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Thread: Moving to current planning from consultant work?

  1. #1

    Moving to current planning from consultant work?

    I currently work in a small planning/urban design firm which does great advanced planning work on a variety of scales. As I said, it is small, and room for job growth is very little. I recently got offered a job doing current planning (review permits, etc) for a large metropolitan city. My career goal is to be doing urban design/long range planning for this city (the city I got offered the job in ) , should i accept the job to gain experience working in this city or stick to where I am at? I am a young planner, so any advice would help. thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by plannerjane001 View post
    I currently work in a small planning/urban design firm which does great advanced planning work on a variety of scales. As I said, it is small, and room for job growth is very little. I recently got offered a job doing current planning (review permits, etc) for a large metropolitan city. My career goal is to be doing urban design/long range planning for this city (the city I got offered the job in ) , should i accept the job to gain experience working in this city or stick to where I am at? I am a young planner, so any advice would help. thanks
    I sort of did the same thing. It has actually really helped simply because some of the plans and policies i created in advanced planning would have never been implemented for current planning and would have to have been amended, or just disregarded. I know, lame huh. Working both sides of the isle brings you more balance as a planner imo and look great on a resume later down in life. Good luck.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by plannerjane001 View post
    I currently work in a small planning/urban design firm which does great advanced planning work on a variety of scales. As I said, it is small, and room for job growth is very little. I recently got offered a job doing current planning (review permits, etc) for a large metropolitan city. My career goal is to be doing urban design/long range planning for this city (the city I got offered the job in ) , should i accept the job to gain experience working in this city or stick to where I am at? I am a young planner, so any advice would help. thanks
    The bigger question is "what are your design skills?" Is this urban design job a public sector position, or are the urban design projects completed by consultants? It makes sense to get your foot in the door at the agency doing what you know, and as an inside hire (in good standing) your chances of landing that urban design / long range planning job are greater. However, you will probably be expected to have some design skills already under your belt if you are to apply. I have worked in both design and non-design planning (including code enforcement and plan review) and the latter really doesn't really have any design work itself: it's just telling the designers what they need to redesign.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    The bigger question is "what are your design skills?" Is this urban design job a public sector position, or are the urban design projects completed by consultants? It makes sense to get your foot in the door at the agency doing what you know, and as an inside hire (in good standing) your chances of landing that urban design / long range planning job are greater. However, you will probably be expected to have some design skills already under your belt if you are to apply. I have worked in both design and non-design planning (including code enforcement and plan review) and the latter really doesn't really have any design work itself: it's just telling the designers what they need to redesign.
    My current work involves mostly street design/site plan work in a private consulting firm. I guess that I am a bit hesitant to take what others have called the "less glamorous" of work, but in all honestly, a lot of my work involves making pretty pictures. I guess I would like to hear more about those who are in positions where they do current planning work, if they ever have an opportunity to do more advanced planning? Is reviewing residential permits fun? I have a hunch that I wouldn't be doing much long range planning, as this agency has about 50/ 75+ planners?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by plannerjane001 View post
    My current work involves mostly street design/site plan work in a private consulting firm. I guess that I am a bit hesitant to take what others have called the "less glamorous" of work, but in all honestly, a lot of my work involves making pretty pictures. I guess I would like to hear more about those who are in positions where they do current planning work, if they ever have an opportunity to do more advanced planning? Is reviewing residential permits fun? I have a hunch that I wouldn't be doing much long range planning, as this agency has about 50/ 75+ planners?
    Many of us here have done both. I don't care for shlepping permits and all the current planning tasks. I care much more about the long-range. Others will have different opinions. You will shlep permits and push paper around until you get promoted or lateraled into long-range planning where you will hopefully get good stuff to work on.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I would be concerned about the size of the potential organization. In your current "small" firm you most likely interact frequently with your associates who have a varity of skills. And hopefully you all share ideas. With 50+ planners in the potential position you will not have such opportunity. Also, in the new job I doubt that any changes to the procedures/way of doing business would be readily accepted.

    On a positive, I wish I had someone with "pretty picture" skills when I draft development codes...It makes the provisions so much more understandable.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    I sort of did the same thing. It has actually really helped simply because some of the plans and policies i created in advanced planning would have never been implemented for current planning and would have to have been amended, or just disregarded. I know, lame huh. Working both sides of the isle brings you more balance as a planner imo and look great on a resume later down in life. Good luck.
    I agree that seeing both sides makes you more versatile later on down the line. Warning: reviewing permits and plans can be boring, but it is important to get it right. City government never works fast, so don't think you'll be doing this for only a little bit then will move up to the more exciting stuff soon. It may be years before you're involved with the good stuff. But learn what you can now - it comes in handy!
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  8. #8
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    I would be concerned about the size of the potential organization. In your current "small" firm you most likely interact frequently with your associates who have a varity of skills. And hopefully you all share ideas. With 50+ planners in the potential position you will not have such opportunity. Also, in the new job I doubt that any changes to the procedures/way of doing business would be readily accepted.

    On a positive, I wish I had someone with "pretty picture" skills when I draft development codes...It makes the provisions so much more understandable.
    This is where I really think having someone with true visual design skills could be a tremendous asset in current planning--you can really help address code deficiencies through use of graphics, etc. Also, you can bring private sector perspective to code content & implementation. Besides, a good manager isn't just going to let somebody with strong design & potential long-range skills exclusively deal permits like a Vegas dealer at a blackjack table.

    Also, as a general rule in public sector work I consider some time in current planning (it doesn't have to be a lot of time--just enough to grasp it well) to be a prereq. to cross into long-range planning. It provides a healthy dose of pragmatism and understanding of how new long range policies will be implemented.

    Volunteer for projects within the agency that deal with design/long-range. That will get you noticed for internal promotions/transfers into long-range.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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  9. #9
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I want to reiterate most of what everyone has said - I think since you're early in your career this would be a good move and experience builder, especially if it's with a City you really want to work for as well. And listen to Suburb, he hit the nail on the head.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    This is where I really think having someone with true visual design skills could be a tremendous asset in current planning--you can really help address code deficiencies through use of graphics, etc.
    I disagree. When I worked in code enforcement/current planning, I marked up / redlined drawings (site plans, elevations, general notes, details, specs, elevations, profiles, floor plans, planting plans, plant lists, photometric plans, building material lists, cost estimates, reports by others). Those marks up/redlining helped me to prepare my arguments which I summarized in review memos, meetings with developers to discuss my comments, or identifying other issues with my client (the municipality or client) by email, over the phone, or in person through public meetings and hearings. If I went back to that job and pulled out those application items, it would be littered with writing in various colors, highlights, post-it notes, copies of emails, etc. It would be one very unreadable mess.

    Graphics communication is conveying thoughts, process, concepts, and arguments through visual media, whether it is a construction sheet set, a detail, a flow chart, an oil painting, billboard, even audio-VISUAL media. Working as a designer/illustrator I have discovered two important components of graphics communication, among others, is readability and comprehension. Readability is forming a clear line of communication to the reader: typeface sizes, overlays, transparencies, spacing, colors, hatching, patterns, leader lines, dimensioning, details, photography, etc. Readibility is heavily determined by the size of the graphic and the distance from the viewer. I would never put a foot note on a billboard but could get away with it in a letter size document. Comprehension is understanding what do all of these objects/items mean. What is the purpose of the graphic? What idea or ideas am I trying to convey? Adjusting HOW the graphic is represented also adjusts people's comprehension. For example, drastically modifying the sizes of circles in a bubble chart for each interval of data, even when the range of data is very small, can lead to drastically different conclusions to the viewer than if those bubbles were more similar in size.

    Marking up a drawing and graphics communication are two different skill sets. True, you can make an argument that you learned to quickly sketch out a solution/concept on paper to visually convey an idea, which is a RENDERING skill. But is it a DESIGN skill? As a current planner, I can tell designer that a fence needs to be at least 9 feet high in an industrial site and board on board material, maybe I can go one step further can quickly sketch out a conceptual elevation or site plan as part of a review memo. But as a current planner, I don't deal with how that fence is attached to the posts or how it is anchored on the ground or the sealants/finishes. I personally don't consider choosing photographs or even sketches by others as a design or illustration skill but a research skill.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 10 Apr 2012 at 11:57 AM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I disagree. ...

    Graphics communication is conveying thoughts, process, concepts, and arguments through visual media, whether it is a construction sheet set, a detail, a flow chart, an oil painting, billboard, even audio-VISUAL media. W... I personally don't consider choosing photographs or even sketches by others as a design or illustration skill but a research skill.
    I agree with the assertion(s) that more graphics are needed in code to make the code comprehensible, and having a good graphics person can make your code better, if you can actually get approval to amend code to make it more comprehensible.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Well I agree that graphics are needed in code, but I never said anything about that in my posts. What I DID say was that we can't equate taking notes/scratching out quick sketches doing code enforcement in the same way we can design a fence or render a graphic. The OP wanted to go into long range planning/design work from a current planning background. I see some similarities between current and long-range planning, but I really don't see any connection between current planning and urban design skills.

    I also have some very serious concerns when graphics are used too heavily in CERTAIN types of documents such as a municipal code, which are legal documents. Many form based codes are very graphics heavy, in some cases taking the place of text, which makes it harder to uphold in a court of law. Design guidelines are an exception, since they are not legally binding (in most states) and they are only recommendations not requirements.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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