing purposes. Firms at this point need to stay lean and competitive. Being able to bring in a "skill" to the firm such as CAD, GIS, photoshop or some other tangible product production is a must for a minimum discussion of bringing on an intern or volunteer. Again, it is also boils down to time. Does a manager or pm have time to train? Since most firms have trimmed the fat and are down to "core" employees these days, the answer is no 9 times out 10.
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    As i have said before in previous threads, volunteering is harder than it may sound for the employer and the potential volunteer. The employer needs to have plenty of work and the key is "time" to stay on top of the volunteer and make sure they are doing to job correctly. Other than filing and some other remedial things around the office, a volunteer in the public sector runs into too many issues of whether what they are doing is "learning a skill and providing a product" such as aiding in staff reports, researching, assisting the counter etc. Federal rules trigger pay for these types of services because it is now considered an internship versus volunteering.

    As for the private sector, you have to bring a needed talent for firms to even consider hiring an intern or bring on a volunteer other than for filing purposes. Firms at this point need to stay lean and competitive. Being able to bring in a "skill" to the firm such as CAD, GIS, photoshop or some other tangible product production is a must for a minimum discussion of bringing on an intern or volunteer. Again, it is also boils down to time. Does a manager or pm have time to train? Since most firms have trimmed the fat and are down to "core" employees these days, the answer is no 9 times out 10.
    I plan on getting a GIS certificate why I'm at Pomona. I took a class on photoshop in high school and haven't tried CAD yet.

    I think planners were getting jobs in 07-08, then what's to say I won't when the economy is better again. It's three years away and I am sure alot of the jobless planners will be absorbed by that time. SoCal has many cities large and small, and many private firms. Everyone may not be hiring right now, but when the economy picks up and their is federal money and people are moving again there will be money to hire planners again.

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    Cyburbian
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    If you are waiting for a handout to keep you employed you are in the wrong profession.

    Planning is driven primarily by actual growth. Many newly-minted graduates from outside of California will be competing with you for vacancies. I would spend some time learning CEQA. As for the federal government, our federal long-range transportation plan (the equivalent of TEA-21) which has nothing to do with the stimulus is struggling through Congress. Infrastructure/transportation/CDBGs/etc. are discretionary programs and are the first to be scaled back before defence, medicare, and social security. We are the bottom of the list.

    I love visiting California but there is no way I would ever work and live there full time (sorry Raf). The State alone has too many problems and I think it impacts planners directly.
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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    I plan on getting a GIS certificate why I'm at Pomona. I took a class on photoshop in high school and haven't tried CAD yet.

    I think planners were getting jobs in 07-08, then what's to say I won't when the economy is better again. It's three years away and I am sure alot of the jobless planners will be absorbed by that time. SoCal has many cities large and small, and many private firms. Everyone may not be hiring right now, but when the economy picks up and their is federal money and people are moving again there will be money to hire planners again.
    Federal money? State money? Local money? Those are all good memories, but money - especially for functions like planning - has been getting scarcer for over a decade. Post-recession, we will not see government coffers flush with funds and politicians willing to expand government back to its previous levels. The recession is only beginning in government. Obama stated yesterday that he wanted to freeze federal government pay for two years. At the state and local level, people are still being laid off, furloughed, and losing benefits that long offset the lower pay found in most government jobs. Do not delude yourself into thinking that this is a normal economic blip and all will return to "normal" in a couple of years.

    I do not want to discourage you from going into planning. It is a great profession, I have loved it, and I would not want to do anything else. Do go into it with your eyes open, though. The job market is tight and it will remain tight. By some estimates 20-30% of planning jobs in the country were eliminated since 2007. Three or four years will not be enough to re-absorb all of the planners who are not working now, plus the newly minted ones graduating each year. I doubt that the number of planning jobs will even return to its pre-recession levels within the next five years.
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    The real-estate "boom" gave planners unrealistic expectations. We were more in demand than we ever before. Students who graduated mid-decade through today are misguided into thinking that demands for our work are increasing. I think it will take 3-4 years to recover, but it will recover quicker in some parts of the country than others. As the chapter professional development officer, I am planning on speaking to both planning programs in my state this spring to address these issues. If the planning profession can't provide new jobs then at least we should prepare students to be more competitive.
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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I love visiting California but there is no way I would ever work and live there full time (sorry Raf). The State alone has too many problems and I think it impacts planners directly.
    Yes the state does have problems, but this is what i call home, and won't leave it anytime soon. What state doesn't have its problems?

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Post-recession, we will not see government coffers flush with funds and politicians willing to expand government back to its previous levels. The recession is only beginning in government.
    As always Card, to the point and right now. Public sector workers that are laid off more than likely will not see that position come back. Public sector workers that are still at work will be asked to do more with less. At this point i am thankful for a still great bennies comparative to my private sector gig, but the pay, meh, it's a job.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    I think in 3-4 years it will recover and open up jobs for planners in California. Maybe not a job with the highest pay. 50k a year would satisfy me. Even if it was a part time job at first I'd be happy. Pomona is an accredited planning school and I think my ba from there will be worth something to employers and also having a GIS certificate.

    I want to be a urban planner and stay in California. I think that goal is reasonable.

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    In general, when the economy picks up where will the concentration of jobs be? Somebody told me Sacramento, LA, and Bishop needs people and also the navy bases.
    Last edited by urban19; 02 Dec 2010 at 1:34 PM.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Yes the state does have problems, but this is what i call home, and won't leave it anytime soon. What state doesn't have its problems?
    No problems here in Shangri-frickin'-La!

    So what if my house is worth 20 percent of what it was worth 8 years ago? No not 20 percent less, 20 percent!

    Over time this will have disaterous effects on the revenues brought in for local governments. Lower valued homes means less tax revenue. We are caught in a donward spiral.
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    The state of California is projected to have a $20 billion annual structural deficit until 2016.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...4486048.column

    The places that are probably hiring in a few years are affluent cities and cities with strong sales tax generators. If you can get 2-3 years of planning experience under your belt, maybe you can get that $50k job..

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SoCalPlanner3 View post
    The state of California is projected to have a $20 billion annual structural deficit until 2016.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...4486048.column

    The places that are probably hiring in a few years are affluent cities and cities with strong sales tax generators. If you can get 2-3 years of planning experience under your belt, maybe you can get that $50k job..
    So basically I can be permitting strip centers for place like Emeryville, Roseville, the City of Industry, Tustin and Bell right?
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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