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Thread: Advice on the international portability of a US planning degree

  1. #1
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    Advice on the international portability of a US planning degree

    Hi,
    I'm tarting an Urban Planning graduat degree this fall and have a couple of questions: I'm not at all sure that I would spend the rest of my life in the US. Will it be easy for me to find a job in planning in a different place if I got my education in the US? Is it a location-specific degree? Would you still recommend to study in the US even if it's not localized?

    Thanks a lot!

  2. #2
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    There are a lot of threads about this topic on cyburbia. I guess the first question is: Where do you eventually want to work. Planning policies and legislation differ from state to state, province to province, country to country (as I'm sure you know). Try to "internationalize" your degree as much as possible by studying precedence from the different countries/cities you want to work in.

    Also try to get internships in the places you want to work.

    If your already accepted make the most of it. Work in the USA for a while and gain experience then leave.

    Just my opinion. Good luck though.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Just to add, a planning degree will teach you how to plan in a specific area but it should also give you some fundamentals that you can take anywhere.

    The problem with finding a job in another country is that there are often a number of bureaucratic hoops that you and employers have to jump through. In the case of employers, it's often not worth the effort in this economy to jump through those hoops when they can hire a qualified person domestically. That's not to say you won't ever be hired internationally, you just need to get enough specialized experience for it to be worth their while. Or you can attempt to get hired by a transnational company and move that way.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Sage advice given already. I will just add/reiterate a few things. While there is a good deal of variety among municipalities in the US about standards, terminology, etc. you are likely to run into even more internationally. One can figure it out, but, for example, depending on the kind of planning you are doing, you may need to be comfortable with the metric system, protocols, etc. that are unfamiliar.

    Another potential hurdle is that many countries have provisions in place that make it difficult (but not impossible) for foreign nationals to fill professional level positions. In many places, if there is a shortage of citizens that are qualified, they will create fast track opportunities for foreigners, though. Australia is one place where they have some of these provisions for areas in planning.

    The other thing I have found in looking at this same thing is that in many developing countries the range of planning issues (if they are called planning at all – often its “development”) are vastly different from what we deal with in the US. For example, while we might create a plan for long term management and updating of the municipal water and waste systems, many countries are still trying to figure out how to develop these systems in the first place. I base this on my time living and working in Uganda, but admit that at that time, I was not studying or even interested in planning, so my eye wasn’t really on those issues.

    Language will also be an obstacle to contend with.

    But is it doable? Absolutely. At the school I attended, there is a dual Planning and Latin American Studies program and these folks emerge aware of planning issues in that region and are at the very least proficient in either Spanish and/or Portuguese. And many do fieldwork abroad as part of their masters’. That’s a definite way to get one’s foot in the door and have hands-on experience in a foreign context.

    So, you might consider pursuing some classes in a region of interest and/or choose a language that you think will broaden your chances. Also look into some of the programs at the many UN affiliates, USAID, etc. that help bring in young professionals and groom them for a career in international development.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quick question here: Why do so many programs offer International focused programs if they don't prepare you to plan in a foreign country effectively?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by Owego View post
    Quick question here: Why do so many programs offer International focused programs if they don't prepare you to plan in a foreign country effectively?

    The same reason why there are so many students pursuing planning despite the limited number of job opportunities in the field?
    The content contrarian

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