I have been looking for a planning job for about a year now. I graduated from a very good planning school in 2010. Despite having a great internship at a city redevelopment agency, I have had extreme difficulty even finding planning jobs to which I can apply. Basically, the public agencies are not hiring rookie planning grads, and the private planning firms seem to be looking for highly experienced consultants with 5-10+ years in the field. I want so much to get more experience in planning. I was even offered a position to create and manage a transportation project for a private community development and neighborhood planning business. However, the position was unpaid for a year, until I could carve out my own paid position and wait for the financial returns of a successful project (in this case, a very exciting transportation hub and bike station project, my dream). Unfortunately, I could not accept the position because my payments for $100,000 worth of school loans are going to kick in sometime in July. I already used up my forbearance this year.
I have been interviewing at educational non-profits to develop math and science programs and curriculum for students in underserved communities. I want to have a chance at learning project management so that someday I can work for a planning firm at a project manager. I want to get some feedback from experienced planners to find out if working for a successful non-profit could ever help me to transition into a paid planning position, when the weather for planning jobs improves. Please offer any advice for working at a non-planning career and later transferring skills to a real planning career. I think non-profits often use collaborative planning strategies to create programs beneficial to neighborhoods and regions. I would appreciate any advice about what specific transferrable skills I can develop until the job market for planning expands.
I don't know if anybody has experience with GIS on this thread, but I am also planning on getting my certificate from USC in GIS. I've been working on social and disaster preparedness projects with GIS for an internship, but wonder if a GIS certificate would help me to get a planning job in the future.
Thanks very much!