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Thread: How long did you stay in your first planning job?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    How long did you stay in your first planning job?

    Just curious. For those of you experienced planners out there--how long did you stay with the first department or firm that hired you? A planner friend of mine says that 3 years is perfect.

    Also, on a slightly related note...has anyone ever taken a voluntary few months unpaid leave from a planning job? I know a doctor who works in a small mountain town who arranged to take a couple months off every winter to when his patient load drops off. Planning work ebbs and flows, I wonder if anyone has any experience with arranging something similar. All the really good adventures just don't fit in a week, if you know what I mean.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    I stayed 6 years but the position was pretty nice with yearly contractual pay increases and only 37.5 hours/week.

    3 years is a little light since many jobs like to see BA or MA and 3-5 years as a minimum. If you can get another job to keep your experience growing than good for you but 4-5 years is probably better before you start applying for that next step up planning job.

    There was little upward mobility due to the ages of the supervisors so I had to leave to move up in the chair of command.

    Public sector work doesn't often ebb and flow except around Christmas and mid summer but there is always something to do in the public sector. Private sector planners sometimes take extended summer vacations (2 weeks) if things are slow, but not for months on end.
    @GigCityPlanner

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
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    I must be one of the exceptions - come November 20 years.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hallstot View post
    Just curious. For those of you experienced planners out there--how long did you stay with the first department or firm that hired you? A planner friend of mine says that 3 years is perfect.

    Also, on a slightly related note...has anyone ever taken a voluntary few months unpaid leave from a planning job? I know a doctor who works in a small mountain town who arranged to take a couple months off every winter to when his patient load drops off. Planning work ebbs and flows, I wonder if anyone has any experience with arranging something similar. All the really good adventures just don't fit in a week, if you know what I mean.

    Thanks.
    Two years. I doubt the public sector would allow you to gallivant around having fun, as enjoying a private sector job is increasingly verboten. Maybe a firm would after you put in a decade or so. Ish. And you bill well and bring in lots of money.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    I'm still at my first post-graduate degree job, 4 years. I am definitely ready to move up, however the current market for mid-level to Senior positions is non-existent in my area and I've pretty much committed to staying in this area for another 3 years...my benies are much better if I stay 5 because I become vested in the state pension plan at 5 years, so I plan on staying at least to 5 since I've made it this far. I'm waiting for all you baby boomers to start retiring so the gen-xers and below can start moving up!

    Depending on your employer this may or may not be possible...the most anyone ever did at my current job was a 3 week vacation during the summer.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  6. #6
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Spent 3 years at my first job. Jumped ship when I found a better opportunity in the community I had interned for in college (and then spent 11 years there) and due to the fact my position was scheduled to see a pay cut following an evaluation of all city jobs at the time.
    "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 Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    I stayed just over a year at my first job. I would've stayed longer as I really enjoyed the town and my co-workers but an opportunity came up to be closer to my now husband so I chose to make the move.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I'm at five years but itching to move on. I like the annual pay raises and vacation (and I'm now vested in the pensions) but sometimes I seek a challenge. My father says if the pay and benefits are good and the commute is short don't move.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I've been at my first planning job for a little over 2 years, one of which was as an intern in school. I'll have opportunity to pursue the Peace Corps in the spring, so I'll consider leaving if that comes up.

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    3 years. I did not like the first place I worked, but felt 3 years was enough time to get experience and not feel like I was leaving too soon. In fact, 3 years has become a bit of a pattern for me, though based on how I feel at my current position I think this one could be a long haul.

    "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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  11. #11
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I just left after five years. That may have been a year or two too long as there is the danger of getting pigenholed as a public sector planner the longer you stay, and you may not want that if you desire to keep all of your options open. I was concerned that I'd morph into one of those civil servants who just phones it in everyday, takes a long lunch, and leaves at the stroke of 4:30 - i.e., stagnant. That may be okay when you have a wife and kids and just need to pay bills, but I wasn't ready to be that person at this point in life.

    The public sector is such a strange anomaly in the modern working world, though. I had some of the lifers telling me '5 years? You just got here!' when I announced I was leaving.

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    About four years. Left to go to grad school; planning in the early 1990s was starting to reach the point where an undergraduate degree just wasn't enough to get ahead.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  13. #13
    First job 3 years (1985-1988) Galveston TX.................Second job 9 years................Current job 6 years....................retire in 7 years, will be 66...........Woohoo!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Three years. My plan had been to make it to five years and reevaluate things at that point, but right around my third anniversary upper management made a crucial mistake that lead to a mass exodus of junior amd mid-level staff. The agency I was working for had a relatively high turnover rate, and at times it struggled to fill vacancies because the entry-level salaries were well below market level...management decided the solution to filling vacancies was to raise the entry level and first step salary ranges. Ok, sure, simple solution, but everything went to hell for them because they didn't think to raise everyone elses' salaries accordingly. We suddenly had supervisors managing folks who got their first raise and were now making more than their manager, mid-level folks being asked to train entry-level employees who were making more than them, etc. Chaos.
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    7 years, and left because of the poor economy and a chance to move to an area my wife and I had been eyeing for years and the transfer to this area never materialized because the economy tanked when i put in a request. Took a paycut but it has given me the ability to see things from both sides of planning (pubic and private sector).
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    First job - public sector - 2 yrs, 8 mos
    Second job - private sector - 5 yrs, 2 mos
    Third job - private sector - 5 yrs, 6 mos and counting......
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  17. #17
    Member
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    i'm so glad someone asked this question. this is my first full-time position post internship and grad school... it's been 2 years, 4 months (as a public sector ptech) and i've started to apply elsewhere in the past month. are you all counting your first job as a "planner" or just planning in general?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Mine was essentially just a title change from intern to planner. My responsibilities didn't change much in that transition. So from that stand point, my first real planning job started while I was still in school.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    From February 2000 to December 2003. Almost 4 years. I left when I got passed up for a promotion when I had the same credentials as the two previous people who had been promoted.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Laid off first two jobs before I even had a chance to leave by choice (both private sector planning). Had already been looking at my first job about 1-2 years before my layoff (right at the same time the economy tanked). It wasn't an active search but I limited it to Chicago. Second job I started looking only 6 months into my new job as it was apparent my boss didn't know a damn about earning new contracts. I have been at my third and current planning job only 2 months and I have no intention of leaving.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I left my first full-time planning job after 19 months to take my current job, which I have been at for 12+ years.
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  23. #23
    Cyburbian chupacabra's avatar
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    I've been in my first post-MLA job for just over 4 years. I think I've been here a bit too long and I am not planning to move on until next summer. This job is public sector and I'd like to go private for a while, but the opportunities I'm looking at right now may end up forcing me to take a new position with this same agency. I'm worried that if I'm in this same role for more than five years I'll take root.
    You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.

  24. #24
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    First planner job, 21 months. Second job, 17 months. Back to the first employer for 10 years. A couple more short lived planner jobs--19 and 22 months. Here on the panhandle for over 8 years.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hallstot View post
    Just curious. For those of you experienced planners out there--how long did you stay with the first department or firm that hired you? A planner friend of mine says that 3 years is perfect.
    I've heard professionals from many different fields say the phrase "three and out." Three years seems to be an average of when people move from their entry level job. Mileage will vary though
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

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