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Thread: Project manager at a due diligence firm

  1. #1
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    Project manager at a due diligence firm

    I graduated with a masters in Urban Planning, and hoped to land a planning job at a city in California. However, due to the economy, I ended up settling for a full-service environmental and engineering consulting firm (private) as an environmental consultant, "project manager." (btw- my boss was generous enough to give me a good title for a person with only ~2years of experience. Will the title benefit me in the future in getting hired for higher positions?)

    I wanted to ask whether the work I do: Property Condition Assessments, Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) , Phase II ESA, Transaction Screen Assessment (TSA), Seismic Risk Evaluations, and Geophysics,
    will help me to stay in the planning career route in the near future. My dream is to work at a public sector as a planner eventually, and I don't know if I should keep looking for beginner public planning jobs or stay with this company and gain more experience. Are these type of experience something that will be overlooked by city planners when hiring? Also, would this experience count towards the experience requirement for AICP test?

    Any help or advice would be much appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Just my $0.02, but it sounds like what you're doing isn't really planning. It's somewhat related, but I don't think APA would consider what you're doing now worthy of experience for AICP. You're collecting data and interpreting it, but not really affecting the built environment - if I understood your description correctly.

    It's also not wasted experience, since it's semi-related to planning (I work with Phase I/II ESAs all the time). However, if your goal is to work as a public sector planner, my advice would be to move on soon and get something more directly related. If you can, take anything you can get at a public agency, as public agencies can sometimes have a bias against private sector experience (not always). In the private sector, you might be able to move a bit more sideways (i.e., slightly above entry level).

    Don't wait too long - this isn't something you can transition out of very easily after 10 years of doing it.

    Again, just my $0.02, your mileage may vary, content void in the continental US, etc. etc.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I would hope that working for an EIS firm doing environment due dili counts as planning for AICP purposes. Heck, isn't there a new AICP CEP credential? What do they think most environmental planners do? They prepare EISs.

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    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    I would hope that working for an EIS firm doing environment due dili counts as planning for AICP purposes. Heck, isn't there a new AICP CEP credential? What do they think most environmental planners do? They prepare EISs.
    ESA isn't the same as EIS.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Contact AICP and find out if you are unsure. No sense in waiting until you are applying for the exam.
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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by yk2366 View post

    Are these type of experience something that will be overlooked by city planners when hiring? Also, would this experience count towards the experience requirement for AICP test?
    As above, you should call. But it sounds kinda plannery and you are working, so it will be fine in your next interview. By the next job after that, everyone in HR will have forgotten the Great Recession and you'll be fine.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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    thanks so much for all your responses. I'll definitely call AICP and ask. It's been tough even finding a job out here that I was very ecstatic I even got the offer, even though it wasn't totally "environmental planning" related. I think I just hoped that future employers would be more generous in counting this as an experience. Prior to this, I worked as a real estate market forecaster for a year bc I also couldn't find a job upon graduation, and decided to get a job that was most closely related to planning at the time. But I quit this job after realizing it was again too far detached from the planning route I wanted to take.

    At this point, I feel discouraged and stressed out again that I would have to be on the job hunt... AGAIN. I don't mind the type of work I do and I intended to stay here at least a year or two, but I"m just scared that I will no longer be able to "go back" or be a running candidate for planning jobs in the future.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by yk2366 View post

    At this point, I feel discouraged and stressed out again that I would have to be on the job hunt... AGAIN.
    You and 65% of the American work force.
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    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by yk2366 View post
    ...Prior to this, I worked as a real estate market forecaster for a year bc I also couldn't find a job upon graduation, and decided to get a job that was most closely related to planning at the time...
    I'm not sure what you did as a "real estate market forecaster", but as market analysi is s abig part of my work, I would think it is very much a planning job. I would consider you due diligence work part of planning as well. The problem I see is that both jobs expose you to a single element of planning. Does you current employer do more? Could they? You can always talk with them to let them know you want to expose yourself to a wider field of planning work. If they do it inhouse they may be willing to let you expand your role. Sometimes, working for a consultant, there may also be the opportunity to expand what they do. They may have clients ask them about planning work, and your company may agree to try taking on new kinds of projects. That is especially true in this economy.
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    All I can say is that if doing environmental assessment work and/or NEPA work doesn't constitute planning in the eyes of AICP, I would have an issue with that. Do let us know what you hear back from the AICP guys. If they say no, I think I'm going to complain. I don't do that type of work, but regard it as critical to the project planning mission.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    All I can say is that if doing environmental assessment work and/or NEPA work doesn't constitute planning in the eyes of AICP, I would have an issue with that. Do let us know what you hear back from the AICP guys. If they say no, I think I'm going to complain. I don't do that type of work, but regard it as critical to the project planning mission.

    Again, he's not doing NEPA. He's doing Phase I/II ESAs - which means surveying a site and finding areas of potential soil contamination, underground storage tanks, above ground storage tanks, etc., in addition to similar work for geotechnical/seismic hazards.

    Nothing wrong with what he's currently doing, but it has absolutely nothing to do with NEPA (except that NEPA practitioners rely on the reports he prepares in evaluating impacts due to geotechnical/contaminated soils, etc.).

    If he were doing NEPA work, I would agree with you, but he's not.

    Edit: Also, I don't disagree with the advice of others - call the APA/AICP. I'd also recommend taking a look at the application for taking the test, and consider whether you could answer those questions with your current position.
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