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Thread: How to explain what I do for a job

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    How to explain what I do for a job

    When I tell someone i'm an urban planner, the response is invariably "whats that?" It's gotten so bad, that I'm starting to just tell people I'm a civil engineer. What's a good way to sum up urban planning in a quick sentence or two?

  2. #2
    "I help regulate development and redevelopment for the city. That includes everything from residential subdivisions, commercial and industrial development, and utilities using our public rights-of-way, to helping homeowners figure out if they can build a garage on their property without zoning approval, among many, many other things. What do you do?"
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
    Abraham Lincoln

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Another Cyburbian once wrote: "I keep the junk yard or pig farm from locating on the other side of your backyard fence." Or something to that effect.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Owego View post
    It's gotten so bad, that I'm starting to just tell people I'm a civil engineer.
    I know you're not selling your services like that, but do be careful with claiming to be an engineer, else the PE Union will call down their hellhounds on you for not having a license.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    "I help regulate foster quality development and redevelopment for the city. That includes everything from residential subdivisions, commercial and industrial development, and utilities using our public rights-of-way, to helping homeowners figure out if they can build a garage on their property without zoning approval, among many, many other things. What do you do?"
    a slight edit
    Last edited by mike gurnee; 27 Aug 2013 at 8:01 PM.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    I usually responded that I am a land use planner and work with developers Then I would ask "what is your profession"? Than I would ask questions regarding their profession and they normally would keep the conversation going about their occupation and I would learn more about them and they would forget about the "planner

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    We've had a bunch of these conversations over the years, and the general consensus has been, you can't. My mom and kid watched me on t.v. at public hearings for years and never "got it". It is very normal for planners to say their spouses, families, friends, have no clue. Doctor, lawyer, geologist, journalist, they get it; planner, not so much. Even my own brother paid an architect to "get" him a variance because he had no idea that was something I dealt with every day and could have represented him for for free, and done a better job.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    If "Planner" cause confusion, I usually also say "Development Consultant" and they instantly get it.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  9. #9
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I tend to use Public Administrator more than Planner as the focus of my job is to make sure money is spent on things wisely.

    If you tell people Planner, they look at you oddly and many hear Planter. That is particularly true here as we have a very slight french pronunciation and there are many silent T's in french.

    When I use Transportation Planner, they really look befuddled or ask if I am in charge of logistics.

    Yeah Public Administrator is the way to go.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I usually tell people I handle zoning and permits for the county and other exciting stuff. They usually get the sarcasm and drop the topic.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I don't. I just say "I am a Planner, so tell me more about what you do?" Most of the time, they don't give a rip about what I do, they just want to talk about how awesome their career is.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    "I am an urban designer. I design subdivisions, master planned communities, and town centers for a living."

    I personally don't like the term "urban designer" since I also do suburban and rural planning not to mention non-design planning, but it's an elevator speech.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jwhitty's avatar
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    Ten Answers to "what's an urban planner?" I

    arrange wedding receptions for streets and houses.
    make your neighbors hate you.
    steal grandma's house.
    bar tend on the weekends.
    make your kid's school overcrowded.
    get yelled at by old people.
    write things you have never read.
    institute the new world order.
    enable your reality.
    do real estate things.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    Another Cyburbian once wrote: "I keep the junk yard or pig farm from locating on the other side of your backyard fence." Or something to that effect.
    I think that was me - IIRC, my normal refrain, back when I was at UWZero, was that the planner is "the one who helps to ensure that that vacant land that is behind your nice new house doesn't become a scrapyard or rendering plant".



    Mike

  15. #15
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I always found it very difficult to describe the work of a planner without sounding like a boring regulator/development cop/bureaucrat. The key, I think, is to emphasize the facets that work that involve helping the community shape its long-term growth versus the minutiae of setbacks and development controls.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    I always found it very difficult to realize the work of a planner is boring regulator/development cop/bureaucrat.
    FIFY

    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    The key, I think, is to emphasize the facets that work that involve helping the community shape its long-term growth versus the minutiae of setbacks and development controls.
    But my metal car repair building on Main Street will create jobs and taxes. Long-term be damned!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    First of all, this thread is absolutely hilarious. Thanks to whoever started it and for all your contributions! I'm also a student, and instead of urban and regional planning I try to say "city planning" because you'd think that would be more straightforward. Except it's not so people follow up and say, what do you do? I respond: plan cities, just like it sounds. People usually either blink or get really excited because it sounds "soooo much cooler" than corporate or pre-med or engineering.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Vancity's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by akshali2000 View post
    First of all, this thread is absolutely hilarious. Thanks to whoever started it and for all your contributions! I'm also a student, and instead of urban and regional planning I try to say "city planning" because you'd think that would be more straightforward. Except it's not so people follow up and say, what do you do? I respond: plan cities, just like it sounds. People usually either blink or get really excited because it sounds "soooo much cooler" than corporate or pre-med or engineering.
    Yeaaah, also a student, and when I tell people "city/urban planning" is what I study they often think I'm in architecture. I try to explain that that's not what its about, but, most people don't get it. Which baffles me..

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    I'm also trying to get into the habit of asking people the same question back as they ask me. Even if they say I'm chemical engineering/or I am a chemical engineer, a lot of me people (including me) don't actually know what that is. But because it is a more standard answer, people don't question it and so they themselves are not used to having to explain it.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Explaination:

    "If Walmart wanted to buy up your neighborhood and open a new store, it used to be my job to recommend whether or not they could do that. Now it's my job to find out every five years or so whether the community wants a new Walmart or more neighborhood or if we should quit growing."
    What do you mean I can't plan? My SimCity has 390,269 people with a 99% happiness rating (1/23/2017)!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Planners "manage the way cities grow." How's that?
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  22. #22
    Member
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    "So what do you do?"

    "I play Sim City for a living"

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