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Thread: Real skills and knowledge for young planners

  1. #1
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    Real skills and knowledge for young planners

    I am starting this thread to hopefully gain some knowledge on what real skills and knowledge one should have entering the field. I realize that there are many ways you can look at it, and even the position of planner can differ across jurisdictions.
    Ideally this thread can be used for those with planning experience to share what they wish they knew, or what skills they wish they had honed, and skills they are glad they have and how they apply to the real world of planning. What can those of us that are coming into the field, or hope to do so shortly, do to make it easier for consistently good planning to exist. (and hopefully gain entry into the field)

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Software to learn

    A related thread on the software that you should learn when entering the field.

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=48138

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Frankly I think software skills are the most important thing I think young planners can learn. Most planning skills can only be taught through real life experience but software skills would be the exception to this. It's particularly helpful that many older planners either don't care to learn or are not current with the software which makes your skills all the more valuable.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    My vote for number one skill is writing. If you can communicate clearly and logically, you're golden. Learn to organize ideas. Learn grammar. Learn what kind of information is important to readers.

    I'll agree with Blide that software skills can be a good asset and give you a leg up over the oldies, I'll just caution that you shouldn't fall into the trap of focusing on a specific software brand or package. Learning the fine details of Photoshop isn't going to do anything for you at your local budget-strapped municipality. Learning how graphics packages work in theory (differences between vectors and rasters, etc.) and how to use the internet to figure out how to do a particular task will definitely help you.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Professional writing, grammer (Gen-Y'ers, you paying attention?), public speaking, and Microsoft Office. In learning public speaking, learn how to improvise if you need to. It helps you think on your feet when you're hit with something unexpected.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally posted by Coragus View post
    Professional writing, grammer (Gen-Y'ers, you paying attention?), public speaking, and Microsoft Office. In learning public speaking, learn how to improvise if you need to. It helps you think on your feet when you're hit with something unexpected.
    so, an improv class or something?? I mean, there's a thin line between thinking on your feet and appearing as a know-it-all when in fact your new and don;t know it all. And the older employees are peeved enough as it is last thing I want is for them to think I'm a know-it-all college kid

  7. #7
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by vinnie11 View post
    so, an improv class or something?? I mean, there's a thin line between thinking on your feet and appearing as a know-it-all when in fact your new and don;t know it all. And the older employees are peeved enough as it is last thing I want is for them to think I'm a know-it-all college kid
    I think the most important part is to try to understand your bounds. Saying that you don't know an answer, but will find it out, works much better than making something up and someone higher up having to fix something that shouldn't need to be fixed.

    I think the improvising point is really to be able to tell a story and get your perspective heard even through the yelling and other hurdles that might be thrown at you. Taking the criticism and making it positive is a skill. One that most planner's learn early on. Deflection is also helpful.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  8. #8
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    And that public speaking improvisation is really more about knowing your subject matter well. If you know your topic inside and out (ie theory, specific details, etc) then when you get the left field statement or question, you should be able to address it appropriately.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  9. #9
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    listening skills are key too - I have seen too many entry level planners not really listen to residents (or their colleagues/boss) and just merely wait their turn to speak - relax and take in the conversation - it's okay to inhale for a while before exhaling

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