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Thread: What after a master's degree in planning and a job?

  1. #1
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    What after a master's degree in planning and a job?

    I have a master's degree and have been working for a local governmnet for more than two years now. I am restless now...it feels like a standstill...nothing further. I dont want to be set as a municipal planner for the rest of my life.
    Can anyone think of any avenues someone in my position can explore?
    Does anyone know of any fellow urban planners who have jumped to degrees such as MBA or Law or something?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    To be honest, if you don't feel content or challenged with where you're working, it's probably time to find a new place to work. You don't necessarily need to change professions but just find a place that better suits your style. It sounds like this is your first real planning job. When looking for another place to work, you'll have a better idea of what you want in your place of employment.

    As for MBAs and law, those degrees are over saturated at the moment to say the least. They're also expensive and where you go to school really matters with them.

  3. #3
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    If you have a job in this climate, keep it. With that said, I know of one planner who jumped ship and went to the world of Lawyering.... TO care to comment?
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    If you have a job in this climate, keep it.
    Agreed. Why are you complaining?!?!?!


    Quote Originally posted by rjain5 View post
    I dont want to be set as a municipal planner for the rest of my life. ..Can anyone think of any avenues someone in my position can explore?
    Not without knowing you.

    However if you are thinking of Law, I know a lot already.

    Our country is past the time, IMHO, where job-hopping is a luxury. The new normal is simply to have a job. You should hope your position isn't downsized and you are forced to tend bar for a few years.

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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    To be honest, if you don't feel content or challenged with where you're working, it's probably time to find a new place to work. You don't necessarily need to change professions but just find a place that better suits your style. It sounds like this is your first real planning job. When looking for another place to work, you'll have a better idea of what you want in your place of employment.

    As for MBAs and law, those degrees are over saturated at the moment to say the least. They're also expensive and where you go to school really matters with them.
    I agree that working for some time gives me an idea of what I want to do in my next job. But when I apply for those positions, which are admittedly few and far, I am not qualified enough. From what I see on the various employment sites, companies are looking for specialised skills such as GIS or Sustainabilty or Transportation.

    I'll continue searching I guess

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    I am not complaining. I know I am lucky enough to have a job which is not even boring. I am only trying to figure out what next. I am trying to see if there is something I should be doing, not just sitting on my ass and getting fat!
    There are people out there doing great things and that doesnt happen by sticking to my job and being happy not tending bar!

    I am not sure I am into 'Lawyering' either... it was just a thought...all that crazy language gives me migraines!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Follow your passion. If you have none...so sad.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian cng's avatar
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    You may want to narrow down just what is making you restless. Is it the field of planning, or is it more the municipality that you're working for... or both? Or, has work simply become too routine? Out of 240 work days in a year, I would guess that 120 of these days are pretty mundane. Another 80 days are filled with something interesting... and then there may be 40 days out of the year that are just great... days when I would have a public outreach meeting, or a really good meeting with a developer, or a rewarding completion of a long-term assignment. Compared to other professions that may be even more repetitive and routine, I consider myself grateful for my responsibilities.

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    Cyburbian
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    ............

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    thats a great suggestion CNG.....thank you. Maybe I'll feel less restless after I figure out its source.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    This is the story of my professional life. I get restless easily. The job I now have has been the longest employment tenure to date at 6 years. But I just HAVE to move on (which I am) and the new opportunity in front of me is actually a completely lateral move as far as income. But its NEW and INTERESTING and, career-wise, a better move as far as charting a longer trajectory in an area of planning I am interested in.

    A lot of people will say to stick with a job if you even have one and there is a lot of validity to that point of view. Its one I wish I was better at - being more content with what I have so I can just hunker down and muscle through the lean years of our economy. But when one is asked to be in an uninspiring environment 40 hours a week with no real room for advancement doing work that is not very motivating, its hard (for me anyway) to not think about more engaging alternatives. I certainly wouldn't have made the move I am about to by quitting my job and then trying to find a new one, so I see little to no harm in putting your feelers out there while you are employed, just to see what possibilities exist (apply to some interesting looking positions, take some colleagues in different areas of planning and gently inquire about work, if they anticipate hiring, etc.). Be low key, but poke around. What's the worst that could happen?

    As for the additional schooling thing, that's a tough call. I have two Masters degrees, so I did it. But one thing I will say is that any field - business, law, etc. - is that it will almost certainly be less interesting, romantic and exciting once you get into the nitty gritty. That is a feature of life. Stuff is hard and often there is a lot of unpleasantry before one gets to a level of responsibility or high pay, even though it sounded so great and endlessly engaging in the abstract. That's just my opinion, but something to think about.

    I think cng's suggestion is the most productive. Even if you seek a change in employment as opposed to going back to school, the process will better guide toward an area that is perhaps more personally gratifying and gets at whatever it is that is making you feel unsatisfied. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be more engaged in your work!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I am in somwhat of a similar position, but have held a couple different jobs for about 5 years. If I did cng's exercise, it's more like 220 days that are banal and 10-20 that are somewhat interesting, and its been made clear to me that this will be the direction of my job description and my department into the near future, plus I believe the area of planning I am in now is not the right fit. So tending bar actually sounds attractive at this point ...

    In my case, I did a fair bit of career exploration on my own - looking into both opportunities in and near the planning field and also right fit for my personality and aptitudes, and discovered a couple of general directions in which I wanted to go. It helped that my last job gave some latitude and I was able to take on responsibilities and seek grants in two of the areas of special interest (revitalization and bike/ped/active living) along with gaining supervisory experience thru an internship program. I do have to admit I also went back to school for an online certificate and it has helped me get my foot in the door. Other avenues I haven't explored but thought about include volunteering for a non-profit that does what I want, and joining toastmasters to improve my public speaking skills. So while you are lucky to have a job, it doesn't hurt to explore on a number or levels. I have been searching for about a year with mixed results, in part because I am trying to transition to a new area, but have been finalist for a couple great jobs and have had an offer I probably should've taken in retrospect but declined for a number of issues including family.

    Some of the career literature will tell you about ways to transition careers (not sure at 2 years out one can call it a transition) without getting a whole new degree. Interested in non-profit work? There are avenues into this without going back to school full-time for a degree in non-pofit management, for example. I'd be happy to share any of these resources. This early in your career, I think following your professional passion can be rewarding and there's no reason not to do it.
    Last edited by docwatson; 25 Apr 2011 at 3:00 PM.

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    thanks for the encouraging write up

    docwatson and wahday, thank you very much for understanding my predicamnet. As I said, I am not complaining but getting feelers. If I combine it with cng's suggestion, I may be on to something. If I can figure out my reason for restlessness, and research and find out ways of dealing with it...either through a different job or working in a different field, I think I should be able to cure it.

    Wahday, I too get restless very easily. I have a low boredom factor but I dont always know how to deal with it. And yes, everything sounds rosy in the beigining and becomes mundane once you get the hang of it!

    Thank you for the great advice. I shall act on it and keep you all up-to-date.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    One can be thankful to have a job, and still not enjoy it. I'm thankful I don't have a terminal disease, but that didn't stop me from being upset when I had to have emergency surgery a few months ago.

    That aside, I think you got good advice here. No need to compound it. I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone. I have seen plenty of posts here, heard from many colleagues, etc, that they are looking into different opportunities. I'm guilty myself. From my own experience, I've followed the advice I've seen here. I thought hard about what things I do enjoy and which I don't. I realized I still enjoy planning, just wish I had more time for either research or long-range planning. The next logical step is to figure out what careers might afford me those opportunities. So I'm thinking of trying out campus planning or regional planning. Those jobs haven't availed themselves yet but in the interim I've talked to people I know in those fields and I feel better having a goal. I'm still thankful for my job, but if one of those opportunities opens up, I'll seriously consider them.
    Good luck.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    If you have a job in this climate, keep it. With that said, I know of one planner who jumped ship and went to the world of Lawyering.... TO care to comment?
    I have spent the last 4 years as a municipal planner for a small-ish bedroom community of Austin, but starting this fall will be attending law school. Every career field - especially ones with general professional degrees such as law and business - is oversaturated now. In law, I am told this is especially true if you're looking to land a large, corporate firm job in New York, Chicago, DC, or California. If you do decide to go to law school, take at least 3 months of hour + per day to study for the LSAT, since your score will most likely determine either where you can get in or how much money you will have to pay (or not pay) in tuition. I ultimately decided to attend a less-prestigious school in a smaller, less-saturated market, since I want a smaller, land use and real estate development practice, who in turn offered me a full tuition scholarship. This doesn't mean I'll be able to find a job easily when I graduate, and most likely I won't be earning much more (if any) money than I am currently, but this is the direction I would like my career to go based on my experiences in planning. Don't follow money (or debt, either), prestige, or whatnot - follow your interests and passions.

  16. #16
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    I agree with you both, texanokie and the pink planner. I am still putting out feelers and trying to gauge possible outcomes.
    I know I'll have to input huge anount of time to study for GMAT or LSAT or something similar. That is another reason I am talking to people. I dont want to do that without knowing the benefit of it. My best friend just jumped ship to Law too. She got into a DC university and they offered her partial funding. But she is ready to follow her passion at the risk of debts. I am however a little more money minded and too fond of my creature comfirts :P

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