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Thread: Urban planning student questions

  1. #1
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    Urban planning student questions

    Hello,

    My name is Ross Kinkade. Im currently a Freshman (technically a sophmore- graduate high school early) going to Waubonsee Community College to prepare for transfering to UIC's Bachelors in Urban and Public Affairs. I have had a unpaid internship on the Historical Preservation Commission in my town, and I am actively looking for others.

    The main reason I got interested in the field was because of my interest with how cities work and are designed. I am also interested in preparing them for the future (not neccesarially Smart Growth and New Urbanism). I also have more of an international focus in the field- my goal is to work out side of the USA ( with my main focus more on developing countries, not throwing out developed countries entirely). I also have interest in Architecture, International Affairs and Politics.

    I have a couple questions that I need some answers too:

    1) What are the job prospects and requirements to work internationally? Is there enough demand for planners abroad and what type of education do I need?

    2) Should I dual major in a related field/Planning? I have been thinking about minoring in International Affairs at UIC. Maybe get some GIS certification? What are things to learn and gain to increase my selling potential as a planner?

    3) Where are there internships in the field? What are places to look for them?

    Any other advice and direction is appreciated.

    I'm sure I have more questions but these are all for now.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I'll see if I can answer a few of these.

    The job prospects abroad aren't the best at the moment due to the economy being down globally but things could be quite different when you graduate. There are a couple things that can really increase your chances of getting a job abroad though. The first would be knowing the language in the area of the world you want to work in. The second would be to get some international work experience be it through an internship, Peace Corp type stuff, or maybe even a study abroad program. A lot of places won't hire you unless you have international work experience but you need that experience to get a job internationally... Knowing an in-demand foreign language can get you over that hump though.

    So education wise, picking up a foreign language in school would be beneficial on top of anything else you get. An international affairs bachelors would probably be fine though but as you mentioned, a GIS certificate wouldn't be a bad idea for another hard skill. You'll probably need to get a masters to supplement whatever bachelors you get though, but I can see that going two ways. You could get a masters in planning or you could go the international development route. As I understand, both degrees essentially accomplish the same thing but the theory going into them is different. I think planning would probably give you a wider knowledge base since international development overlaps international affairs much more than planning does.
    Last edited by Blide; 29 Nov 2011 at 11:22 AM.

  3. #3
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    It is too broad to say, "your goal is to work outside of the USA." Every country is different. If you could be more specific on what country you are interested in, people could give you more helpful advice.

    If you are not going to a country using English as an official and working language, the most crucial thing to secure a job is to master their local language. I'd like to suggest you to fully develop your design skills, since the knowledge on planning policy in the US could not be applied on other countires. just my 2 cents.

  4. #4
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    As for the internship, I think the international planning company would have those opportunities to intern in their international offices. But those programs would be quite selective. You also could ask your professors if they have those kind of opportunities. They might know some professors or alumni in planning field in other countries.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RossKinkade View post
    I have a couple questions that I need some answers too:

    1) What are the job prospects and requirements to work internationally? Is there enough demand for planners abroad and what type of education do I need?

    2) Should I dual major in a related field/Planning? I have been thinking about minoring in International Affairs at UIC. Maybe get some GIS certification? What are things to learn and gain to increase my selling potential as a planner?

    3) Where are there internships in the field? What are places to look for them?

    Any other advice and direction is appreciated.

    I'm sure I have more questions but these are all for now.
    You are welcome.

    I lived for several years in Europe as an adult. You will find typical public school will leave you unprepared for better-educated societies than ours (EUR, Anglo-Saxon countries, some of Asia). You will want to get your English down, your social skills up (eschew gamers and skaters in general), get out in front of your public speaking, learn to problem-solve. Peace Corps will help a lot - all my friends who did Peace Corps are very competent and well adjusted. Two or three languages that you can scrape by in will help immensely. Playing an international sport like soccer will help. Skill with hand tools helps a lot. Focus on these so you can cope in other societies and not look like an American (and it helps in ours too).

    Now, as far as prospects for planning employment in the coming decade: dim. Dim here and in your vague place abroad, unless somehow the world wrests control back from the thieves in Finance. If we don't, you'll want to do something in Finance because they'll continue to steal everyone's money and there won't be much left to employ people in other sectors except Service. But having skills that allow you to move around abroad will give you a big advantage. So that means if you want to do a dual major, do it in something that gives you a chance to work in a lower-income world - something that is transferable, useful across scales, and that people need to get by. That is: not a luxury good like hotel management, unless you feel you want to service the rich.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally posted by Cherry View post
    It is too broad to say, "your goal is to work outside of the USA." Every country is different. If you could be more specific on what country you are interested in, people could give you more helpful advice.

    If you are not going to a country using English as an official and working language, the most crucial thing to secure a job is to master their local language. I'd like to suggest you to fully develop your design skills, since the knowledge on planning policy in the US could not be applied on other countires. just my 2 cents.
    I am currently learning Spanish in college (its a UIC requirement) . My goal is to become bilingual in Spanish and maybe pick up another language in the future (Portuguese, Chinese, etc.).

    In regards of countries- My focus is Latin America (I've been there before and I'm learning Spanish), I'm also drawn there because it seems to me theat Latin America is still developing as a whole (maybe with the exception of Brazil, but still).

    I regards of Design skills are you talking about Urban Design and Landscape Architecture? Or more of Technical Drawing / CAD skills?


    I lived for several years in Europe as an adult. You will find typical public school will leave you unprepared for better-educated societies than ours (EUR, Anglo-Saxon countries, some of Asia). You will want to get your English down, your social skills up (eschew gamers and skaters in general), get out in front of your public speaking, learn to problem-solve. Peace Corps will help a lot - all my friends who did Peace Corps are very competent and well adjusted. Two or three languages that you can scrape by in will help immensely. Playing an international sport like soccer will help. Skill with hand tools helps a lot. Focus on these so you can cope in other societies and not look like an American (and it helps in ours too).

    Now, as far as prospects for planning employment in the coming decade: dim. Dim here and in your vague place abroad, unless somehow the world wrests control back from the thieves in Finance. If we don't, you'll want to do something in Finance because they'll continue to steal everyone's money and there won't be much left to employ people in other sectors except Service. But having skills that allow you to move around abroad will give you a big advantage. So that means if you want to do a dual major, do it in something that gives you a chance to work in a lower-income world - something that is transferable, useful across scales, and that people need to get by. That is: not a luxury good like hotel management, unless you feel you want to service the rich.
    Any suggestions for other fields that may have a better potential in a lower income world? One that comes to mind for me is civil engineering... but my math isn't the best (I'm working on it).

    I would love to serve the poor rather than the rich also. So I am open to working for Non for profits and other organizations like that.


    I'll see if I can answer a few of these.

    The job prospects abroad aren't the best at the moment due to the economy being down globally but things could be quite different when you graduate. There are a couple things that can really increase your chances of getting a job abroad though. The first would be knowing the language in the area of the world you want to work in. The second would be to get some international work experience be it through an internship, Peace Corp type stuff, or maybe even a study abroad program. A lot of places won't hire you unless you have international work experience but you need that experience to get a job internationally... Knowing an in-demand foreign language can get you over that hump though.

    So education wise, picking up a foreign language in school would be beneficial on top of anything else you get. An international affairs bachelors would probably be fine though but as you mentioned, a GIS certificate wouldn't be a bad idea for another hard skill. You'll probably need to get a masters to supplement whatever bachelors you get though, but I can see that going two ways. You could get a masters in planning or you could go the international development route. As I understand, both degrees essentially accomplish the same thing but the theory going into them is different. I think planning would probably give you a wider knowledge base since international development overlaps international affairs much more than planning does.
    Very good advice. Are there other in demand languages other then Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese that I should know about?

    I have also considered a study abroad program while I am at UIC... most likely in Latin America (which is where I would love to work).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    French is beneficial if you want to work in Africa. Then of course Arabic is good in the Middle East where there are currently a ton of government contracts.

  8. #8
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    Oh and by the way, I have started networking with some people in the field (and related ones). I plann on going to the APA's 2013 Conference in Chicago to make more connections and gain some insight into the field

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by RossKinkade View post
    Hello,

    My name is Ross Kinkade. Im currently a Freshman (technically a sophmore- graduate high school early) going to Waubonsee Community College to prepare for transfering to UIC's Bachelors in Urban and Public Affairs. I have had a unpaid internship on the Historical Preservation Commission in my town, and I am actively looking for others.

    The main reason I got interested in the field was because of my interest with how cities work and are designed. I am also interested in preparing them for the future (not neccesarially Smart Growth and New Urbanism). I also have more of an international focus in the field- my goal is to work out side of the USA ( with my main focus more on developing countries, not throwing out developed countries entirely). I also have interest in Architecture, International Affairs and Politics.

    I have a couple questions that I need some answers too:

    1) What are the job prospects and requirements to work internationally? Is there enough demand for planners abroad and what type of education do I need?

    2) Should I dual major in a related field/Planning? I have been thinking about minoring in International Affairs at UIC. Maybe get some GIS certification? What are things to learn and gain to increase my selling potential as a planner?

    3) Where are there internships in the field? What are places to look for them?

    Any other advice and direction is appreciated.

    I'm sure I have more questions but these are all for now.
    Hello!

    My personal feel, as a non-American, is that the term "international planning" is a bit of a misnomer. The idea of urban planning, as someone mentioned, differs from country to country.

    If you're looking at the Middle East, Russia or China, an urban planner equals mostly to master planning, urban design, subdivision designs and the like. You're likely to have a strong design background, coming from Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or a strong design-based Urban Planning and Design, with quantitative skills to do simple calculations and projections. This will be further supported by other allied industries like civil engineering. This is because many of these countries are growing and the governments are trying to house the population in new cities built up from scratch, while at the same time undertaking a lot of high-tech test-bedding work. You'll find a lot of "eco-cities" springing up, with use of green building technologies and pedestrian friendly features.

    If you're hoping to do more development work, i.e. organising development projects, community consultations and the like, you would require a slightly different set of skills including, but not limited to, impact assessments, development theory, community consultation skills and the like. Here, the skills you need are "softer" as you'll be doing more project management work.

    I do think that it would make sense to ask yourself what type of job you do want to work overseas, as in a more technical role or more project based. If you want a more technical career, then you should build up on the technical skillsets involved in that area. Be prepared for change, and be prepared that you may not necessarily enjoy in the area you'll thought you'll enjoy working in, and new areas may open up to you.

    One suggestion I can give is to also check out the NGOs/IGOs websites to see what sort of skillsets they are looking out for. Places like UN Habitat, the World Bank and so forth will describe on their websites what the person is expected to do and what qualifications they want.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by joshww81 View post
    Hello!

    My personal feel, as a non-American, is that the term "international planning" is a bit of a misnomer. The idea of urban planning, as someone mentioned, differs from country to country.

    If you're looking at the Middle East, Russia or China, an urban planner equals mostly to master planning, urban design, subdivision designs and the like. You're likely to have a strong design background, coming from Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or a strong design-based Urban Planning and Design, with quantitative skills to do simple calculations and projections. This will be further supported by other allied industries like civil engineering. This is because many of these countries are growing and the governments are trying to house the population in new cities built up from scratch, while at the same time undertaking a lot of high-tech test-bedding work. You'll find a lot of "eco-cities" springing up, with use of green building technologies and pedestrian friendly features.

    If you're hoping to do more development work, i.e. organising development projects, community consultations and the like, you would require a slightly different set of skills including, but not limited to, impact assessments, development theory, community consultation skills and the like. Here, the skills you need are "softer" as you'll be doing more project management work.

    I do think that it would make sense to ask yourself what type of job you do want to work overseas, as in a more technical role or more project based. If you want a more technical career, then you should build up on the technical skillsets involved in that area. Be prepared for change, and be prepared that you may not necessarily enjoy in the area you'll thought you'll enjoy working in, and new areas may open up to you.

    One suggestion I can give is to also check out the NGOs/IGOs websites to see what sort of skillsets they are looking out for. Places like UN Habitat, the World Bank and so forth will describe on their websites what the person is expected to do and what qualifications they want.

    Hope this helps a bit.
    Well said. Let me point out I focused on personal development needed to be able to follow the path joshww81 laid out. ;o)
    -------
    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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