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Thread: AICP application - "Professional level of responsibility and resourcefulness"

  1. #1
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    AICP application - "Professional level of responsibility and resourcefulness"

    Good Afternoon all and happy 2014!

    I'm spending my NYD finishing up my application to take the AICP test in May 2014.

    Most of the essays are doable for me - although they sometimes take some creativity as I haven't had "real" planning experience yet - but my problem is with the essays related to "professional level of responsibility and resourcefulness." I don't really see much guidance on what is considered "professional level" as compared to "administrative or pre-professional" which APA clearly says not to include.

    Any guidance would be great - tips or examples from your own applications. Feel free to inbox me or email me at juliedeibel@wildmail.com

    thanks!

    Julie

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Kingmak's avatar
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    No "real" planning yet? Explain...
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian jwhitty's avatar
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    I was always under the impression that real planning experience was a prerequisite.

    IMO a brief listing of the differences:
    Administrative: spell checking ordinances, putting numbers into boxes, handing out papers, getting things stamped,
    Professional: Writing ordinances, analyzing and presenting data, responding to public comment, stamping things.

    Why do you want AICP if you don't have planning experience? What are you using the certification for? I wouldn't recommend sitting for the exam without experience, unless someone else is footing the bill.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    http://www.planning.org/certificatio...e.htm#criteria

    In particular:

    Persons with non-traditional professional-level planning experience are encouraged to apply if they can demonstrate how their experience meets the four criteria for professional planning experience listed in the AICP application.

    You can't sit for the exam unless your application has been approved for, among other things, professional planning experience, and separately verified by employer(s).

    The following is buried in the FAQs on http://www.planning.org/customerservice/

    The following should help clarify AICP's four professional planning experience criteria. We understand that the planning field is very diverse and given to a wide range of job descriptions. Therefore, you must fit your particular experience to the four criteria and provide concrete examples with substantive support. Your responses to each of the four criteria should be between 250 and 500 words in length.

    Please note: This summary serves only to offer additional information and does not replace the instructions for Demonstrating Professional Planning Experience.

    CRITERION 1: Applying a planning process appropriate to the situation

    Were you directly involved in two or more of the following planning process techniques:

    Public Opinion Surveys (evaluated community services, needs, and desires)?
    Technical Interviews (gathered information from community experts)?
    Inventory and Surveys (land uses, conflicts, traffic patterns, etc.)?
    Citizens Participation (presented plans, conducted "vision" workshops, prepared plan summary handouts)?
    Official Representatives Meetings (group or one-on-one meetings with public and private officials)?
    Draft Plan/Project Review (grassroots/informal feedback from public)?
    Public Hearings (formal feedback with elected officials and public for project/plan approval)?
    CRITERION 2: Employing an appropriately comprehensive point of view

    Have you:

    Worked on a project, say for downtown development, where you had to review several factors such as: traffic patterns, environmental concerns, economic impact, residential concerns, demographic considerations? or
    Worked on a project such as a proposed transportation system where considerations such as traffic patterns, highway/rail construction, commercial/residential proximity, pollution concerns, noise abatement, cost projections, community input, etc. were investigated?
    CRITERION 3: Involving a professional level of responsibility and resourcefulness

    Have you done one or more of the following:

    Supervised a project?
    Presented a proposal/plan before a decision making body?
    Provided significant input in one or more facets of a project (i.e., conducted research, managed staff, given technical expertise in areas such as computer application, strategy development, impact analysis, etc.)?
    CRITERION 4: Influencing public decision making in the public interest

    Have you, for example:

    Presented planning proposals before an elected/appointed body such as the city council, planning commission/board, citizens' advisory board, state/federal officials?
    Worked on a project, in a significant capacity, that was later presented to such a body?
    Recommended strategies based on research of past/current laws/ordinances or zoning proposals, etc.?
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    The exam includes many situational quesions that your professional experience will serve as your main guidance for answering, hence why it is a professional exam. The guide as quoted by nrschmid is the best guidance for writing your answer as that is what is used by those who detemine if you application is approved (professional planners).
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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Have you presented a case to a board? Worked on a comp plan of some kind? Always remember it doesn't have to get approved, you just have to work on it. Now if all your doing is approving patio permits, sorry, that's not what they're looking for. You have the experience in there somewhere, part of the application is kicking yourself to figure out what it is.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian Faust_Motel's avatar
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    I tortured myself over writing the application essays last summer. Here is what I would say:

    Can you think of situations where the buck stopped with you? Where you were the only one in the room with a governing body and you were presenting information to them that was critical to a decision that they needed to make? Did you get to draft something where if you made a mistake and it got adopted that way, it would be bad, so you had to be really, really careful? I didn't have to tap experience going that far back to describe it, but i did some of those things in my first planning job when I was 22 and really green. (I even did some of those as an AmeriCorps member working for no pay).

    Those were the kinds of activities from my experience that I described resulting in an authorization to take the test. (and passing, though APA sure takes their sweet time getting those certificates out...)

    /YMMV of course.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    To me it is often as simple as looking at the job title. Were you a planner1? Associate planner, Executuve director of a housing non-profit? those are examples of professional experience. A secretary in a planning department possibly a grant administrator would be an administrative position. Pre-professional work would include your time as an intern.
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    I've got to say that responses so far are pretty discouraging.

    By no "real" planning experience I mean that I felt that my work experience so far fits into the "non-traditional professional-level planning experience" category.

    I received my masters in planning in May 2013. Shortly before this, I went to a resume building workshop through my department where a certified planner said it seemed that I had enough non-traditional experience to fill that requirement - From community organizing to submitting community block grant applications (through americorps) to now working with an organization that works to strengthen the skills of mass transit workers, and therefore the reliability of (and then ridership of) mass transit systems.

    And I was planning on using this certification for two things - increase my chance of getting a real planning job and also to push myself to stay involved in the field after graduation and before securing this "real planning" job.

    But if I won't have a chance of passing the exam without experience directly related to planning - maybe I should reconsider for now.

    Thanks for your feedback

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by idealist909 View post
    I've got to say that responses so far are pretty discouraging.

    By no "real" planning experience I mean that I felt that my work experience so far fits into the "non-traditional professional-level planning experience" category.

    I received my masters in planning in May 2013. Shortly before this, I went to a resume building workshop through my department where a certified planner said it seemed that I had enough non-traditional experience to fill that requirement - From community organizing to submitting community block grant applications (through americorps) to now working with an organization that works to strengthen the skills of mass transit workers, and therefore the reliability of (and then ridership of) mass transit systems.

    And I was planning on using this certification for two things - increase my chance of getting a real planning job and also to push myself to stay involved in the field after graduation and before securing this "real planning" job.

    But if I won't have a chance of passing the exam without experience directly related to planning - maybe I should reconsider for now.

    Thanks for your feedback
    I think you have made a very honest assessment. The related work is important, but unless you have actual planning experience you technically do not qualify, and you will have difficulty passing the exam. (You should look up some of the prior threads about the exam, including discussion of many of the very poor questions in it.) Spend the next couple years getting the experience you need. If you can't get it through your work, then do it as a volunteer. There is usually some city or organization that would appreciate having assistance with a project. For example, you might look for a community that has been impacted by a disaster, or an organization working in a neighborhood in a larger city. I am volunteering my time with a group seeking to promote gardening; planting neighborhood orchards, developing urban farms, promoting community gardening, and working with developers to introduce gardens into new multifamily housing projects.
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by idealist909 View post
    And I was planning on using this certification for two things - increase my chance of getting a real planning job and also to push myself to stay involved in the field after graduation and before securing this "real planning" job.
    AICP is, ideally, designed to supplement the experience of a planning professional. I am also a somewhat recent graduate, so I certainly understand the idea of building any and all merits possible in order to provide a competitive advantage, but you are really putting the cart before the horse. Continue to push forward in your career endeavors and build an experience that matters to you. The AICP 'alphabet soup' behind your name can happen later.
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  12. #12
    Persons with non-traditional professional-level planning experience are encouraged to apply if they can demonstrate how their experience meets the four criteria for professional planning experience pay the fees listed in the AICP application.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    I think you should work hard on your essays, have a trusted friend or mentor review them, and see if you get accepted to sit for the exams anyway. People talk about how hard the exam is, but I have a bachelor's degree and I finished the exam in about an hour and fifteen minutes, and I passed on the first try. I am not sure if your work experience will qualify -- there is a lot of focus on making presentations to decisionmakers. The list that was posted above is very helpful. That list tells you precisely what the committee is looking for.

    However, even though I had 7 years of professional experience (some of which would be considered "preprofessional" by the opinions posted above) it took me three tries to get the committee to accept my essays. My other strong suggestion is to always submit the essays before the early bird deadline. My answers were rejected the first time and I didn't even get any explanation as to why no matter how many emails and phone calls I sent (they said it was a mistake and that I should have been admitted), so I had to wait until the next window to reapply -- this time I went with the early bird application deadline. Imagine my shock when they rejected half my essay answers as deficient, when previously they had told me my essays were fine. Fortunately, I had applied as an early bird, which gave me a third chance to revise my essays. Admittedly the first couple of drafts were dashed off...by the second rejection, I totally rewrote half of my essay answers and probably spent 7 hours writing and revising my essays, before they accepted them and allowed me to test.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Faust_Motel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by andromeda View post
    I think you should work hard on your essays, have a trusted friend or mentor review them, and see if you get accepted to sit for the exams anyway. People talk about how hard the exam is, but I have a bachelor's degree and I finished the exam in about an hour and fifteen minutes, and I passed on the first try. I am not sure if your work experience will qualify -- there is a lot of focus on making presentations to decisionmakers. The list that was posted above is very helpful. That list tells you precisely what the committee is looking for.

    However, even though I had 7 years of professional experience (some of which would be considered "preprofessional" by the opinions posted above) it took me three tries to get the committee to accept my essays. My other strong suggestion is to always submit the essays before the early bird deadline. .
    For what its worth the instructions about the essays and what they need to cover in the exam candidate bulletin have gotten MUCH better over the last couple of years. I went from being totally befuddled over what to write to getting it done pretty easily between the two times I applied to take the exam.

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