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Thread: What age did you begin applying for director-level positions?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    What age did you begin applying for director-level positions?

    How old were you/how much experience did you have before you began applying for director level positions? Would you ever consider city manager jobs in smaller cities, etc? Is there an age minimum you would feel comfortable with? Is it normal to think we'll never have the experience or age to tackle those roles?

    If you've maxed out experience at one employer how do you get more without making a lateral move?

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    How old were you/how much experience did you have before you began applying for director level positions? Would you ever consider city manager jobs in smaller cities, etc? Is there an age minimum you would feel comfortable with? Is it normal to think we'll never have the experience or age to tackle those roles?

    If you've maxed out experience at one employer how do you get more without making a lateral move?
    I like this question. I have thought about this a lot. As a young planner with experience (6 years) I always wonder if I look old enough to be a director or city manager. Even though I probably have the credentials to try, sometimes I wonder if I would just be spinning my wheels when they look at me...
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Is there an age?

    I know a few City Managers in my state in their early 30s, they have some decent size cities too (like 30k+). I think it depends a lot on the person, i.e. their professionalism and their political savy. Even more though, it probably depends on the boss and their attiude toward younger people. Some city managers would be fine with a young-ish director and some councils will hire a young city manager, but this oppsite is probably more often true.

    As for the when we would feel comfortable with it... I come from the millenial generation, and we walk in the door ready to run the place on our first day, as woefully inadequate as we may be.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    In my previous career (arts administration) I began applying to director level positions in my 30s. But I only got one (and it was short lived). It’s a small field in a small city, so most of those positions are still filled by the people who were already there when that was my field. Positions open up infrequently and when they do, its not uncommon for the organization to have already decided or identified a preferred candidate by the time it hits the public. Same with the few public sector jobs I applied for.

    In planning, a more recent field for me, I am about to apply for my first director level position. I’m 43. I think I have a very good chance as I’ve been “invited” to apply. I have about 6 years of planning/community development related experience since I got my degree. But some of my arts-related work was also connected with community development, so I can draw on that to some degree as well.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  5. #5
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    The planning director at one of my internships became a director in his mid 20's. He happened to be start his career during the planning boom in the 90's, and was able to rise through the ranks pretty quickly with his city's heavy workload. I would imagine that it's alot harder to do that right now.

    Quote Originally posted by jhenry View post
    As for the when we would feel comfortable with it... I come from the millenial generation, and we walk in the door ready to run the place on our first day, as woefully inadequate as we may be.
    Yes we do
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  6. #6
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    I was 31 when I applied for a director level position a few years ago. Was one of 2 finalists, but did not get the job.

    Applied for my current director level position at age 37, and got it.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I had my first director level position when I was 28, as I was finishing up my masters degree.
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  8. #8
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I applied for director level positions starting at 32 and got my first one that year. I think you need to have at least 8 years of current and long range planning experience first and also make sure you get the chance to supervisor people at some point as well. Getting to deal with budgets is important too.

    I certainly see my next position being a planning deputy/manager/director/supervisory position. Though, I'm pretty sure I would not want to be a city manager...ever.
    Last edited by mendelman; 11 Jun 2012 at 2:27 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  9. #9
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Just turned 29, it was 2006 when there were still plenty of openings and I got the job practically on the spot (that should have told me something, I'm no longer there).
    I have met a few younger than 29, but not many - they are usually in small towns or rural counties that don't pay well (<$65k)
    @GigCityPlanner

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus
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    I think if you are comfortable you should apply at any age. I applied for my first director position at 26 and got it. It shocked me because I was so young (and a woman when there were no other female directors in the organization). I really didn't think I had a shot, but it was in a community I wanted to be in so I applied anyway. I've been in the position for 8 years now.

  11. #11
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    It has far more to do with how you feel about the overall quality of your experience. I was "baptized by fire" early in my career, but that resulted in me becoming a director in a small town at 24 due to the rapid experience I gained. I am now 30 and director in a larger town, with a few interesting stops in between.

    I don't really know what my next career move will be, but I'm not worried about it. I am very content in my current position--and this position marks probably the first time in which I'm having fun with my work. We have tons of really unique challenges and I get to wear a few different hats outside of the normal PD role, plus the staff I'm working with in other departments along with the CM is outstanding. At some point I'll make a jump into city management or consulting, but as it stands right now I feel like I could stay in this position with this employer for a decade without getting bored or getting happy feet.

    "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."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Haven't yet at 55.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    I was 33 when I applied, turned 34 and got the job. I've been a PD ever since.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian azmodela's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    how do you get more without making a lateral move?
    Don't fear the lateral move, sometimes you have to move over to move up. Approach is like a chess match, every move is strategic.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by azmodela View post
    Don't fear the lateral move, sometimes you have to move over to move up. Approach is like a chess match, every move is strategic.
    The lateral move took me off a sinking ship and into a four year pay freeze. Now I'm reluctantly looking for jobs again for a pay bump and title change. It's hard not to feel depressed about this right now.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    The lateral move took me off a sinking ship and into a four year pay freeze. Now I'm reluctantly looking for jobs again for a pay bump and title change. It's hard not to feel depressed about this right now.
    Sorry to hear that and good luck. That's one of the tough parts about planning-having to pull up stakes and move.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  17. #17
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Twice.....

    29 years old for me and I got it......
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