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Thread: Problems with an American with a European degree coming home?

  1. #1
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    Problems with an American with a European degree coming home?

    Hi all, I've been reading around the Forums and I don't think anyone has had this issue, so I will ask it myself. Am I likely to have problems finding work in the United States since I acquired my planning qualification abroad (United Kingdom), despite being an American citizen? I recently finished a Masters in Environmental/Town and country Planning at a Major University in The United Kingdom. The RTPI who accredit our course told us to not even look for work in the United States, the main reason they gave is American employers tend not to hire non-nationals. As I'm an American Citizen I've sort of ignored this advice and been applying for work all over the States, but I've yet to get any bites, I'm beginning to worry that US employers are put off by more than being non nationals, is it likely that having received my degree from a Non-American University that I'm going to have to settle for a position abroad?

  2. #2
    As you know from reading the forums, the job market for planners in the United States is terrible right now! Albeit it's slowly improving. Further, I can't recall ever seeing a public sector job opening where citizenship or permanent resident status was not a requirement. I agree on that point. I'm not so sure on the other. There are several Cyburbians who are hiring officials that may be able to provide insight about employment prospects for job applicants with a non-American planning degree. My guess is the degree will not be as important as professional experience. Look at allied professions for experience since even unpaid planning internships are hard to find. After a few years at a planning gig, where you received your planning degree will not matter, IMHO. Also, be aware that it may take longer to earn the AICP certification. I've never seen AICP as a hard requirement, but a lot of planners choose to pursue it.
    The content contrarian

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    It's a British planning degree. Plenty of people still don't know what American planners do let alone understand how city planning is done in other countries. I would approach the job search as if you had a completely unrelated degree and market your transferable skills. You should focus on building bridges between your BRITISH coursework and AMERICAN projects.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  4. #4
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    You stupid vile Americans with your coca cola drinks and Chevrolet automobiles how can you not see the superiority of the European degrees? Sure we con't have any of your fancy zoning or issues based upon capitalist ideals of not investing in infrastructure.

    Seriously though as others have pointed out the market sucks. In the past I have worked with people who have degrees from European universities, it was not that big of a deal. However when the job market dries up there are jobs for no one, even those who may have better opportunities to network than those who have gone to school abroad.

    The rationale given from the RTPI does not hold water in my experience. In fact, it seems as downright arrogant as my tongue in cheek comments in the first paragraph.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tay-j View post
    been applying for work all over the States, but I've yet to get any bites, I'm beginning to worry that US employers are put off by more than being non nationals, is it likely that having received my degree from a Non-American University that I'm going to have to settle for a position abroad?
    I don't have a need to hire planners, so can't really speak to it directly, but a planner in Denver who I respect greatly has a foreign accent (!) so IME here it is not impossible. I suspect the issue is more about four+ years of recent grad students from American schools are in line front of you, as well as plenty of laid-off American planners. As well as some small movement so other planners may be thinking of moving out of their doldrums. I don't see that line clearing any time soon, as austerity is happening at the state level on down, leaving fewer . I've heard of very few openings in these parts getting less than 100 apps (total, qualified or not).
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    As others have said, the job market is still rough in North America. You might have to resort to the time-honored "three and out" tradition of working for some community in the middle of nowhere to build your resume.

    Good planning principles are universal. However, as you're probably aware, the planning process is much different in the US (and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, with planning systems similar to that in the US). Comprehensive plans, zoning, state planning enabling laws, US case laws, all things that you might have to reacquaint yourself with. Invest in a copy of the Green Book (The Practice of Local Government Planning), and maybe a good New Urbanism-related text (I like New Urbanism: Best Practices Guide, even though the author dislikes Cyburbia ).
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    As others have said, the job market is still rough in North America. You might have to resort to the time-honored "three and out" tradition of working for some community in the middle of nowhere to build your resume.

    Good planning principles are universal. ...and maybe a good New Urbanism-related text (I like New Urbanism: Best Practices Guide, even though the author dislikes Cyburbia ).
    Small town start is a good idea, especially in our mountain towns. I'm not sure about going all in on a fad, though - not everyone is bought in to CNU's marketing literature. Jus' sayin'.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  8. #8
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    Thanks you everyone for the replies, it is somewhat heartening, somewhat depressing to know that I'm not the only one having a hard time finding employment. I'm set to move back to the United States next week, hopefully that will make the search easier, originally being from Utah I wouldn't mind working/living in the middle of nowhere or in a small mountain town. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions

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