Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Alternative career paths for economic development skill set?

  1. #1

    Alternative career paths for economic development skill set?

    Hi All,

    I have nearly six years of experience working in the area of redevelopment and economic development in California. I've done well in this field (received promotions and project manager responsibilities). However, after taking three jobs in this field, I've unfortunately concluded that the day to day nature of the work is not a fit for me. To put it simply, I don't want to spend the next 20 years of my career (and life) churning out spreadsheets in an office. Moreover, while I am highly organized and never miss a deadline, I find the deadline-driven nature of the work highly stressful. After being successful but utterly miserable in these jobs, I have made the difficult decision that a career change is needed.

    At this time, I'm looking at alternative paths that would allow me to engage the aspects of my skill set that I enjoy, which include project management, client-customer relationship building, and technical writing. At this time, I'm researching account/sales manager opportunities, since this field alone seems to offer all that I'm seeking: the ability to work out of a traditional office (usually from home and in a territory), flexible schedules and high autonomy, a decent salary, and work that focuses on marketing and customer relationships. The only concern is that such a move would likely take me far away from the planning field and into pharma or another divergent industry. Besides ESRI, I am not familiar with any companies in the planning field that offer sales manager/representative positions.

    Has anyone made this move to sales or successfully shifted their redevelopment/economic development skill set into another career? Any feedback would be welcomed! Thank you in advance for your comments!

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,893
    I work as a consultant in economic development, planning, and market analysis. My experience with the field has been far different from yours. Most of my work has been planning - research, concept development, and strategy formation. I do little of the more mundane incentives, financial management, grants, etc. Others in economic development may manage downtown revitalization agencies, may be in business attraction and retention (BRE), may be in research, may be as a county extension agent, etc. It is a very diverse field. Perhaps an option for you would be to stay in planning/economic development while shifting your focus to work you enjoy more. For example, your interest in client-customer relationship building seems to fit with BRE programs.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Hi Cardinal,

    Thanks for your response. These are all areas that have interested me. Unfortunately, the California economy has continually worsened, and many of these jobs have disappeared as a result of the ongoing recession and the elimination of Redevelopment Agencies this past year. I've consistently looked for these jobs in my region since 2009 and have only found director-level positions - mid-career-level positions are virtually impossible to find. I'm wondering if I should accept that my field is too limited in my region and shift to another career. (Unfortunately, moving is not an option.)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,893
    The economic development community has suffered from budget cuts in the ongoing recession. That won't change for some time. While larger communities may have a staff with multiple positions, most economic development departments are one-person shops. This can make it difficult to break into, but at the same time, can offer better options for advancement. If you have 3-5 years of experience there is no reason why you should not apply for director-level positions. Naturally, with less experience you are more likely to get hired in a small community, while larger cities or counties will look for people with more years under their belt.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    18
    Quote Originally posted by gitana View post
    Moreover, while I am highly organized and never miss a deadline, I find the deadline-driven nature of the work highly stressful.
    If you don't thrive under intense pressure, sales is NOT for you.

    I also think its important to understand that feeling like you are wasting your life churning out spreadsheets in a cubicle is a feeling shared by almost everyone in the white-collar workforce. And its not something that's likely to be fixed by switching industries.

    I do think you are on to something with the idea of doing a job that takes you into the field vs. being stuck in one office all the time. I'd be looking at the people you interact with through your current job...consultants, other agencies, etc. Do any of them do things that you are interested in, or work in circumstances that fit your life/personality better?

  6. #6
    Thanks, Cardinal and db_peligro. Your suggestions will be helpful as I consider how to redirect my current career path!

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 9
    Last post: 22 Jun 2013, 6:49 PM
  2. Replies: 6
    Last post: 14 Jul 2009, 2:38 PM
  3. Replies: 1
    Last post: 20 Oct 2007, 4:18 PM
  4. Replies: 3
    Last post: 17 Aug 2006, 10:25 AM
  5. Career paths in adaptive reuse?
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 1
    Last post: 04 Nov 1999, 12:44 PM