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Thread: Left position with very large developer for rural planning position

  1. #1

    Left position with very large developer for rural planning position

    Hello,

    I left a position with a very large developer in the rapidly growing Colorado area (ignore username, I went to school in Michigan). I loved the job, it was my dream position, but the pay was about 10-15% lower than the average for other grads from my profession. I recently left in November to take a 27% pay increase as a planner in a rural County, but am having a very hard time adjusting from the urban planning position I was used too. Is this normal to have a hard time adjusting from a very urban to rural setting. I have really surprised myself in terms of what I find important in a workplace, daily responsibilities and working with people that I identify with. In the rural area that I work, I find that I cannot identify with the other people in the office and miss working on the greenfield developments I was a part of in and around Denver.

    Should I stick it out for a while or look to go back to a more urban position? The other issue is that I am not sure whether it is a circumstance of being rural or just not being accustomed to working as a government planner. I worked for the large private developer for 18 months (summer internship, then part-time through my masters and finally as a full-time Development Manager). I'm not sure whether I should see how I adjust, try going to an urban government, or wait until I can rejoin with another developer. The other issue is that I'm not sure if it is because I loved my previous team and work environment that I was a part of before. The only reason I really left was for the 25k pay increase which seems awful and selfish now, but I had major financial concerns at the time.

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Money is not what makes a job. The job itself will sustain you. Money is important. It helps you get through days that are hard, but in general, money comes with experience. If you hate your job, find one that you love. If you love it, I would keep it until you find something that suits you even better.

    It seems that you have learned the lesson the hard way, but at least you know what you like now. No one was going to convince you of that before you had a go at it. Now you know. Take that knowledge and get yourself happy. Money is the icing on the cake. You have to do this everyday. You have to stay sane. You don't have to love it to deal with it, but you can't hate it. That will eat you alive.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    You made two big changes. 1 going from private to public. It's a different world. 2, you went from city to rural. I've never worked enough private sector jobs outside my internship so I want pretend to give advice on how to cope other than to say don't buy drinks on the city credit card like one of my previous bosses. On the change to rural, get used to a slower pace, no exciting jobs like greenfields or LEED stuff. In fact, get the idea that those are a waste of time and money which is what most residents will tell you (at least where I am). You have to look at the less exciting stuff as a blessing. I now longer work as hard, but I do miss having interesting projects. Speaking of which, you have to make interesting happen. I'm getting in with a team doing food systems planning, don't know if it'll go anywhere, but it might be fun. Another thing, change your attitude towards codes. I had to learn to adapt from places that accept things like varying setbacks and aesthetic codes to a place that thinks junk cars in the yard is perfectly fine. To deal with the other employees, just remember that they are enjoying life. This is their town, they make a decent living, and go home to family. They don't revolve around work. I'd give it a little time, but if you're not liking it, keep that resume ready for the right job to come along. For me, I'm enjoying the slow pace so I can watch my kids grow up, but I still have a resume ready. I just need to get a little more equity in my house before I'm ready to move.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    If I can ask, what're your responsibilities at the new position? Presumably, you were well qualified for it if they hired you. It sounds like you had an entry level DPM position at the developer .. Which normally doesn't pay that well and where advance,met can be rather slow. And you parlayed that into a more senior staff planner position at the county. This isn't an illogical progression.. Especially if the developer was a suburban home builder. If you're working with LAFCO issues, and land conversion issues, then getting back to the,private sector at a more senior level after a few years, at a more senior position, might be possible. Unfortunately, sometimes leaving a position is the only wat to advance more quickly.

  5. #5

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    Good Luck with this!

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Unfortunately, sometimes leaving a position is the only wat to advance more quickly.
    This has been my experience. I came into the planning world just before the bust. Then again I also went to graduate school after I already had significant work experience so when I returned to the workforce full time I took a more senior position. I totally relate to the urban vs rural dilemma. I am facing that issue myself. You need to figure out what will make you the most satisfied. That can sometimes take time. You are gaining experience in your current position just be a little patience. The market appears to be moving so the right job will come along.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    If you are disappointed on the amount of work, that's probably the change to rural planning. Also, you won't have many of the "cool" projects to work on like urban areas.
    If you are disappointed that you're not designing the project and just reviewing it, that's the change from private to public.

    On the bright side, I get to mock the others that I have very few night meetings and I go home every day at 5.
    Like I said, great for raising the family, but I get bored by not being challenged in the way I want. My challenges seem to be more bogus lawsuit driven or learning to regulate things without a lot of regulations. It's the price of being a one man show. On the plus side, it will definitely boost my career like the others said. After a few years in a rural county I will have dealt with more aspects of government than many of the planners like hands on code enforcement, floodplains, and any crap that gets thrown our way. Great for public sector planning.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm

    I took a similar path through a much longer route.....Denver area to Florida to Arizona (rural). I did well in rural planning because I had done it before (in Colorado). But I do find myself wishing I'd been a part of all the great urban planning in Denver over the last 12 years The places I've worked and lived (includes states) since then don't even come close in both practice and community support.

    The real danger of going from true urban to true rural is not being able to get back because you may get pigeonholed (if you stay too long).
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  9. #9
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    I took a similar path through a much longer route.....Denver area to Florida to Arizona (rural). I did well in rural planning because I had done it before (in Colorado). But I do find myself wishing I'd been a part of all the great urban planning in Denver over the last 12 years The places I've worked and lived (includes states) since then don't even come close in both practice and community support.

    The real danger of going from true urban to true rural is not being able to get back because you may get pigeonholed (if you stay too long).
    True! My plan is to stay a maximum of 5 years to get the "management" experience for the resume and then move into a senior position in either a small town or larger suburb. If you stay to long they figure you have no experience in their "big city" ways and figure you're just another redneck they don't want to take a chance with. I think I'm fortunate to have some big suburb experience to carry a little practical knowledge.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    I also moved from an urban agency to a suburban/rural one, though my reasons were more personal (moved to a different city for family reasons). Since the move I've ended up with a higher salary and position than I would have if I had stayed in my previous position, but I have the exact same concerns as you. After nearly four years here I feel out of place, and I do not enjoy the work. Originally I was excited and hopeful that I could advance the planning efforts of this community, which had very little leadership until now. Unfortunately I've found that I really don't have a chance of cracking the good ole boys club mentality, so I'm trying to move on. I am very concerned about being pigeon-holed as a suburban/rural planner like others have said, but I'm also hoping that this experience will give me an advantage over some planners who may not have had to wear so many hats. If there's one good thing about this place, it's that I have learned a lot more than I would have in my previous position.

    Knowing that others have had similar issues is encouraging. Hopefully you can learn as much as possible in your current position and use it as a springboard into something better. That's what I'm trying to do.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Yes, it's hard to talk about advancing planning efforts in a community that doesn't understand the need for setbacks let alone actual zones, but we know it's all a UN conspiracy to control the people anyway.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Eighteen months is not a long time to be working in any setting. Aside from that, you could find the changes/challenges to have more to do with the organization rather than the environment. Stick it out for a while, learn from it, and then decide your next steps. As others have suggested, you are likely to experience many different settings over your career.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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