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Thread: what is a good job to have, pre-MLA/MUD?

  1. #1

    what is a good job to have, pre-MLA/MUD?


    i'm a recent college graduate (undergrad) interested in practicing landscape architecture/urban design. I graduated last year with a bachelor's degree in political science, and I have some
    knowledge of the field by way of independent study and an urban design class I took
    in the Urban Studies department. I've been looking into graduate-level programs in
    both disciplines, but I'd like to gain some experience and perspective by working for at
    least a year, preferably in urban planning or a related field. My intention is two-fold: to learn
    as much as possible and to demonstrate comittment to both graduate schools and future employers.

    There are a few things that I need to clear up so that I can focus my search. For one,
    most firms and governments require masters degree or work experience in the field for
    their entry-level positions. Would it be better, with my background, to look for an

    Also, do you know of other types of occupations in which one can learn competencies
    valued in the professions of urban design and landscape architecture?

    My questioning here could probably be summed up by asking, outside of enrolling in an MLA
    or MUD program, how does one get exposure to the practice of
    urban design/landscape architecture and where can I begin to look for this sort of

    Any guidance you can give would be appreciated

  2. #2
    Apr 1997
    In a Van Down By the River
    Sounds like you are asking all the right questions for someone at your stage in the game. DEFINITELY do an internship. If nothing else it will expose you to the "real world" of planning and landscape architecture and you'll know what to expect once you commit to graduate school. I don't want to dissuade you - and I am glad I chose this career path - but a lot of my friends from graduate school are already jaded and burnt out on planning after only a few years in the field. A background in LA will definitely provide you with more job options, especially in the private sector. I can not emphasize enough the importance of getting some internship experience before you commit two years and thousands of dollars...a great deal of what goes on in the real world is not what I envisioned prior to grad school...some of it is mundane and frustrating. This field is not for everyone. But then again, it's frequently a pretty rewarding "feel good" job and I get enough personal satisfaction to keep me happy.

    Best of luck to you.

  3. #3

    Sep 2001
    somewhere cold
    I agree with Brent. Do an internship or try to get an entry level job in the field. I learned more at my internship than I did in grad school. When I got my first planning job I found out that what they teach you in school is not really all of what planners do, so it helped to have a good internship to give me an idea of the real world.

    You may also want to consider enrolling in a class while you are working and before you commit to being a full-time student, since your background in in political science, this may give you more exposure urban design. It could also help if you do decide to apply, and the credits will probably transfer.

  4. #4

    This is a great thread

    This is a great thread and thanks to the planners who responded.
    I am a working environmental professional seriously looking into applying to a Masters in Environmental Planning program as a non traditional, part time student.
    I am thinkng that after I complete the core requirements, I would like to begin looking for a position in a Planning Firm, so that by the time I complete my Master's, I will have already gained experience in the field.
    Currently, I have undergraduate level GIS, Environmental Regulation, Statistics, and tons of science.
    What do you think my chances are of finding a "planner's support" position at this or a slightly later stage of the game?

  5. #5
    Member Mary's avatar
    Aug 2001
    job experience is always helpful if you can get it. Posibilities are going to depend a lot on the market but I would suggest meeting some of the planners and expressing your interest, at conferences, through instructors, or just by dropping into planning offices to learn what they do, ask questions and drop off a resume'. Good luck.

  6. #6

    Sep 2001
    somewhere cold
    Sabrina - I did brownfield redevelopment for a while at a planning department and I think that it would have been very useful to have a planner with environmetnal knowledge on staff. I don't see why you would have any trouble finding a planning job even now (well, given the current economic situation, it may be more difficult than before). Many planning firms do environmental work, or at least hire consultants, so it is always helpful to have environmetnal people on staff - especially one who is planning to get a masters in urban planning. I would suggest looking at larger cities because they probably do more brownfield work than smaller ones. Also, you may want to look at city environmental departments. The city that I worked at had an environmental department with several planners on staff. Plus, GIS is a really good skill that employers look for.

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