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Thread: Internship/entry level position chances

  1. #1
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    Internship/entry level position chances

    Hi, Im new to the website. Ive always been interested in urban planning but only recently have I thought about pursuing a career in the field. I'm a soon-to-be graduating college senior with a B.S in history and a double minor in business administration and political science. I've had two pretty good internships: one in the public sector and a marketing internship at a Fortune 500 company. I'm not familiar with GIS and only have limited experience with AutoCAD. I'm realistic to the fact that the job market still hasn't recovered and that I don't have any prior schooling/experience in urban planning doesn't help my chances.

    I know I will have to attend grad school to get a MUP and would plan on starting that within the next 2-3 years. I would just really like to get some experience in the field before I commit myself to another degree. I'm really interested in urban planning and I'm pretty sure this is the career path I want to follow.

    So basically, my question is what kind of chance do I have at landing any type of internship or entry level position? Or, what skills would I have to pick up to increase my chances?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Definitely get an internship to see if this is really what you want to do, and to start building connections and gaining experience. Even if you start out as a volunteer. Just call or email some of the municipalities or consulting firms you might want to work for and see if they could use some free help. Or to start out, ask if you can possibly job-shadow them for a day or learn more about the planning field by asking them questions one-on-one.

    Also, having some GIS experience is becoming a pretty standard requirement, so I would encourage you to take a couple classes to familiarize yourself with it.

    And since you don't have a bachelor's in planning, geography, architecture, or the like, I would definitely do the MUP. History is a good undergrad major to have though, and so that in combination with a MUP would make you an ideal person for historic preservation. Chances are planning will still take several years to recover, so it's probably better to be in school while the job market is still bad.
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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Alex89 View post
    I'm not familiar with GIS and only have limited experience with AutoCAD. I'm realistic to the fact that the job market still hasn't recovered and that I don't have any prior schooling/experience in urban planning doesn't help my chances.

    I know I will have to attend grad school to get a MUP and would plan on starting that within the next 2-3 years. I would just really like to get some experience in the field before I commit myself to another degree. I'm really interested in urban planning and I'm pretty sure this is the career path I want to follow.

    So basically, my question is what kind of chance do I have at landing any type of internship or entry level position? Or, what skills would I have to pick up to increase my chances?
    Thanks!
    Fortunately we just had this discussion and I can paste from that thread:

    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.
    That is: a long road ahead. Good luck.

  4. #4
    Your chances: slim to none. Unfortunately, you should definitely find an internship to see if planning is something you want to do. Thus, the Catch-22. Solution: look for internships. If you can't find any, definitely DO NOT do a masters just for the privilege of maybe finding out what planning is like. That's absurd on so many levels.

    I, personally, would NOT spend 3 more years to get a masters in something I know nothing about, in a profession that has been hit VERY hard by the recession (read: large portion of planning jobs permanently evaporated), and a profession that generally kind of sucks for a lot of practitioners. Sorry you have such a nebulous degree emphasis, but you probably should have done something more practical. Thing is, planning itself isn't even that practical. In fact, a history major wanting to go into planning for work is like a philosophy major wanting to do creative writing in order to feed himself. If you're willing to go back to school so soon, why not do something more practical and useful? Getting a masters isn't going to guarantee you finding a planning job, nor even, I think, marginally improve your chances.

    DISCLAIMER: Personal advice ahead! There's all this emphasis on finding the type of work that you love, and nurturing your career, but it's all bullshit. Your work will never fulfill you in the way you've probably been led to believe. So do something that you find interesting, that will be in demand, and that you could do all day long, but that doesn't require the kind of investment to create some "professional" persona simply to feed all these machines of bureaucracy that planners are slaves to.

    I know it's all fairly blunt and probably not at all the kind of input you were looking for, but as I reply to more and more of these "seeking-advice" threads I tend to get more blunt with it. In any case, good luck, and I hope you get where you need to be, but please don't assign yourself--your life--to the idea of being a planner. Planning is just a job, just another white-collar, desk-jockeying position, not a calling.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Your chances: slim to none....

    [B]DISCLAIMER: Personal advice ahead! [/B]There's all this emphasis on finding the type of work that you love, and nurturing your career, but it's all bullshit. Your work will never fulfill you in the way you've probably been led to believe. So do something that you find interesting, that will be in demand, and that you could do all day long, but that doesn't require the kind of investment to create some "professional" persona simply to feed all these machines of bureaucracy that planners are slaves to.
    Chocolate Chip channels ColoGI!

    Harmonic convergence aside, I think the colored is both important and true. The colored text is old, outdated advice from a time that has passed. We are in new times.

    You should get a career that ensures you continue to work relatively continuously, or is flexible enough that when the three-four-five times you are laid off in your working life you can do something to keep some income coming in so you don't lose your house or (equally likely) get kicked out of your rental.

    In my view this career means nurturing our aging population or caring for our fat, poorly-nutritioned population and their resultant health issues that don't get covered by insurance companies that don't have to cover their American diseases. Maybe something that tries to adapt to the wildly swinging weather, like disaster relief. Of course, these careers pay less. But at least they are steady - you want to take some of your pay in continuity or flexibility. If you can take some of your pay in scenery, all the better.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Your chances: slim to none. Unfortunately, you should definitely find an internship to see if planning is something you want to do. Thus, the Catch-22. Solution: look for internships. If you can't find any, definitely DO NOT do a masters just for the privilege of maybe finding out what planning is like. That's absurd on so many levels.

    I, personally, would NOT spend 3 more years to get a masters in something I know nothing about, in a profession that has been hit VERY hard by the recession (read: large portion of planning jobs permanently evaporated), and a profession that generally kind of sucks for a lot of practitioners. Sorry you have such a nebulous degree emphasis, but you probably should have done something more practical. Thing is, planning itself isn't even that practical. In fact, a history major wanting to go into planning for work is like a philosophy major wanting to do creative writing in order to feed himself. If you're willing to go back to school so soon, why not do something more practical and useful? Getting a masters isn't going to guarantee you finding a planning job, nor even, I think, marginally improve your chances.

    DISCLAIMER: Personal advice ahead! There's all this emphasis on finding the type of work that you love, and nurturing your career, but it's all bullshit. Your work will never fulfill you in the way you've probably been led to believe. So do something that you find interesting, that will be in demand, and that you could do all day long, but that doesn't require the kind of investment to create some "professional" persona simply to feed all these machines of bureaucracy that planners are slaves to.

    I know it's all fairly blunt and probably not at all the kind of input you were looking for, but as I reply to more and more of these "seeking-advice" threads I tend to get more blunt with it. In any case, good luck, and I hope you get where you need to be, but please don't assign yourself--your life--to the idea of being a planner. Planning is just a job, just another white-collar, desk-jockeying position, not a calling.
    Well, while you're calling everything bullshit, I'm going to have to call bullshit on this post. I agree that getting a Master's Degree is not everything, but sometimes I feel if I had one, it would give me that extra boost to finally land a full-time position (since apparently a bachelor's and 4.5 years seasonal internship experience isn't enough for a planning job...especially in this economy). However, a Master's is very costly, and I've heard from people saying that they didn't get that much out of it as you would with actual on-the-job internships/experience. So, that's why I'm in no hurry to do a Masters. And I would only advise this person to do it if they find they really like the work and it is compatible with their skills and passions.

    However, the parts of your posts I find objectionable are your statements that planning is not a calling, that it's just another white collar desk job, and that finding work that you love and nurturing your career is all "bullshit". It sounds like you may be in a position you are very unhappy with and you don't enjoy your work. But that's not the case for everyone in this field. I find the work in this field to be very satisfying, fullfilling, and rewarding. Much more than any other job I had. It combines many different things I love and that I'm interested in (maps, research, writing, etc.) and I take pride in the work I have done for people in the community I worked for. Mabye you don't...so maybe this career isn't for you.

    That's why I think the best solution for anyone in this field is to definitely talk face-to-face with planners, see what the work is like, and maybe do a volunteer internship for a month or two before diving in to a Master's program. For some people, yes it's just another job, and for those people, I would strongly advise not going into this field if you think that way. But if you really like the work and are passionate about it (which, believe it or not, some people are!), I would definitely pursue it, but know that you will have to be very competitive and have all the skills and personal traits necessary to land a job and succeed in this field.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  7. #7
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    I'm going to side with Chocolate on this one to a degree. Illinois, you bring a bunch of great experience from your internships, but there is still a big divide between the experiences earned from planning internships and full time planning work Planning for the most part IS a desk job, checkered with varying degrees of public involvement and site visits. It's not a complaint, though. Too many of us are trying to mold this profession into something different or even bigger. No one person can do it all.

    As for me, the very rough experiences I encountered this past year at my last planning job has led me to seriously consider a different profession, related or not. I am fortunate to still be earning interviews, but they have come at a price. I have a few scars and want to work in a field where hard work is appreciated and rewarded, irrespective of a recession which I did not cause. In some ways I view my unemployment as an annoyance that is keeping me from saving, investing, and creating a life for myself. It will happen, but probably not overnight and probably not through planning. We planners need to look at planning from the other end of the telescope for once and understand that it is a rewarding but very limited and specialized profession.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    Well, while you're calling everything bullshit, I'm going to have to call bullshit on this post. I agree that getting a Master's Degree is not everything, but sometimes I feel if I had one, it would give me that extra boost to finally land a full-time position (since apparently a bachelor's and 4.5 years seasonal internship experience isn't enough for a planning job...especially in this economy). However, a Master's is very costly, and I've heard from people saying that they didn't get that much out of it as you would with actual on-the-job internships/experience. So, that's why I'm in no hurry to do a Masters. And I would only advise this person to do it if they find they really like the work and it is compatible with their skills and passions.

    However, the parts of your posts I find objectionable are your statements that planning is not a calling, that it's just another white collar desk job, and that finding work that you love and nurturing your career is all "bullshit". It sounds like you may be in a position you are very unhappy with and you don't enjoy your work. But that's not the case for everyone in this field. I find the work in this field to be very satisfying, fullfilling, and rewarding. Much more than any other job I had. It combines many different things I love and that I'm interested in (maps, research, writing, etc.) and I take pride in the work I have done for people in the community I worked for. Mabye you don't...so maybe this career isn't for you.

    That's why I think the best solution for anyone in this field is to definitely talk face-to-face with planners, see what the work is like, and maybe do a volunteer internship for a month or two before diving in to a Master's program. For some people, yes it's just another job, and for those people, I would strongly advise not going into this field if you think that way. But if you really like the work and are passionate about it (which, believe it or not, some people are!), I would definitely pursue it, but know that you will have to be very competitive and have all the skills and personal traits necessary to land a job and succeed in this field.
    So the guy with 4.5 years of seasonal internships disagrees with my statement that planning is not a calling. That says it all. I think if I was holding onto the hope of getting a full time planning job that long I would have convinced myself that it was a calling, too.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    So the guy with 4.5 years of seasonal internships disagrees with my statement that planning is not a calling. That says it all. I think if I was holding onto the hope of getting a full time planning job that long I would have convinced myself that it was a calling, too.
    Well, keep in mind we are in the worst economic climate of the past 70 years...and that's not just for planners. I know people that feel called to teach that are having to find work doing something else for right now because they can't find work in their field. Also, those internships were all throughout undergrad, starting since I graduated high school. So, in reality, I haven't been holding out hope for that long. It's been less than a year since I graduated college.

    As for nrschmid and the belief that I don't know anything because I have only been an intern...I did a lot more than usual intern work, and was the lead on a lot of projects, and I also know a lot of people that have been in the field awhile and are still very passionate about this field, and was fortunate to work in a place with great staff and where the work entailed much more than just plan-review and code updates. True, it is mostly a desk job with some field work thrown in...that is if you have a glass half-empty mentality and are only looking at the tasks you do and not the content of your work or the community you work for.

    I understand that planning is a very specialized field and not for everyone, but I don't understand the attack on people who have these specialties and are passionate about their career and their work. As for your work not being appreciated as much or not getting the credit or whatever, sorry, but that's planning, especially public sector planning. I knew that going in, and it takes someone who doesn't care if their work is appreciated or if they get the credit or not to be the right person for that position.
    Last edited by illinoisplanner; 20 Feb 2011 at 9:27 PM.
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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    I think anyone can get an internship in planning if you network correctly. Send out some resumes to the types of places you want to intern at. Make some polite followup emails and see if anyone gets back to you. If so, see if they will meet with you for informational interviews. Politely ask them to keep you in mind for future internships and to pass your resume around if they wish.

    Its all about being interesting when you get to finally talk to someone, seeming useful, and not presuming that anyone owes you a job. At the same time, it might help to take a class or two in planning. Finally, if you don't need to get paid it helps.

    I know there's a lot of gloomy advice out there, and not everyone will land the work they want by networking, but you owe it to yourself to try.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Illinois I never said you don't have important experience. I said the experience you earn from interning is still different from full time planning experience. THAT difference is not JUST actual skills, but the difference in attitudes / respect from your colleagues and supervisors. No matter how much work you have done as an intern, as long as you have that title, the prevailing attitude is an apprentice. Once you cross that threshold into an entry-level you are now grooming yourself for the actual ascent up the corporate ladder. You are viewed very differently by the rest of the office, even if just subconsciously.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 21 Feb 2011 at 1:52 AM.
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post

    I understand that planning is a very specialized field and not for everyone, but I don't understand the attack on people who have these specialties and are passionate about their career and their work. As for your work not being appreciated as much or not getting the credit or whatever, sorry, but that's planning, especially public sector planning. I knew that going in, and it takes someone who doesn't care if their work is appreciated or if they get the credit or not to be the right person for that position.
    I was commenting on the fact that relatively inexperienced people out of college should not invest so much time and money and life into getting masters degrees to merely find out if they'd like something. And then, that oftentimes people get it into their head that a certain profession is the only thing for them, and treat it as if it's a calling. I think they do this to impress it upon themselves and others of their commitment so that they can get a leg up on the competition. And every career-centric advice out there encourages this. But the reality is that we will all switch careers many times throughout our lifetimes, and that the important things in life are not products of our careers, but products of human relationships. Planning is just a job, and if you expect it to fulfill you and make your dreams come true (thus, worthy of such heavy investment) you're misleading yourself.

    Also, I did not mean to discount your internship experience. But the thing is, an intern can get in, do one thing, and then get out. That brief snapshot of satisfyingly neat intermittent experience does not adequately represent the dichotomy of the banal agony of this bureaucratic profession. As a temporary employee, you never stick around long enough to experience failure and the surprisingly underwhelming successes. You also never stick around long enough to become substantially embedded in the politicization of what you do, or to fully experience how little control you have. The smaller projects you manage, the more control you exercise, because the stakes are so low. Once you start managing larger projects, then you see the futility and then maybe you can say something about whether you believe there is room enough for you to make a difference. Because you're nothing in the face of that one idiot boss, or that one idiot council-member, or that one idiot client. But it's not just one, they're everywhere, and strangely, most of them clog the largest, most important organizations. It does not get smarter the higher up you go. Add all that up to represent the machines of bureaucracy and you begin to understand the overwhelming inertia of the system. It does not change unless it's the change it wants. You are a tool. If you don't see that now, you'll see it once you get into a long-term planning position, especially if it's in the public sector. So the only way you can survive and thrive is to just do the work, get paid, and go home. If you make it out to be anything more than that, then you're in for a world of hurt and burnout. Believe me, the less you have invested, the easier it is to not go mad. Of course, if your personality is such that that's not a risk (i.e. you don't have high standards and meaningful ideals), then it precludes it from being a calling in the first place. Which actually just proves that you're deluding yourself into believing it is in order to feel like you're important. You may not understand any of this because you're just not there yet. But I think any seasoned planner knows exactly what the I'm talking about, and while they may not agree with the weight of my opinions, they will certainly agree with the overall point.

    And just to set the record straight: My job is not the ideal situation for me, but it's not horrible either. I have much more opportunity than most, and I have very good prospects on the horizon and make a good wage. So don't think these are just the ravings of a burned-out planner. I say these things in complete seriousness, with no desire to demonize the profession or air my grievances. I'm simply voicing my observations.
    Last edited by chocolatechip; 21 Feb 2011 at 2:37 AM.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    ... Planning is just a job, and if you expect it to fulfill you and make your dreams come true (thus, worthy of such heavy investment) you're misleading yourself.

    Also, I did not mean to discount your internship experience. But the thing is, an intern can get in, do one thing, and then get out. That brief snapshot of satisfyingly neat intermittent experience does not adequately represent the dichotomy of the banal agony of this bureaucratic profession...

    ...But I think any seasoned planner knows exactly what the I'm talking about, and while they may not agree with the weight of my opinions, they will certainly agree with the overall point.

    ... And just to set the record straight: My job is not the ideal situation for me, but it's not horrible either. I have much more opportunity than most, and I have very good prospects on the horizon and make a good wage. So don't think these are just the ravings of a burned-out planner. I say these things in complete seriousness, with no desire to demonize the profession or air my grievances. I'm simply voicing my observations.
    Blah blah blah blah blah. chocolatechip, why exactly are you still here? What compels you to participate in a planning forum when you are so openly disdainful of (and/or jaded by) the work planners do? If I recall correctly, you are spouting the same shit you did when you first started posting here a couple years ago, only back then the profession was so mind-numbingly tedious and disappointing you couldn't get out fast enough. Yet, here you remain, apparently still a planner, cynically accepting "a good wage" for a profession of "banal agony" in which nothing is ever truly accomplished. Why?

    I understand (I think) the idea of presenting a realistic view of planning to newcomers and encouraging them to take off their rose-colored lenses every once in a while. However, you do so in such a sweeping manner that it paints the entire profession in a negative light. People new to the website or even casual visitors may come here to learn more about the profession, only to leave thinking that planners are just more "overpaid" public sector (or publicly subsidized at least) employees that accomplish nothing of importance - because they heard it straight from the source. Not only that, your over the top rhetoric is demoralizing to those of us who are still interested in giving a shit about the work we do.

    Perhaps you should start qualifying your rants a little better. You are still a young man with but a few years experience in what seems to be a very narrow slice of the planning profession in one narrow geographical area of the United States. You speak as if you carry the gravitas of a seasoned professional, but you don't, because a professional would not attempt to throw his entire profession under the bus based on his own sour experiences. Your diction suggests that everything you say is a done deal, that no full-time planner has ever had a satisfying day of work in his/her life, and that your few years as a full time employee render your experiences so much more realistic than that of folks like illinoisplanner. Yet when one really considers what you're saying, you don't sound authoritative. Rather, I imagine that there's a degree of self-fulfilling prophecy in your attitude that none of the work you are doing is accomplishing anything of any importance.

    To the OP - I entered the planning field (without a planning degree) as an intern at a private consulting firm. This led to two years of satisfying, substantive work that I can trace back to legitimate on the ground accomplishments. My internship led to a couple of years of full-time employment at the same firm. I left not because of the "banal agony" of the profession but rather to more finely hone some of my planning skills and knowledge at grad school. I'm graduating soon and, even though job prospects are not great, I look forward to returning to work as a full-time planner. I realize that others have not been as fortunate as I have, but this is just to say that not everyone involved in planning is completely miserable.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Once you start managing larger projects, then you see the futility and then maybe you can say something about whether you believe there is room enough for you to make a difference. Because you're nothing in the face of that one idiot boss, or that one idiot council-member, or that one idiot client. But it's not just one, they're everywhere, and strangely, most of them clog the largest, most important organizations. It does not get smarter the higher up you go. Add all that up to represent the machines of bureaucracy and you begin to understand the overwhelming inertia of the system.

    The original point of this thread was to identify the negatives and positives of this field. I think a lot of the arguments against planning I am seeing are more arguments against government bodies, bureaucracy, life sucks, etc. The economy is almost as bad as it has ever been, people are being punished far too much for bad decisions made in the past, and everyone is really bitter about it.

    But that's everyone, not just planning. I can completely see the argument that stakeholders, developers, commissioners, and every other possible conflict of interest can make a planners job almost impossible, but what alternative reality are we asking for exactly? We can't just tell every person who wants to do planning to get a business degree instead. I think it would be pretty sad to see a world full of MBAs and no MUPs. There is a reason people get into this field, and I think the ones who are truly dedicated will excel the furthest.

    I realize that without spending substantial time in this field (or any other field for that matter) it's hard to offer the same insight, but you guys are bumming me out. If it is so horrible, what drew you into it in the first place? I am quite aware that planning is controversial, difficult, and requires a thick skin. Maybe the folks who are burned out should find another job and let us new guys figure it out the hard way.

    Or you could be right, maybe this field really is that awful and a couple years from now I'll be the director of Public Works
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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ9139 View post
    The original point of this thread was to identify the negatives and positives of this field)

    No it was not. It was clearly stated in the OP: to identify the chances of landing an internship or entry level position in the near future. As for the rest of it, an attempt was made to contextualize both the difficulty of finding a job soon, and a specific observation about the future economy in general: better to be a generalist than a very narrow specialist.

    HTH.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Apples and oranges. The point I was trying to illustrate is that while it can be detrimental to be overly idealistic about career prospects and chances, it can be just as detrimental to be overly critical. I graduated in May and have found 2 internships since. I don't know how competitive it was getting them, but I have had no gaps in my Resume since graduation. That is not ideal, as I have friends who graduated planning around '05 with entry level jobs available, but it's enough for me to continue to pursue the opportunity and things have been going along pretty smoothly.

    Not trying to start a thread war here, just playing devil's advocate. There's always two ways to look at something and I just wanted to offer a more positive perspective.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ9139 View post
    If it is so horrible, what drew you into it in the first place? I am quite aware that planning is controversial, difficult, and requires a thick skin. Maybe the folks who are burned out should find another job and let us new guys figure it out the hard way.

    Or you could be right, maybe this field really is that awful and a couple years from now I'll be the director of Public Works
    My father is an urban historian and took me on trips of various Chicago neighborhoods when I was a kid. I transferred into planning from architecture school. I learned in my early 20s that planning was not a sustainable profession AND no one in the field was working hard to stabilize the industry. Planners piggyback on a giant economic pendulum. I don't think that is going to change.

    Many of us make career decisions based on facts, our gut instinct, and risk (though not always in equal amounts). We can only look so far into the future (maybe a year or two at most) to get a somewhat accurate reading. Anything beyond that is speculation. The planning industry is very fluid, and if we want to grab onto that current we need to adapt and mold ourselves to continual change. What was acceptable for a job 10 years ago probably would not work today. 10 years down the road that may change, too.

    I count myself lucky that I lined my ducks in a row early on and prepared myself for terrible circumstances beyond my control. This is the second time in less than 18 months that I am unemployed, but I am hardly phased by it. Maybe I just read too many newspapers every day. It's just a bumpy ride for all of us and it WILL improve over time. I'm just not patient enough to wait that long as a planner. Fortunately, I have a job interview tomorrow with a high-end residential realtor whom I met through my network contacts. I'm sure I can draw plenty of bridges from planning to real estate
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  18. #18
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    That's pretty spooky nrschmid, I also grew up in Chicago, started school in Architecture and ended up in planning. Are you sure you're not me from the future?
    Hahaha I suppose a lot of people on cyburbia have a pretty similar story though.

    I certainly can't deny that this field is dependent on development (along with arch, civil engineering, construction management). If nothing else, I have always seen planning as a great starting point. If I can manage to find a stable planning job (hopefully not 500 miles from home but meh), spend a few years working on an administrative or information science related masters, I'd like to think I'll be in pretty good shape down the road (fingers crossed).
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Good Lord people are bitter! How do you think I feel? I have to plan in Detroit!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  20. #20
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Good Lord people are bitter! How do you think I feel? I have to plan in Detroit!
    Try being far away from the Red Wings and being stuck with teh Avalanche instead. I'll see your bitter and raise you a morose.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally posted by kalimotxo View post
    Blah blah blah blah blah. chocolatechip, why exactly are you still here? What compels you to participate in a planning forum when you are so openly disdainful of (and/or jaded by) the work planners do? If I recall correctly, you are spouting the same shit you did when you first started posting here a couple years ago, only back then the profession was so mind-numbingly tedious and disappointing you couldn't get out fast enough. Yet, here you remain, apparently still a planner, cynically accepting "a good wage" for a profession of "banal agony" in which nothing is ever truly accomplished. Why?

    I understand (I think) the idea of presenting a realistic view of planning to newcomers and encouraging them to take off their rose-colored lenses every once in a while. However, you do so in such a sweeping manner that it paints the entire profession in a negative light. People new to the website or even casual visitors may come here to learn more about the profession, only to leave thinking that planners are just more "overpaid" public sector (or publicly subsidized at least) employees that accomplish nothing of importance - because they heard it straight from the source. Not only that, your over the top rhetoric is demoralizing to those of us who are still interested in giving a shit about the work we do.

    Perhaps you should start qualifying your rants a little better. You are still a young man with but a few years experience in what seems to be a very narrow slice of the planning profession in one narrow geographical area of the United States. You speak as if you carry the gravitas of a seasoned professional, but you don't, because a professional would not attempt to throw his entire profession under the bus based on his own sour experiences. Your diction suggests that everything you say is a done deal, that no full-time planner has ever had a satisfying day of work in his/her life, and that your few years as a full time employee render your experiences so much more realistic than that of folks like illinoisplanner. Yet when one really considers what you're saying, you don't sound authoritative. Rather, I imagine that there's a degree of self-fulfilling prophecy in your attitude that none of the work you are doing is accomplishing anything of any importance.
    Despite my apparently sweeping statements, I'm not as pessimistic about things as you might imagine. I could have waxed a little dramatically there, but I still agree with the gist of what I said, even in light of honestly weighing your comments. You're right about my problem of self-fulfilling prophecy, though. It's something I contend with in life in general. It's one of my weaknesses.

    So why do I participate in this forum? Because it helps me to see things from others' perspective and to keep tabs on what's going on out there on "the front." But I also like to challenge those same perspectives and notions of others in what they expect to get out of this field. I want to see if there's anyone who sees things the same way I do, and if not, why not.

    One of the big changes I've made since joining and spouting that "shit" you referred to is in realizing that previously I had expected my career to fulfill me in ways that it never could. My disappointment and frustration with this poisoned my mind and negativity took over. Accepting this fact has improved my attitude and temperament toward this profession. So, no I don't agree that my last post was at all the kind of vitriol you make it out to be. It was reasonable, with a respectful deference. It was just very opinionated, and you simply disagree with it. But it's no reason to attack me or discount my interest in even being here. You are in effect saying "I don't understand what you are saying; it sounds negative and authoritative, and I don't agree with it. Please leave." Well, that's not a reasoned argument of disagreement. It's just bickering. With that said, I have a question for you: do you really think there is no substance to my sentiments above? If you think my comments scare away people from this profession, or are damaging to the profession in general, then you're presuming there is no truth to what I'm saying at all, and that the problem lies entirely with me and not the profession and the nature of our work.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    chocolatechip, it seems like your posts have gotten slightly better as the thread has worn on. I can understand your frustration and the feeling of disappointment because you had such high expectations. I've experienced a lot of frustration as well, but it is mostly been due to the economy.

    But kalimotxo was right to point out that you appeared to make very sweeping negative generalizations about the planning profession, as if everything you've experienced is the same as every other planner. (and I'm pleasantly surprised to find an unlikely ally in him in this thread, since we have had very heated discussions and disagreements about a variety of things in the past)

    chocolate, I think you and nrshcmid also don't entirely know me or my experiences or my relationships with my colleagues and the people in the community I worked for and are therefore making a lot of assumptions about my knowledge and experience. I actually worked for the same community my entire college career and was in constant contact with my supervisor and staying up-to-date on everything that was going on, even during the months I was not working there. I knew all the nitty-gritty details. I knew of the setbacks and even encountered a few myself. My colleagues respected me very much and treated me as one of them, not just "the intern". I participated in the office holiday parties and the banter, I served beer with them at community events, I spoke to the press on the town's behalf...the whole nine yards. Of course, all that didn't happen overnight...rather it built up over the time I was there. On the whole, though, yes, I did work for a very great place, that was pretty pro-planning, and had a very supportive and cooperative Board. But at the same time, this municipality couldn't keep me on full-time. Not because the people there were mean, not because I sucked as an employee, and not because the town is a failure...all of that couldn't be further from the truth. But because of the recession. And that's what I direct my bitterness at. Not at the profession.

    So, I think we bring varying perspectives, but it isn't necessarily that I'm young and I don't know what I'm talking about, while those of you that attained full-time jobs know everything and that your experiences and perspectives are similar to any other seasoned planner. From what I understand, most of us in this thread are all relatively young. Sure, some of you may have had full-time planning jobs for a few years now, but that doesn't mean that because I haven't attained a mere title, that I don't know what I'm talking about. Actually I do...I just didn't go in with such unrealistically high expectations. Rather our difference in perpsectives comes from what kinds of experiences we've had, our luck with having a good council or public to work with, our expectations going in, our attitudes, our circumstances with job changes, and so forth.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  23. #23
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ9139 View post
    The original point of this thread was to identify the negatives and positives of this field.
    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ9139 View post
    Apples and oranges. The point I was trying to illustrate is that while it can be detrimental to be overly idealistic about career prospects and chances, it can be just as detrimental to be overly critical..
    Nonetheless, the original request was on the chances of...well, we discussed this already.

    If we want to parse contributors' statements about the chances of getting what the OP requested without restating what the OP asked for, that's fine. No need to mischaracterize the request in the OP.

    When things aren't being built and lots of foreclosures waiting to happen, not much prospect for someone wanting an internship to satisfy curiosity. Let's keep it real for the OP without applying balm anywhere else, shall we?

  24. #24
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    dudes!

    Hey - I just posted a great entry level job in the job board - pay is low but the town is great to live in and it builds your resume, especially if you are interested in community development and/or historic preservation!

    Moderator note:
    Duplicate posts in two other threads deleted. Sorry...one post per topic.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I think ChocolateChip plays an important role here in 'keeping it real', so to speak. The dude is clearly a burnout but he speaks the truth.

    Look, if you are just out of school and have options besides planning, I would encourage you to pursue them. Why?

    1) The field is not growing. The profession's 'escalator' has broken, if you will. Senior level staff are not retiring, mid and entry level staff cannot move up, and new grads can't get in. We are now on year 3 (or 4?) of this. Like Nrschmid said, it'll get better eventually, but the question is how much of your life you want to pass you by in the mean time. I made big life decisions based around being able to work in this field, which I now question to some degree because...

    2) The work itself is not that cool. I had worked in the nonprofit sector at a community development. corporation prior to this job and making site visits was a routine affair, as in weekly. Planning, however, is a paper-shuffling, ass-in-the-seat desk job where you'll get outdoors on rare occasion at best. The municipal engineering folks get out a lot more than planning staff does, for what that's worth. The job is lawyer stress for social worker pay - and you can find yourself at the center of a political maelstrom time after time but with no power to improve your situation since you yourself are not an elected official. You will spend your days babysitting narcissistic personalities and poring over environmental review documentation rather than changing the world. Whatever romantic image you have in your head about the job, crumple it up and throw it away because the reality is something else. I know this is harsh but if someone had broken it down for me like this, I'd be grateful. Please bear in mind that all of this is based on my experience and that others may have had completely awesome experiences in planning that contrast with what I've just said. HTH

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