Coming close to my 2 year anniversary from receiving my BURP degree and perhaps spending this past weekend on a beautiful college campus has inspired some nostalgia in me. I’ve noticed cyburbian members always have quite a bit to say when the topic of post graduate degrees is brought up. Why not throw my own life out there for all to weigh in; I’m not shy after all. There is no doubt in my mind that going out in the world right after school and learning about the realities of planning was a good decision. 2 years ago I was kicking myself for not getting an accounting degree. Now I find myself relieved that I stuck with planning because, honestly, I don’t think I would have the same passion for such a field (not knocking any accountants out there). In a very short time, I’ve worked in quite a few settings and seen a wide variety of organizational structures from MPOs to suburban to large scale cities. I also feel that the current job I have is one where I really can start to make a strong positive impact for my fair city.
So people would probably call me crazy to put a great job on hold and think about going back to school (in my mind I’m considering spring or fall 2014), but I’m not convinced it’s that bad of an idea in the long run. I understand that graduate school = loads of debt, but I am certain that if thought through well, the right graduate program will more than pay for itself. I am also certain that the longer I wait, the more likely I will face constraining commitments that inevitably come up (eg marriage, kids, etc). Right now I am single, willing to move wherever is best for my career, and very motivated.
Unfortunately the programs within my metropolitan area universities do not match my desired area of focus. I do have the option (something I am very seriously considering), of getting a nearly free education for the local MPA program while staying employed. However, that entails at least a 3 year commitment for a program that isn’t geared towards my interests (although it undoubtedly would assist my professional development, especially while working in a local government setting). There are a few great programs within my state (in other words affordable) that focus on what I am really trying to pursue, which is the design element of planning. My goal is to eventually find a position in a private planning firm where I can focus on finding ways to help cities improve design standards along with improving development code language. There are plenty of other facets of planning I enjoy but this is my specific interest. This might be an opportunity that comes before me through the natural course of things, but “might” is not the best way to plan IMO.
And so, to any of those willing to read through my long-winded rant, what say ye? Is my thought process still unrealistically optimistic? Am I thinking of going back to the campus setting far too soon or is now the time to strike when the iron is hot?