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Thread: BA Environmental Science... Making the leap to planning.. in NYC

  1. #1
    Jan 2015
    albany, ny

    BA Environmental Science... Making the leap to planning.. in NYC

    Hello everyone,

    New to the thread! Can't believe I didn't find this sooner.

    I'm sure I might be repeating an already existing thread, however I was hoping to gather some help specifically catered to my situation. I just recently graduated from SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, NY with a degree in Environmental Science. With a minor in Urban Environment and took as many planning classes as I could.

    I'm looking to start my career in Environmental Planning, ideally in New York City. Currently reside in Albany, NY.

    Unfortunately I am having a hard time getting over the entry level hump, gaining any traction or getting noticed by any of the planning or consulting firms in NYC and was hoping that I could get some advice/tips/etc. on what I could do to help my situation. Somewhat on the fence of whether I should go back to school for my masters in MURP or just keep trucking away at the job scene.

    Any and all advice is greatly appreciated, thanks!!

  2. #2
    Jan 2013
    You could volunteer for a while, if you can afford to work for free... to get the type of experience you need.

  3. #3

    Check NYC Agencies

    Beyond the obvious, Department of City Planning, most other Agencies use planners. Check jobs at nyc.gov

  4. #4
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
    Feb 2009
    The Old Dominion
    What kind of environmental planning do you want to do exactly?

    To some people, "environmental planning" specifically means working in the NEPA world of EAs and EISs. That requires some specialized experience typically, although some firms will bring entry-level folks on as a researcher or intern. If that's the angle you're looking for, I recommend learning as much as you can about NEPA and those processes so you can speak knowledgeably in cover letters and interviews. I know many people that have entered that realm with backgrounds in Envi Sci, Biology, Ecology, etc.

    If you mean "environmental planning" in a more general sense, like watershed-sensitive design or green infrastructure or sustainability planning, that will be a harder world for you to penetrate with just an Envi Sci background, especially in NYC. You may need to expand your search area or be willing to take on low paying internships to get your foot in the door, and even then you are likely to be competing with folks coming out of planning, landscape architecture, and other dedicated programs with a clearer link to the work. You might also look at tangential but related fields to edge your way in. For example, I know people who have started in community gardens and used that as an angle to get into food systems planning or urban agriculture. You can volunteer for organizations that do community design and try to get your foot in the door that way, or at least make sure that's the direction you want to take.

    Honestly, to be competitive in NYC or any larger city in this field, you're likely to need a MURP or MLA. At that point, the combination of your BS and your masters will put you in a much better position career-wise to pursue environmental planning jobs. Although... I wouldn't recommend going down that path unless you're absolutely sure that's what you want to do, which is where some level of professional experience is really helpful. I hope this helps.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  5. #5
    Aug 2016
    Northern California
    Its true that Landscape Architects are trained for environmentally sensitive designs (green infrastructure, etc.), but unless you want to work as a Landscape Architect (wouldn't recommend), then just go for the MCP/MURP. Faster, cheaper, easier program, and more jobs available at graduation.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Aug 2005
    in a meeting
    Hi - I am also a SUNY/ESF grad (go SU!) in ES but from way back in 1986! I work now as a director of planning and development in Maine.

    I started out in drafting (with pencils), then permitting for the private sector, then advanced into campus planning. I then went into muncipal planning doing permitting, both environmental and development and kept working up the ladder.

    I think the key is to get in the door and do anything you can, parks department even, and work your way up the food chain to what you want.

    Feel free to PM me as I am always happy to help out a fellow stumpie

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