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Thread: Urban studies major, but no desire to become an urban planner: options?

  1. #1
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    Urban studies major, but no desire to become an urban planner: options?

    Hello all,

    I am a senior and am majoring in Urban Studies. I've had two internships that I disliked: one in urban design at an architecture firm and one in public relations and outreach (working with community organizations to encourage more local participation and tourism in the city) at a small government agency. I hated both - urban development really isn't right for me. I'm not really a designer - I am not really artistically creative. I'm not of a community advocate or public relations type either. The people whom I worked with in community development were more interested in advancing politically rather than ever creating sustainable and livable cities. Lots of admirable projects started that were never finished because people were more concerned with showing off the mayor or non-profits and NGOs in town that they were always "doing" something new and creative. I am not sure if it's my town's environment or it's a problem across urban development.

    I'm not really sure where to go from here. I'm quite different from a traditional Urban Studies major. I have coursework in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Environmental Science, Math (up to Calculus III), and Economics that I took on my own (not part of Gen Ed or major requirements). I''m intermediate in GIS - not quite advanced yet. I have minimal IT experience and cyber security. I am fluent in Vietnamese and advanced in French. I know that I like field work more than sitting in an office.

    Any advice would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    A couple of options out of many things you can consider:

    Quote Originally posted by jenniferconn View post
    I have coursework in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Environmental Science, Math (up to Calculus III), and Economics that I took on my own (not part of Gen Ed or major requirements). I''m intermediate in GIS - not quite advanced yet....I know that I like field work more than sitting in an office.
    That sounds like a good background for getting into NEPA work, which can involve a good amount of fieldwork.

    Quote Originally posted by jenniferconn View post
    I am fluent in Vietnamese and advanced in French.
    https://www.usaid.gov/

    Like I said, just two of many options...
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    From your extracurriculars (I also have a double minor in biology and chemistry), public health / epidemiology may be a good route for you. You also mentioned you enjoyed field work, so going the project manager route in private sector development may interest you as well.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jenniferconn View post
    The people whom I worked with in community development were more interested in advancing politically rather than ever creating sustainable and livable cities. Lots of admirable projects started that were never finished because people were more concerned with showing off the mayor or non-profits and NGOs in town that they were always "doing" something new and creative. I am not sure if it's my town's environment or it's a problem across urban development.
    Working for a local government, I don't even get to start thinking about new projects really. It's much more review/policy work and navigating political dynamics. What is it about urban planning that appeals to you in the first place? I agree that going into the environmental aspects would probably be a good fit for you, but if you want to actually be involved in project management, you'd be better off going to work with consulting firms.

    Have you considered potentially getting an additional degree in engineering? Or even an Master's? You have a strong science/math background already, so that could be an option. I have my undergrad in Materials Engineering. I wouldn't describe myself as being creative, but I'm good at problem solving. If you think that describes you, that might be a good fit.

    Also, does your school have a career counseling center? I would definitely check that out as an option to help you figure out what some options would be.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    If you like field work, I'd suggest going for a Master's in Environmental Science (if going for a Master's is an option for you). If not, I'd suggest at least working on some of the environmental certifications that are available through NAEP or your state chapter of Environmental Professionals. You might also consider getting Project Manager certification.

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