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Thread: Struggling Planner in Boise

  1. #1
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    Struggling Planner in Boise

    Hi Everyone,

    Really don't know where to begin. Going through a very difficult time. Last August I scored my dream Urban Planning career at a city that was doing a lot of great, innovative things. This was my first Urban Planning job and it took me 10 years to get after graduating with a Master's from an accredited program. My boss didn't seem to care I was out of the profession for so long and hired me because I had LiDAR mapping and records management experience. I felt a bit lost and confused when I started my new Planning career. I was the land use planner and I wrote and presented conditional use staff reports to Planning and zoning Commission. Unfortunately I didn't make it through the city's probationary period because my lack of knowledge of zoning code regulations and the Comprehensive Plan. On one occasion, just a few weeks into the job, I was given my first Lot Line Adjustment application. I thought I did it correctly, even had my boss write some of the Site specific conditions of approval with me. However she never checked my work before I approved it. A few weeks later she came into my office angry with me saying I should have denied the application. I tried my hardest to understand the city's code and comp plan. I always met my deadlines. But after that Lot line Adjustment relations between my boss and I soured beyond repair. How can I repair my Planning career? I have had interviews shortly after my termination, however interviewers don't like that I didn't have a Planning job right after graduating and don't like when I am honest about my termination. Distressed!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Not sure what to say that can help. It's hard to recover from getting fired. Maybe some of the internet job sites can give some advice on what to do or someone smarter than me. I would recommend using your lidar skills to get something related to that. State flood mapping, FEMA, etc. Then you don't have to rely so much on the zoning and comp plans which I'm sorry to say are the basics of any planning job. Go for your strengths and work on your weaknesses kind of thing.

    Good luck.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
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    But here's the thing, I Hate LiDAR. I am more passionate about planning. Just because I misinterpreted a dysfunctional development code early in my career means I should give up on planning and do boring Remote Sensing work? I really wasn't given much guidance when I started my planning career. My boss had me signing legal documents on my first day. My boss didn't even check my first LLA for accuracy when I approved it. I didn't have Lot Line Adjustment 101 in my master's program. Sorry, but not giving up because 'high and mighty' powers say i should.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I am very sorry this has happened

    Because you did not last beyond the probationary period, and others should correct me if I am wrong on this, but I would think you could remove the position from your resume because you didn't technically work there.

    welcome btw, from the Mid-Coast of Maine

  5. #5
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    I am very sorry this has happened

    Because you did not last beyond the probationary period, and others should correct me if I am wrong on this, but I would think you could remove the position from your resume because you didn't technically work there.
    This would be my inclination as well. Including it on a resume would do little to support your efforts in finding a new position.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    This would be my inclination as well. Including it on a resume would do little to support your efforts in finding a new position.
    I feel like it's a little of a catch-22 because including it at least shows that there's some experience. But I think if you do include it, you need to be prepared with a REALLY GOOD, diplomatic response for why the position was so short and just expect that it is going to come up. Something along the lines of, "This was my first planning position in a municipal organization and it became apparent early into my probationary period that the department was expecting someone experienced in code interpretation and enforcement to be able to start taking responsibility immediately. Since this was not the type of background I offered, this was not a good fit. However, it was a great learning opportunity for me, and although this specific position was not a good fit, I am (more) confident in my abilities to interpret and enforce codes, approve plats and boundary agreements, and most importantly, ask for help when I am uncertain and make sure I understand the expectations of my position."

    If it helps, I had no idea what I was doing when I approved my first plat.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Sorry to hear about this .

    I can't say what you should do, but I can say what I would do. I wouldn't want to let this haunt me, so I think I would most likely omit it from my Resume and move on.

    If it's any consolation, I can't even count how many times I have gone through past reports, recommendations, etc., and realized something was done incorrectly. Any manager worth their salt would surely notify their staff of an error (and take steps to ensure that it is not repeated too frequently), but should also take some ownership for those errors as well. Maybe there is more to the story, but one error on a staff recommendation during a probationary period seems a pretty harsh reason to me for not offering employment.

    If you felt a bit lost and confused once getting started, do you think it has something to do with your own perception of the planning profession not matching reality, or something to do with the specific environment you were working in? A lot of folks in the profession, myself included, had to go through a bit of a trial by fire once leaving school and entering the workforce to get a real sense of how things work in Planning and Development. I don't say that to try to sway you away from planning, but I do think a lot of people end up coming to the conclusion that it's not for them.

    Even when things seem really bad, there's always the potential that something good will come out of it. Hope that ends up happening for you.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    TBH, it sounds like you're the victim of small town America (planning) politics more than poor performance. And guess what, so was I! I didn't make my first probation either - that was for a nonprofit (of all things). It sounds like you were terminated not because you weren't smart, didn't try hard, or show promise but because you (probably) didn't fit and/or you didn't read the politics right. At least that's my interpretation. I mean, facts are that one mistake is hardly grounds for probation termination.

    It takes some time to recover, I admit. But it's easier to use/leverage the experience than to omit it and find another planning job. You don't have to tell them the exact truth of the matter. You can always say, it wasn't 'the right fit' and most people who are familiar with local politics will understand. Remember, experience is king. Hope that helps alleviate some of the self-doubt.

    And oh yeah, make sure you apply for unemployment insurance benefits!

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