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Thread: Recent college grad: urban planning exposure?

  1. #1
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    Recent college grad: urban planning exposure?

    Hello everyone, this is my first post!

    I just graduated from college with a degree in Sociology. I want to get a masters in urban planning eventually, but I want to work for at least a year to save up some money, and also take the (new) GRE.

    Like most people, I am having a tough time finding a planning related job. I'm in New Jersey, but I'm willing to commute to NYC or relocate if necessary. I think I'm finding it especially difficult because I didn't major in planning in college as it wasn't offered.

    I am currently interning (unpaid) at an engineering company learning ArcGIS and AutoCAD. However, it's pretty unstructured and I feel as though I'm not learning a great deal about either and am often given office work as opposed to being given time to work on learning GIS. Would I be better off getting a paid job that isn't planning related and taking a GIS and/or AutoCAD class at Rutgers or another nearby college in the fall? Or should I just stick it out here and see if I can master the two programs?

    Also, does anyone have advice on finding a planning job even though I wasn't a planning major? The closest thing I have to urban planning experience was working in Atlanta during college doing some research on low income housing for the Atlanta Housing Association of Neighborhood-based Developers (AHAND). I'm interested in housing and transportation as of now.

  2. #2
    Member
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    La Crosse, WI
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    I am kind of in the same boat as you too. I just graduated from undergrad with a public administration major and am working for at least a year before grad school. Right now I'm working for a city planning department as a paid intern, but I did work there unpaid for nearly 6 months before being offered pay. That's an idea you may want to explore. I as wondering the same thing regarding if it was better to work for a planning related job and earn less money or just get as much money as possible and then go to grad school? Would the planning experience in between truly help you get an assistantship or better internship during grad school?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Montreal/Quebec/Canada
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    There are many ways to impress an admission committee but not that many to make money.

    The department will look for people with potential. People that will graduate and make the program look good. They also expect people to know very little about the field, hence why most programs have an "intro to planning" core class.

    In my opinion, it would be best to find a job with good pay and interesting / challenging responsibilities. A job that will lead to some good recommendation letters and a committee convinced that no matter the field, they got some one with ambition and the talent to produce.

    You can always volunteer at community organisations, local governments, attend hearings and so on. Not that time consuming, but shows that you care. Hell volunteer at habitat for humanity or a shelter. No doubt that will help you to read between the lines when developers say they need help "to mitigate unwanted activities to increase the commercial viability of an area."

    If you have a particular interest like in housing, volunteering somewhere might enable you to work get some experience in that subfield. Something that would be hard to achieve if you look for a job.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ssc's avatar
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    I'll chime in here. I always recommend that prospective grad students get some work experience in before heading off for their masters, especially since I wish someone had given me that advice way back when...

    That being said, given your interest in housing and transportation, I wouldn't think AutoCad is a critical skill so you may want to find something that more closely aligns with your areas of interest, especially if you are not being paid. If you are able to volunteer, have you circulated your resume to municipal planning offices and local planning-related non-profits? Budget cuts mean that municipal planning offices are often overworked and I would imagine that many would be more than happy for the assistance of a bright, eager volunteer intern to take on a project or two. (I know our small city is!)

  5. #5
    If a program has a 70% admission rate, does that mean it's a good program?

    Also, does 70% mean it's a pretty easy program to get into?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally posted by ssc View post
    I'll chime in here. I always recommend that prospective grad students get some work experience in before heading off for their masters, especially since I wish someone had given me that advice way back when...

    That being said, given your interest in housing and transportation, I wouldn't think AutoCad is a critical skill so you may want to find something that more closely aligns with your areas of interest, especially if you are not being paid. If you are able to volunteer, have you circulated your resume to municipal planning offices and local planning-related non-profits? Budget cuts mean that municipal planning offices are often overworked and I would imagine that many would be more than happy for the assistance of a bright, eager volunteer intern to take on a project or two. (I know our small city is!)
    I was under the impression that the municipal planning offices of small towns wouldn't need an intern, but I guess I'm wrong! I've circulated my resume to some local nonprofit planning organizations though.

    Is there any kind of program I should be looking to master if I'm interested in housing and transportation?

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