Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Advice for a soon-to-be-graduating undergrad

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    2

    Advice for a soon-to-be-graduating undergrad

    Hello all,

    I'm starting to plan for life post-graduation and would really like your opinions. I'm trying to decide between getting 1-2 years of work experience and going to grad school for a Masters in Urban Planning. Currently, I'm enrolled in a liberal arts college with a major in Urban Studies, graduating Dec 2013. The program focuses more on urban theory, history, social issues so I don't really have any skills so to speak, though I will be taking a GIS class this spring. I'm pretty worried about going to grad school straight after college because I'm not 100% certain that urban planning / consulting will be what I want to do in the future, and I'm not sure if a Masters in Urban Planning would allow me to take on jobs in other areas. At the same time, based on my experience in searching for internships, plenty of urban planning firms are looking for interns with design / engineering backgrounds, which I don't have.

    In your experience or in your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of working / interning after college before going to grad school vs going straight to grad school?
    How 'transferable' is a Masters in Urban Planning?

    I'm also researching grad schools and trying to find programs that fit my interests. I'm looking at schools in or very close to large cities because that's the type of environment I prefer. Does anyone have suggestions for such schools that are also more internationally-oriented, rather than being primarily focused on the American context, with strong programs in international planning / housing + community planning? I'm a little more interested in the policy-making, social issues side of things, though I do want to learn physical planning skills as well.

    I'll really appreciate your opinions and suggestions!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Wherever
    Posts
    1,181
    Quote Originally posted by charlotte22 View post
    In your experience or in your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of working / interning after college before going to grad school vs going straight to grad school?
    How 'transferable' is a Masters in Urban Planning?
    The only down side to working / interning after undergrad is that it could be extremely difficult to find a job. As for transferability, that all depends on what you want to do. In general though, planning is a pretty broad field that's qualifies you for many positions but there's likely to always be another degree that's better if you're interested in specializing. For instance, if you're interested in working internationally, an international development degree might be more helpful but a planning degree certainly won't disqualify you. The only similar degree to planning that may have more transferability would be an MPA.

    I'm also researching grad schools and trying to find programs that fit my interests. I'm looking at schools in or very close to large cities because that's the type of environment I prefer. Does anyone have suggestions for such schools that are also more internationally-oriented, rather than being primarily focused on the American context, with strong programs in international planning / housing + community planning? I'm a little more interested in the policy-making, social issues side of things, though I do want to learn physical planning skills as well.
    I'm not sure how helpful the international focus is unless you somehow get an opportunity to utilize it which is something a lot of people in those programs never get a chance to do. For that reason, I'd look into some Masters International programs that incorporate Peace Corps service into the curriculum. I think something like that would open up more opportunities in international planning than just going to an internationally focused program.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,391
    Quote Originally posted by charlotte22 View post
    Hello all,

    I'm starting to plan for life post-graduation and would really like your opinions. I'm trying to decide between getting 1-2 years of work experience and going to grad school for a Masters in Urban Planning. Currently, I'm enrolled in a liberal arts college with a major in Urban Studies, graduating Dec 2013. The program focuses more on urban theory, history, social issues so I don't really have any skills so to speak, though I will be taking a GIS class this spring. I'm pretty worried about going to grad school straight after college because I'm not 100% certain that urban planning / consulting will be what I want to do in the future, and I'm not sure if a Masters in Urban Planning would allow me to take on jobs in other areas. At the same time, based on my experience in searching for internships, plenty of urban planning firms are looking for interns with design / engineering backgrounds, which I don't have.

    In your experience or in your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of working / interning after college before going to grad school vs going straight to grad school?
    How 'transferable' is a Masters in Urban Planning?

    I'm also researching grad schools and trying to find programs that fit my interests. I'm looking at schools in or very close to large cities because that's the type of environment I prefer. Does anyone have suggestions for such schools that are also more internationally-oriented, rather than being primarily focused on the American context, with strong programs in international planning / housing + community planning? I'm a little more interested in the policy-making, social issues side of things, though I do want to learn physical planning skills as well.

    I'll really appreciate your opinions and suggestions!
    Plenty of threads on this board discussing exactly the same thing: what Blide said and that internships are really low-paid positions for experienced planners these days, as the field is hammered hard.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    744
    It is still possible for pre-professional BAs with the right skills to get good, paying internships. Just make it clear that your intention is to go back to grad school imminently. Evidence of decent presentation, general graphics sense, writing and speaking skills, and a good analytical and numbers sense are also sought after. Also, it's important to have solid platform skills going in these days... for us, that means, at a minimum, you know the adobe CS product suite and MS Office product suite very well and can jump into translating notes, diagrams, drawings,etc, into books and presentations, quickly. Basic HTML and other web programming skills are also beneficial. GIS, CAD and 3d modelling skills would also be selling points but many non-professional undergrads won't have those skills at sufficient proficiency.

    The reasoning is that if you have these skills we can focus our effort on training you on substantive issues - analysis, precedent research, etc, without having to also take the time to train you on the basics.. such as how to write and then place text and associated images into reports or post them onto a website.

    Have those skills, and you shouldn't have too much of a problem with internships... at least at private sector firms and not-for-profits. I don't know too much about the public sector.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,558
    Quote Originally posted by charlotte22 View post
    Hello all,

    I'm starting to plan for life post-graduation and would really like your opinions. I'm trying to decide between getting 1-2 years of work experience and going to grad school for a Masters in Urban Planning. Currently, I'm enrolled in a liberal arts college with a major in Urban Studies, graduating Dec 2013. The program focuses more on urban theory, history, social issues so I don't really have any skills so to speak, though I will be taking a GIS class this spring. I'm pretty worried about going to grad school straight after college because I'm not 100% certain that urban planning / consulting will be what I want to do in the future, and I'm not sure if a Masters in Urban Planning would allow me to take on jobs in other areas. At the same time, based on my experience in searching for internships, plenty of urban planning firms are looking for interns with design / engineering backgrounds, which I don't have.

    In your experience or in your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of working / interning after college before going to grad school vs going straight to grad school?
    How 'transferable' is a Masters in Urban Planning?

    I'm also researching grad schools and trying to find programs that fit my interests. I'm looking at schools in or very close to large cities because that's the type of environment I prefer. Does anyone have suggestions for such schools that are also more internationally-oriented, rather than being primarily focused on the American context, with strong programs in international planning / housing + community planning? I'm a little more interested in the policy-making, social issues side of things, though I do want to learn physical planning skills as well.

    I'll really appreciate your opinions and suggestions!
    Welcome to Cyburbia! If you want to focus on international policy and planning then join the Peace Corps or try to find work with a UN affiliated NGO. Another option is check out US AID but most of their staff have worked overseas. If you want to work as a planner then your best bet is focus on getting an internship before you graduate and start looking for positions in rural parts of the country. Large cities are choked with under and unemployed planners and tons of college graduates looking for work. I am not saying don't try to compete but you will be up against people with several years of work experience and masters degrees. As mentioned these boards have several threads about recent grads struggling to find work. You are in a better position since you have a year before you graduate.

    From what I have heard most companies are shying away from after college internships. DOL has cracked down on free work programs so many employers would rather go through a college or hire someone.

    Best of luck!
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    2
    Thanks for all your suggestions and advice, they've definitely given me something to think about!

    I forgot to add that I'm an international student, which complicates things further in terms of employment possibilities, though I am eligible for a paid position for up to a year after my graduation with my student visa. What this also means is that as exciting as the Peace Corps is, I am unfortunately ineligible for employment because my country isn't one of the host countries either! I am hoping to utilize this opportunity to work in the States for a year and hopefully gain some work experience in the urban planning since such opportunities don't come by particularly easily, especially in this economy and without much professional experience either. However, from what I've been reading on various other threads and from your responses, it looks like the chances of things working out doesn't look too promising.

    In terms of grad school programs, I'm interested in at the very least being exposed to more international cities and case studies because I haven't really had that opportunity to analyze international cities as my undergrad program has been rather American-centric. While it's great to learn about American cities, it seems a little strange to neglect all the exciting projects, plans, policies and things going on in cities all over the world, especially those in developing countries, hence my desire to find grad school programs that have a better balance, rather than being overly American-focused.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by charlotte22 View post
    In terms of grad school programs, I'm interested in at the very least being exposed to more international cities and case studies because I haven't really had that opportunity to analyze international cities as my undergrad program has been rather American-centric. While it's great to learn about American cities, it seems a little strange to neglect all the exciting projects, plans, policies and things going on in cities all over the world, especially those in developing countries, hence my desire to find grad school programs that have a better balance, rather than being overly American-focused.
    I'm aware of at least one grad school that has a planning specialization in "developing areas." The same school will occasionally offer a semester long capstone in a Latin American country. There are probably several U.S. schools that have a track for international planning, but I'm unaware of any formal listings of these programs.
    The content contrarian

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Vancity's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    921
    A school in Canada has a specialization called "comparative development planning" which is focused on planning for developing countries: "The study of socioeconomic change or development in international comparative perspective"

    http://www.scarp.ubc.ca/content/AOC-...pment-Planning

    Kind of sounds like what you're looking for, maybe you can find something like that in the States.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 1
    Last post: 05 Jun 2012, 10:47 AM
  2. Replies: 6
    Last post: 06 Sep 2011, 12:04 PM
  3. Undergrad advice
    Student Commons
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 21 Aug 2011, 2:04 AM
  4. Replies: 8
    Last post: 10 Jan 2011, 5:27 PM
  5. Advice for an undergrad?
    Student Commons
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 04 Aug 2005, 4:30 PM