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Thread: International planning specializations

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    International planning specializations

    Hello, I'm new to Cyburbia and a MUP applicant for the next admission cycle.

    I'm intrigued by various program's international planning specializations, however, i've seen numerous posts here on Cyburbia about the prejudice against US planners in the international development planning field. Additionally, I wonder about the availability of US based jobs in international planning and also of the likelihood of being hired for jobs unrelated to intnl planning yet having concentrated in the field in grad school.

    I know some schools are better connected to development organizations, MIT, NYU, etc. but schools like UCLA and USC also offer international specializations yet I have spoken to grads of those schools (USC, UCLA) who indicated that the intnl concentrations are weak. I should also note that those students did not concentrate in intnl planning.

    Edited: Another issue: are the intnl planning jobs concentrated in certain areas such as NYC, D.C.,?

    I would really appreciate any thoughts any of you might have! Thank you in advance :-)

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Go to a big border town and go to school there. There is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to figuring out how to plan internationally. You should be looking in San Diego, Detroit, or Buffalo.

    My advice would be poor if you have dreams of finding a job say in Singapore or Poland, but when I hear international planning I think of issues dealing with trade and commerce at borders.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Think of it this way. Say a foreign national earned a MUP or equivalent, with a concentration in American planning, from one of the top universities in their country. That person will find it nearly impossible to find employment here in American because he is not a permanent resident or citizen, potential employers may will choose not to recognize the degree, and the lack of relevant work experience.

    My grad program had a specialization in international development, and a number of grads went off to the Peace Corps. Most found jobs in planning or allied professions here in the states. I'm only aware of one that ended up permanently moving aboard, but she was not an American citizen and the work was non-planning related. Another gets to occasionally travel across the world by working for a contractor for the State Department. She is based in D.C., and is an alumnus of the Peace Corps (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) before finishing grad school.

    Having said that, it's by no means impossible for an American to find a foreign planning job. Schools may be overemphasized the international development specialization. By its self, it doesn't mean anything to potential employers. What matters is experience. Peace Corps would be a great way to gain international experience, which would then open the doors to NGOs and consultants working internationally. Another would be military civilian jobs.

    There are a number of planners working internationally on the Cyburbian forms that may offer a different perspective on the best route to international work. Good luck!
    The content contrarian

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2008
    Location
    London, England
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    Hi and welcome. You started an interesting post and I'd be interested in hearing others thoughts on this.

    In my (international) experience there is some prejudice against US planners in Europe, but Asia seemed rather welcoming. I worked in China for a year and have worked in Europe for the past three years. It took a long time to get set-up in Europe and I don't think it would have been possible without studying here. Many international development agencies (World Bank, UN, EBRD, etc.) have extremely competitive competition schemes for places. Having US degree from MIT or NYU would certainly make you more desirable, but just be prepared for let-down when applying for posts abroad. Even with a stellar degree like MIT, Harvard or NYU.

    All that said, it is possible. Probably best to find a geographic area you're interested in (i.e. Europe, South America, Asia, etc.), get your qualifications, focus your specialization on that region and start establishing international contacts early. If determined enough you'll certainly find a position internationally. Also, if you're exploring degrees, don't limit yourself to US universities, think about studying in the international region you're interested in. A risk certainly if you want to return to the US, but will certainly make your application more desirable locally (plus you'll make a lot more location based contacts). Oh and visas are important - only of the biggest immediate refusals when applying internationally.

    Best of luck!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Sep 2012
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    Los Angeles, CA
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    Thank you all for replying, you've given me a lot to think about: border towns, peace corps, attending university abroad.

    I am definitely interested in study abroad options in graduate school, but I'm not sure how practical that would be.

    Because tuition and the cost of living is so high, and the economy/jobs situation is so difficult, I feel I need to be very cautious about every single decision that I make. :/

  6. #6
    Member
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    Define: International Planning

    Can you please expatiate on your statement: "I'm intrigued by various program's international planning specializations." What intrigues you about them? Several programs offer coursework through an international lens, but you should find your niche and find what schools offer pertinent courses. Departments can shift their "specializations" to match the work that their faculty is undertaking; therefore, I recommend you pay close attention to the current research of faculty and determine whether it is a good fit for you. Additionally, make note of what other resources are available to you at a given university. This broad field can be complemented by other departments on university campuses- it is to your advantage to utilize those resources.

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