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Thread: Finding work and networking after moving cross-country

  1. #1
    Nov 2010
    Bayonne, NJ

    Finding work and networking after moving cross-country

    Hello everyone. My fiance and I are relocating to Los Angeles (from NJ) after she found a job there. I am fresh out of graduate school (concentrated on transportation and urban redevelopment) and all the connections I have made from my internships and school are at the east coast. I have been applying to jobs there for a couple of months now (I mention relocation in my cover letters and in any phone interviews) but haven't had any bites so far. Does anyone have any tips for building connections and finding entry-level work in place where you don't know anyone? Any LA-specific tips?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
    Jan 2009
    Remote command post at local bar
    I think it might go a little easier once you make the move. I find some places don't want to hire if they have to wait for you to move. They'll pick the local person first. Just my experience.

    Make sure to talk about all that CEQA garbage. California really likes that stuff. I'm sure one of the CA planners can give you better tips than that.

    Contact the state/local APA chapter and see what they have going on.

    After your rejection call them and ask for some feedback. As part of the call, tell them you would really appreciate any leads to firms that could use a quality planner like yourself or for the person to pass your resume along to anyone they think you might be a good fit for.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Aug 2016
    Northern California
    ^thanks for the intro, now allow me to digress on CEQA. CEQA basically controls all CA public agency actions and it's the work that planners in CA typically get saddled with doing - at least as much as any other type of work. From what I've experienced in CA, either planners are allocated to transportation planning or environmental planning. The land use stuff gets lumped into the environmental planning (aka CEQA) work. So you'll really need to know CEQA before you'll be successful in CA. Sometimes you can fit into a big organization (county/city) and you won't have to do CEQA work because it's silo'd to someone else, but generally speaking everyone works with CEQA day-in-day-out. Knowing how it controls projects, engages the public, and involves law, are fundamental necessities.

  4. #4
    Aug 2015
    So Cal
    As someone who has applied to a lot of the entry level public sector jobs in the LA area, I can tell you it's competitive as fuck. You just have to keep grinding till you get one.

    I think the Olympics, the metro expansion, and sports stadiums are going to offer a lot of job security in the near future, so keep applying.

    My CEQA experience is pretty basic. I understand the gist of it and the permit streamlining act, but i've never written any of the letters/reports. My background is pretty technical, I did a lot of zoning plan check on complex projects and some public counter work. Since I got hired at the entry level they're not expecting me to do full on environmental impact reports. I'm doing super basic stuff like fill out this notice of exemption template and other simple customer service oriented stuff. And the other cities I worked for hired entry level people to do the easiest planning stuff with no technical knowledge needed (sound permits, outdoor dining permits, alcohol use permits). And since you're entry level someone is going to review your stuff. If you miss something it should get caught by a more experienced planner. Assuming you go to a city with at least ~5 planners, they'll have you work on the most mundane stuff before you get to more complex projects.

    In my experience, the public sector hiring process is
    1) Get your resume accepted to get an interview/take a test
    2) External panel interview (maybe there's a test/essay). The interview will most likely be people who are from other cities (people who you will not work with). This is to verify if you have the qualifications for the job. You will be rated vs other people. Even if you meet the qualifications you might not make the cut.
    3) Internal panel interview. This interview will most likely be with people who you will work with. This is to gauge your personality to see if you "fit." You are still rated vs other people. Even if you bring your A game, someone might have a better A game than you.
    4) Background/medical check
    5) Get hired, enjoy six months of probation

    What step are you not getting to?

    If you're not getting to step 2, then reformat your resume. Otherwise you need to boost your resume with actual experience. You might have to volunteer (unpaid) in some planning related field to boost your resume. That's what I did 5 years ago.

    If you're failing your phone interviews, then you need to practice more. There's a good chance they will ask you about CEQA. You want to understand how the process works. It's pretty complex/convoluted, but hey that's California for you. You can google it and look at the flow charts on the process. Some of the best intro to CEQA stuff is what cities prepare for planning commissioners. These people don't have to know shit about planning. In the interview you say your little spiel on what you know about CEQA, and then you hint at that you are eager to learn more about it being that you are from another state.

    You'd have to tell me/us what questions you think you bombed and we can give you feedback.

    I don't think connections are that important in the public sector. Getting hired is mostly based on merit. Getting promoted on the other hand, has a lot of politics involved.

  5. #5
    Feb 2013
    The Midwest, God's gift to Planet Earth
    bump! Would love to hear the OP's update! JMPang, how has your moving and job search process gone?

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