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Thread: No Idea What I'm Doing

  1. #1

    No Idea What I'm Doing

    Hey all,

    I'm hoping to find some helpful information regarding careers/jobs in cities, as I'm super confused right now about what I want to do after college.

    First, some background information - I'm currently pursuing a BFA in Art/Design (my emphasis is in photography), and I'm also getting a certificate in Digital Arts and Culture. Ideally, I would like to get some kind of creative arts job after college, but I'm a little concerned that it might be extremely difficult to find a job like that. I'm also extremely interested in urban spaces and think something to do with that could be a great fit for me. I'm not sure exactly what I would want to do though.

    Reasons why I think a career in urban areas could be good - I've taken a few urban studies and urban geography classes in school, and have enjoyed them and found the content to be interesting. In my free time, I often read about different cities and use street view on Google Maps to see other cities all the time. When I am able to visit other large cities in person, I love experiencing/exploring different neighborhoods.

    So essentially, I'm practically equally interested in urban development as I am in art. However, urban planning as a career is a huge turn off for me because I'm not interested at all in politics or laws, and I hate how slow moving the process seems. I'm also not interested in working in the non-profit sector much. I'm more interested in the physical space and experience than I am in city people and their issues. I've been doing a little reading about real estate, and that area actually seems to interest me a bit since one of my biggest interests is neighborhoods. I love reading about various neighborhoods and imagining where I would want to live if I moved to a certain city. When I'm bored, sometimes I draw out an imaginary city map and then section off neighborhoods and mark what areas would be trendy, artistic, middle class, young professionals, etc. I'm also interested in architecture/interior design quite a bit. I actually intended to go to college for architecture toward the end of high school, but eventually lost interest in it as a career. I am still interested in it in a general sense though. I also like reading interior design blogs like Apartment Therapy. So these interests also seem like they would fit into the real estate business a little bit.

    I only have 3 semesters of undergrad left, and don't really want to extend that. I considered a second major in Urban Studies but am unsure if it will be beneficial and I would have to stay in undergrad longer. Grad school could potentially be an option, but I'd prefer not to go in right away due to big financial limitations. Does it sound like some sort of real estate career could be good for me? What sort of education would I need? Any other ideas for potential careers? Any input is highly appreciated so I can hopefully stop stressing out about life!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Real estate does not require college training, though in most places you will need to get a licence and keep it current by taking additional classes.

    What it does require is the ability to listen and to speak effectively. It also requires the ability to stay on top of current trends in the marketplace such as costs.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Kingmak's avatar
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    I don't think you're interested in urban development, but more urban form. I would think you'd enjoy social geographies and conveying that information through graphics (ArcMap, Illustrator, etc.).
    "The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them." - Paul Hawken

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    You are all over the map, no pun intended. Keep it simple and go buy Sim City.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by seisky View post

    Reasons why I think a career in urban areas could be good - I've taken a few urban studies and urban geography classes in school, and have enjoyed them and found the content to be interesting. In my free time, I often read about different cities and use street view on Google Maps to see other cities all the time. When I am able to visit other large cities in person, I love experiencing/exploring different neighborhoods.

    So essentially, I'm practically equally interested in urban development as I am in art. !
    Well, even though human population continues to grow, economic growth does not. That is a problem in real estate. I suggest you read the thousands of threads just like yours with the search function. Sim City might be a good option,
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  6. #6

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Loving the urban form and experiencing cities is one thing. Being a planner is another.
    Exactly, which is why I already said I'm not at all interested in being a planner.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Bear II in the making? Visit Paducah, KY or a simlar town that embraces the arts.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I would imagine that some of the bigger urban planning/urban design consulting firms hire individuals with artistic skills from time to time for work on their reports. I suppose some computer graphics courses would be useful in this reagrd. You wouldn't be doing the planning itself, but would be illustrating it.

    People with such firms might tell you I am wrong about all this, though.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Your interests are as varied as mine, or probably most of Cyburbians. Don't be too discouraged by your perceptions of planning as slow or tied up in politics. Is is not always that way, and the field is so varied that you may never have to deal with that on a regular basis - at least not more than any other profession. But if you really want to make design your emphasis, you might consider landscape architecture.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Loving the urban form and experiencing cities is one thing. Being a planner is another.
    So true. A solid design background would be the most helpful for you moving forward. Landscape Architecture or Architecture for grad school aligns with your interests mosts...or some kind of Graphic Design. You are looking at a very small niche, one you may need to create yourself through a blog or freelance. Being a planner is a way that people who love cities, development, etc become gainfully employed and impact that environment, as you know great places don't pop up over night. Sometimes I get to go out and take photos for small projects and I edit them...its a fun distraction .
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    My old firm used to hire "freelancers" to render very large, complex sketches that did not have the budget for an LA and Urban Planner to work on for days on end. It's a niche but can work.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Don't be too discouraged by your perceptions of planning as slow or tied up in politics. Is is not always that way, and the field is so varied that you may never have to deal with that on a regular basis - ... if you really want to make design your emphasis, you might consider landscape architecture.
    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    Landscape Architecture or Architecture for grad school aligns with your interests mosts...or some kind of Graphic Design. You are looking at a very small niche, one you may need to create yourself through a blog or freelance. Being a planner is a way that people who love cities, development, etc become gainfully employed and impact that environment, as you know great places don't pop up over night. Sometimes I get to go out and take photos for small projects and I edit them...its a fun distraction .
    After I was in the profession for a while,. I stopped thining planning was creative. Only on occasion. And the LArch and Arch professions are as hammered as we are. Aside from the fact that the LArch profession has lost its way wrt plant material.

    GIS may be a way to go, as it allows for creativity and graphic output. There will be a small demand for that for several more years until some robot program replaces those humans too.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  14. #14
    I'm normally one to strongly encourage folks to pursue a degree in planning if that is their dream, but OP sounds like he's lost. There is no harm in taking some timeout. Maybe backpack across Europe after finishing undergrad. Figure out what you want to do in life and refocus.

    I would not recommend real estate based on your interests. Real estate is a subset of business. It's technical and finance intensive. The design stuff is left to the architects and designers. The latter is probably where your interests lie.
    The content contrarian

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Just because someone show's interest/curiosity in urban forum and spatial relationships does not mean he/she should pursue a career in design/LA. If I put a pad of trace paper and a pen in the OP's hand and tell him/her to draw the first thing that comes to mind regarding cities, I'm not sure what I would see. You can't mix lettuce with car parts and get a good salad.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    If I put a pad of trace paper and a pen in the OP's hand and tell him/her to draw the first thing that comes to mind regarding cities
    Wasn't this a question at my last job interview?
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Raf View post
    Off-topic:


    Wasn't this a question at my last job interview?
    Well, so many planners talk and talk and talk about good form, street organization, lot design, and yet give them a pad of paper and pen they can't convey their thoughts in a quick sketch. It just baffles me. You can't convey site design by descriptive writing. Then again, I can't hand draft a grant application or a fiscal impact analysis or survey statistics.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  18. #18
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Well, so many planners talk and talk and talk about good form, street organization, lot design, and yet give them a pad of paper and pen they can't convey their thoughts in a quick sketch. It just baffles me. You can't convey site design by descriptive writing. Then again, I can't hand draft a grant application or a fiscal impact analysis or survey statistics.
    Totally agree. If you are working with the public - esp at the counter - and can communicate with a few lines, you're way ahead of the game.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Well, so many planners talk and talk and talk about good form, street organization, lot design, and yet give them a pad of paper and pen they can't convey their thoughts in a quick sketch. It just baffles me. You can't convey site design by descriptive writing. Then again, I can't hand draft a grant application or a fiscal impact analysis or survey statistics.
    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    Totally agree. If you are working with the public - esp at the counter - and can communicate with a few lines, you're way ahead of the game.
    Planners are often criticized for not having enough design sense. I agree with that. The "I know good design when I see it" mentality is not enough. Planners have to be sort of good at many things, especially in the public sector when you are part of a small department. I have some artistic talent naturally, but in grad school I took some design classes to get better. I have learned photo shop on my own and I am often doing small design projects for my community or sketching out ideas for applicants. Being able to do sketches takes practice and you can't be afraid to jump in when you get a chance to draw something!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  20. #20
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    Planners are often criticized for not having enough design sense. I agree with that. The "I know good design when I see it" mentality is not enough. Planners have to be sort of good at many things, especially in the public sector when you are part of a small department. I have some artistic talent naturally, but in grad school I took some design classes to get better. I have learned photo shop on my own and I am often doing small design projects for my community or sketching out ideas for applicants. Being able to do sketches takes practice and you can't be afraid to jump in when you get a chance to draw something!
    I don't know what it is, but people calm down and listen after they see I can communicate effectively with just a few lines on paper. It helps me a lot. I've never asked, but I think it takes me out from behind the faceless technocrat facade. My presentations also are strongly tilted toward good design and visual communication, and I get a lot of good feedback. Design and visual communication matters, plus, I eschew PowerPoint whenever possible, although I had to use it today so I made sure some good .skb renderings took the 'death by PowerPoint' away.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    Planners have to be sort of good at many things, especially in the public sector when you are part of a small department. I have some artistic talent naturally, but in grad school I took some design classes to get better. I have learned photo shop on my own and I am often doing small design projects for my community or sketching out ideas for applicants. Being able to do sketches takes practice and you can't be afraid to jump in when you get a chance to draw something!
    Agreed that planners that deal directly with the design and regulation of design of the built environment should have a good understanding of design, and some actual design talent and background as well. Other planners may do different things that don't require those skills. Believe it or not, it's the same with architects. I know plenty of architects who don't have much design sense or capability.. but hopefully they're acting as project managers, get involved in detailed design, run digital design platforms, handle materials and building technology systems, deal with contractors, etc., and are not the one developing the parti for buildings! That would be scary.. if you have non-design architects designing the building and a non-design regulatory planner reviewing that same building or creating the guidelines for it! Well, actually, just look at any American suburb, now that I think about it...

    My point is that somebody out there needs to be able to design something, or the hilarity (that is much of the American built environment, I fear) ensues.... The combination of architects that don't know how to design and planners who refuse to design explains much of what we see out there...

  22. #22
    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    I don't know what it is, but people calm down and listen after they see I can communicate effectively with just a few lines on paper. It helps me a lot. I've never asked, but I think it takes me out from behind the faceless technocrat facade. My presentations also are strongly tilted toward good design and visual communication, and I get a lot of good feedback. Design and visual communication matters, plus, I eschew PowerPoint whenever possible, although I had to use it today so I made sure some good .skb renderings took the 'death by PowerPoint' away.
    Drawing is the true universal language, that's why.

  23. #23
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    Urban design

    Looking at your interest, i think urban design is the way choose, as it combines arts and policies together.So,you'll have both the technical and artistic side in your daily works. Its more of a fusion of planning and design to shape the built environment. Often when urban designers will have to present a preliminary concept,the best way for presenting will be hand drawings and paintings and then will come the digital graphics and 3d models..I strongly advise you to have a look at an MA in Urban Design,as i share the same passion as you and am sure you will love it!

    Cheers

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    To the OP --

    Don't pay attention to the negative folks and the ones directing you to a video game. You came to this forum and asked a sincere question, and I regret that so few sincere answers have been offered.

    Have you considered using your university's resources (career counseling, perhaps) to arrange visits with design professionals representing various fields? When I was getting ready for grad school, I used the university's contacts to explore different subfields within planning. I was able to meet with economic development planners, land use planners, historic preservation planners, etc. Those discussions helped me pick a concentration (housing and community development), which has served me well in my career. You may well benefit from spending a few hours with a landscape architect, an architect, an urban designer, etc. Just today, two undergrads interested in urban planning spent the day in our office. It happens frequently.

    Good luck!

  25. #25
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Drawing is the true universal language, that's why.
    The OP can draw their confusion!



    Thank you Xaxor.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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