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Thread: Having a Plan B just in case

  1. #1

    Having a Plan B just in case

    The planning job market is finally recovering after the recession left the profession in shambles, but I'm still somewhat nervous about the stability of government jobs in the age of the tea party and budget deficits. As a hypothetical exercise, if needed to find employment on the private-sector side in a non-planner capacity, what options potentially exist?

    First one that comes to mind is real estate development and other land acquisition related jobs, partly because my background is in right-of-way consulting. What else is out there?

    Additionally, if going back to school to obtain a second degree is also an option, what degree would highly compliment a degree in planning, but also open up new career avenues. I'm thinking MPA. MBA or possibly a degree or certificate in GIS.
    The content contrarian

  2. #2
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    I think site acquisition is going to be a busy field in the next few years as companies look to expand after years of sitting on the sidelines. It also seems like a field where your planning experience would make you a natural fit for such a position. A potential downside I have seen from my research is that most of those positions require a good deal of travel, and may not be good for someone with a young family. Another possibilty I have heard about is working for a company that does wireless towers. They always need people to help navigate the local government approval process. I know Veloise has some experience with those positions.

    In terms of going back to school, getting an MPA or MBA might be a good option if you want to be a director someday. As a director you are dealing more with administrative things and those degrees could be useful. A certificate in GIS could be more atteactive because it is less time and less $ than another full-blown degree, but you may be pigeon-holed into being a GIS tech for the rest of your career, which may or may not be a good thing.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Oh, I thought the thread was about emergency contraception. Never mind.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Um, get out of planning altogether and pursue a different career path?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Data. There will be a tremendous demand for people who know how to collect, manage, and analyze data.
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Um, get out of planning altogether and pursue a different career path?
    I'm a little surprised by this response. Didn't you undergo a similar exercise when looking for your current employer? I love my current career and don't foresee any issues, but sometimes the unfortunate happens and it may be necessary to take a different career path if there are no suitable planning jobs available. I would probably return to land acquisition and right-of-way consulting since I still have contacts in the industry and the skill set which comes with community development is mostly transferable.
    The content contrarian

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I'm a little surprised by this response. Didn't you undergo a similar exercise when looking for your current employer?

    No, I was actually focusing on marketing my transferable skills in non-planning areas: GIS, NEPA/Due Dilligence, general drafting, etc. and mostly in the oil/gas industry. I dug around some planning websites more of curiosity than anything else. I found this company and noticed an ad for a site designer, dusted off my planning portfolio which was on the shelf for over a year, tailored the flash project, sent in a hard copy, interviewed, and was hired on the spot. I love my current job BUT I really think I was in the right place at the right time for the FIRST time in my ENTIRE planning career. Well, I was already seven years into planning and that is far too long for me to have my first break. I hope to stay at my full time job for a long time, but I am already planning on going back to school part time to switch careers into finance/accounting and go back into oil and gas. This time, I want to be AHEAD of the curve, hopefully years before things start slowing down again in planning.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

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  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    Oh, I thought the thread was about emergency contraception. Never mind.


    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid
    I hope to stay at my full time job for a long time, but I am already planning on going back to school part time to switch careers into finance/accounting and go back into oil and gas. This time, I want to be AHEAD of the curve, hopefully years before things start slowing down again in planning.
    Heh, accounting is almost the exact opposite of design. I'm surprised yet again. Finance on the other hand would be a good compliment to a planning degree, especially if working with budgets and grants.
    The content contrarian

  9. #9
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Nonprofits. I do grant management (CDBG, HUD SHP, other entitlements) as well as managing private foundation funding. I was able to leverage the experience and contacts gained as a public sector planner to land the position. I do plan to get back into the public sector, though, in order to get fully vested for a pension if nothing else.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Heh, accounting is almost the exact opposite of design. I'm surprised yet again. Finance on the other hand would be a good compliment to a planning degree, especially if working with budgets and grants

    It is a complete career change, unrelated to planning. Today, it is not uncommon for most professionals to go through 2-3 different careers, sometimes unrelated. It just seems like planners once they are planners are far more reluctant to do a 180 and find a different career path. I am not looking to work in budgets and grants. I want to work in accounting or finance in oil and gas here in Houston. It is a long term goal and will take me several years to complete a degree part time while still working as a full time planner. Granted, my goals can change like anyone else, but that is MY Plan B/long term Plan A for now.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Data. There will be a tremendous demand for people who know how to collect, manage, and analyze data.
    Yep. That's basically what I do now in the homebuilding industry. The great thing is that it's also transferable across different industries. Healthcare, Manufacturers, Real Estate, Marketing Firms, Financial Services...they all need analysts and people who can provide strategic direction.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I'm kind of curious how one gets involved in those data jobs. I have a planning and GIS background but I'm interested in expanding it to things beyond that. I'm hesitant to take my GIS skills to the next level just because I don't want to get pigeonholed into that for my whole career but I'm very interested in the analysis portion of it. I've dabbled in monitoring and evaluation which I do find interesting but I've been uncertain how to make a career of it. Data just looks to be such an multi-disciplinary field that it seems like it would be tough to break into with a planning background unless you're working with something tangentially related to it.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    I'm kind of curious how one gets involved in those data jobs. I have a planning and GIS background but I'm interested in expanding it to things beyond that. I'm hesitant to take my GIS skills to the next level just because I don't want to get pigeonholed into that for my whole career but I'm very interested in the analysis portion of it. I've dabbled in monitoring and evaluation which I do find interesting but I've been uncertain how to make a career of it. Data just looks to be such an multi-disciplinary field that it seems like it would be tough to break into with a planning background unless you're working with something tangentially related to it.
    My work is very data intensive, and I have steered my career in that direction. It began with a job with the Census Bureau, then a number of statistics, economic geography, population geography, and similar classes in grad school. After that I did quite a bit of real estate market research. Now as an economic development/planning/market research consultant I do a number of studies every year. I am also branching out with a start-up information technology business.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian chupacabra's avatar
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    I've actually been thinking about pursuing a degree in accounting or finance on the side. I like the idea that it offers a whole other spectrum of opportunities from what I do now.
    You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.

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