Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 55

Thread: Any career advice for an entry-level planner in Boston?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    8

    Any career advice for an entry-level planner in Boston?

    Dear Cyburbia,

    I am a longtime reader of these forums but first time poster! Recently, I've decided that my interest in urban planning (mainly transport) is more than just a hobby and decided to pursue this wonderful industry as a career. I'm in my mid 20s and have been working for more than a year as Pricing Analyst but left to travel to South Africa for the World Cup.

    After being completely disgusted with Jo'burg, I couldn't also help but be completely fascinated by its unique energy. I couldn't get this idea of a community like Sandton existing within a few miles of Alexendra township...but thats what makes joburg so nuts!

    Upon coming back home, I've been working in an elementary school as an instructional aide but DYING to get into planning.

    Does anyone have any advice for me? I'm thinking about some entry-level jobs and Internship (preferably paid). I plan on attending grad school in fall 2012 while i beef up my grad school application.

    Any help would be appreciated,

    From,
    first time poster.

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    10,120
    Well you need to get some experience in planning before you do anything. For someone that doesn't have any degree in planning I would look to volunteer. Get your feet wet at least.

    I assume you are going to go to grad school for planning. As long as you can show your passion for planning, many school do not require a strong background in planning. In this economy, finding a job with a degree in planning or a related field is going to be next to impossible. Look to gain experience through boards, volunteer opportunities, or internships (if you can find one).

    Good luck!
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,169
    A lot of communities and organizations around the Boston area will soon start looking for summer interns. Look at these postings, especially on the Mass. APA website. Most of them are probably looking for Master's students, but you could ask to be considered if you're are planning to go to school shortly. If not, you could maybe volunteer for a CDC or a Main Streets group- but those aren't transportation related really.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    8
    Quote Originally posted by Greenescapist View post
    A lot of communities and organizations around the Boston area will soon start looking for summer interns. Look at these postings, especially on the Mass. APA website. Most of them are probably looking for Master's students, but you could ask to be considered if you're are planning to go to school shortly. If not, you could maybe volunteer for a CDC or a Main Streets group- but those aren't transportation related really.
    Thanks for the advice. Right now I am looking in the Boston area but having trouble finding something. I work in education right now and really would leave at any second for some planning experience...

    I plan on going to a summer program to help develop my portfolio. Do you have any thoughts on the value of these pre-graduate programs in planning?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    As far south of SoCal as I Will Go
    Posts
    5,116
    Quote Originally posted by tricky927 View post
    Right now I am looking in the Boston area but having trouble finding something.
    I am going to be blunt. You will have trouble finding anything without either a) experience or b) the right degree. Period. Even worse, you are in a highly sought after metro area, which intensifies competition of jobs. Stick with the volunteering foot in the door gigs and get the right degree to get you where you want to go.

    Good luck.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  6. #6
    You might try working as a community organizer. Many community based organizations take interns and its a way of beginning to understand what goes on at the ground level.

    But without some beginning, its going to be a tough time.

  7. #7
    To go along with CPSURaf, since getting a job will likely be very competitive especially with no experience, you need to try to get that experience without investing in another degree. Don't just think you'd like planning. No matter how enthusiastic you are about the IDEA of planning, do not spend time and money getting a graduate degree until youve had at least some insight into what a planner really does. And not the kind of insight you get here, but the kind you get in real life, on site, doing volunteer work, or shadowing somebody, or whatever.

    Good luck.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,471
    Along these same recent lines, the OP will be competing with degreed and credentialed planners for internships. I would intern one of these folks in a heartbeat over someone with zero experience or education. Period. End of story. You have to start somewhere, even if it is standing next to a LaRouchie gathering signatures. And you will definitely be moving several times in your career, if you choose to get loans to get into a profession that is struggling and will continue to do so for at least another half-decade as the glut of applicants clears.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    8
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    To go along with CPSURaf, since getting a job will likely be very competitive especially with no experience, you need to try to get that experience without investing in another degree. Don't just think you'd like planning. No matter how enthusiastic you are about the IDEA of planning, do not spend time and money getting a graduate degree until youve had at least some insight into what a planner really does. And not the kind of insight you get here, but the kind you get in real life, on site, doing volunteer work, or shadowing somebody, or whatever.

    Good luck.
    I am going to be applying to some pre-graduate summer courses in planning. what are your thoughts on the structure of these programs?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by tricky927 View post
    I am going to be applying to some pre-graduate summer courses in planning. what are your thoughts on the structure of these programs?
    Pre-graduate summer courses? Have no idea. If it's a relatively cheap and quick way to get exposure, and if that could give you the connections for actual on-the-job exposure, it might work, but honestly I don't know.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    8
    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    Along these same recent lines, the OP will be competing with degreed and credentialed planners for internships. I would intern one of these folks in a heartbeat over someone with zero experience or education. Period. End of story. You have to start somewhere, even if it is standing next to a LaRouchie gathering signatures. And you will definitely be moving several times in your career, if you choose to get loans to get into a profession that is struggling and will continue to do so for at least another half-decade as the glut of applicants clears.
    i have a BA in Political Science from a top university. 2 years work experience in finance and previous time interning in documentary film. Does this count for nothing?

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by tricky927 View post
    i have a BA in Political Science from a top university. 2 years work experience in finance and previous time interning in documentary film. Does this count for nothing?
    Only one way to find out.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    8
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Only one way to find out.
    you are all right. i am well aware of the getting my feet in the door part but in boston i feel that there is no room at all, entry-level or professional, student or seasoned professional.

    my plan is to keep my eyes open while continuing to work in education...then take an intensive summer program to really prep myself for the future. after that, im hoping summer/fall internships will ahve opened to prepare my application for fall 2012

  14. #14
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,471
    Quote Originally posted by tricky927 View post
    i have a BA in Political Science from a top university. 2 years work experience in finance and previous time interning in documentary film. Does this count for nothing?
    No, not against degreed planners in a Planning/Comm'y Development Dept. Unless you can find some sort of policy place like a COG or similar that is looking for more than permit processing and filing. PoliSci will be good if you decide to get a degree in planning.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,247
    buy a shovel. you'll need it in the winter.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  16. #16
    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    No, not against degreed planners in a Planning/Comm'y Development Dept. Unless you can find some sort of policy place like a COG or similar that is looking for more than permit processing and filing. PoliSci will be good if you decide to get a degree in planning.
    There are a lot of planners who come from other academic backgrounds, such as poli sci, geography, liberal arts... etc. You'll just have to sell YOURSELF at an interview, and not your DEGREE, like others try to do.

  17. #17
    My two cents here, as I was in a similar situation a few months ago...

    I was previously working in financial services (retirement plan marketing) in Des Moines, IA, but realized over the course of the last couple years that my interest in planning was more than a casual curiosity.

    When I set out to break into the planning field, I knew lack of experience/education would be an issue (I have a BBA in Marketing).

    Ultimately, I was able to find something with the Arlington County gov't in Virginia - I work for a group that markets/promotes public transportation options in the area. There was some luck involved, for sure, but I really sold my a) passion for planning/smart growth and b) experience in marketing/sales.

    So, while I'm not a planner, I've got a foot in the door - making more industry contacts every day, and applying to grad schools for planning, starting a program this Fall.

    Long story short, is maybe you can parlay your experience in finance into a job in the business office of a county/city gov't, economic development group, planning firm, etc. Get yourself some exposure, start making contacts and work your way into the planning field.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,471
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    There are a lot of planners who come from other academic backgrounds, such as poli sci, geography, liberal arts... etc. You'll just have to sell YOURSELF at an interview, and not your DEGREE, like others try to do.
    This is true. I fully agree. But in context, my overarching point is the OP is competing with degreed, experienced planners in a current environment where depts are trying to save costs by hiring interns to do staff work, and there is a large pool of out of work planners. That is the reason why the OP is getting no play. At any other time in the past a PoliSci would be just fine (not so sure about the future, but that is OT).

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,169
    Quote Originally posted by tricky927 View post
    Thanks for the advice. Right now I am looking in the Boston area but having trouble finding something. I work in education right now and really would leave at any second for some planning experience...

    I plan on going to a summer program to help develop my portfolio. Do you have any thoughts on the value of these pre-graduate programs in planning?
    You're planning on going to a Masters program, right? Then I would skip that summer program unless it's cheap and really interesting. I don't know the cirriculum, but I'm skeptical of the value. Planning programs start you at square one. I was a political science major, too, in undergrad.

    I would apply to a Masters program and do whatever work interests you until then. Maybe volunteer for something on the side. You'd be competing with planning students for internships. Good luck!

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    8
    Quote Originally posted by Greenescapist View post
    You're planning on going to a Masters program, right? Then I would skip that summer program unless it's cheap and really interesting. I don't know the cirriculum, but I'm skeptical of the value. Planning programs start you at square one. I was a political science major, too, in undergrad.

    I would apply to a Masters program and do whatever work interests you until then. Maybe volunteer for something on the side. You'd be competing with planning students for internships. Good luck!
    Hi everyone! Thank you for all your help. The coursework seems interesting in the summer program but what is most attractive is the "studio time." It seems that about 70% of the course is devoted to working for a client on promoting green development in a west coast city.

    There seem to be a lot of people here posting from Boston! I am curious...do any of you guys know anything available where you work? I am more than willing to take an internship (preferably paid) to get some experience! If so, please PM me and I'll be more than happy to send my resume and info.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Chowtown, USA
    Posts
    40
    I suggest creating a Linkedin account and then searching for direct contacts at places you would like to intern at. Your best bet will probably be alumni from your college who work in the field and will probably be willing to give you 30 minutes of their time either in person or via email.

    Also, use resources from your undergrad career services to formulate your questions to get maximum traction. Trust me, this will be much more successful than calling city hall and asking for an internship.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian rover's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Northeast, USA
    Posts
    89
    To be blunt...I don't see how you have a chance. I don't see how you'll even get an interview. I've got an MA in Geography, and Boston has been one of my targeted places. I'm 8 months in with NO job and 4 interviews (1 with a planning agency!!!).
    I've been targeting MPAC (in Boston) for 2 years!!!!!!!!!!!
    Planning is dead, entry level=impossible.
    This for people WITH planning degrees/intern experience.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    8
    Quote Originally posted by rover View post
    To be blunt...I don't see how you have a chance. I don't see how you'll even get an interview. I've got an MA in Geography, and Boston has been one of my targeted places. I'm 8 months in with NO job and 4 interviews (1 with a planning agency!!!).
    I've been targeting MPAC (in Boston) for 2 years!!!!!!!!!!!
    Planning is dead, entry level=impossible.
    This for people WITH planning degrees/intern experience.
    Rover,

    you seem like you are having a tough ttime but why did u get a MA in geography and not urban planning? can you please elaborate a bit more on your background?

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    2,802
    Quote Originally posted by rover View post
    To be blunt...I don't see how you have a chance. I don't see how you'll even get an interview. I've got an MA in Geography, and Boston has been one of my targeted places. I'm 8 months in with NO job and 4 interviews (1 with a planning agency!!!).
    I've been targeting MPAC (in Boston) for 2 years!!!!!!!!!!!
    Planning is dead, entry level=impossible.
    This for people WITH planning degrees/intern experience.
    Rover you have a piss-poor attitude. You PM me for advice, and I give you more advice than I have given any planner or student in the past 6 years! You don't show one ounce of gratitude, and you demand that I shell out EVERYTHING to you, including all of my confidential job hunting info? Why? You told me I was some crochety old pompous egoist (bro, I just turned 30 last week). Your resume and cover letter are mediocre. You don't tailor ANYTHING to the job description and I see the same template over and over again. When I refuse to hand over my files, you take it personally and you swear at me like a little kid.

    Do I need to go on?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Posts
    2,281
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Rover you have a piss-poor attitude. You PM me for advice, and I give you more advice than I have given any planner or student in the past 6 years! You don't show one ounce of gratitude, and you demand that I shell out EVERYTHING to you, including all of my confidential job hunting info? Why? You told me I was some crochety old pompous egoist (bro, I just turned 30 last week). Your resume and cover letter are mediocre. You don't tailor ANYTHING to the job description and I see the same template over and over again. When I refuse to hand over my files, you take it personally and you swear at me like a little kid.

    Do I need to go on?
    Not to pile on, but that would explain why he's been looking for 8 months and only has 4 interviews and no job yet. Sorry. Maybe that was harsh.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Entry level career development w/o masters
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 9
    Last post: 07 Jan 2014, 11:09 PM
  2. Entry level career questions
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 8
    Last post: 13 Oct 2010, 4:23 AM
  3. Replies: 21
    Last post: 12 Sep 2009, 12:12 PM
  4. Entry level woes... advice?
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 31
    Last post: 14 Apr 2009, 10:59 PM