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Am I the only one that LOVES my job?

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,195
Points
26
Perhaps I am a bit naive, but I really do love my job, and would recommend it to those looking for a career. Planning totally fits my personality...a little bit (well, kind of a lot!) on the anal and controlling side, organized, nosy (hahhaah), love seeing improvement or trying to make it happen, love having a say in what happens around me. For those that don't give a crap, planning wouldn't be for them. There are some things I hate...being threatened with lawsuit, because I won't let some buttheads park their fleet of vehicles on the front lawn. Those just roll off my back - I'm doing my job, deal with it.

Maybe I just got lucky...after grad school I got a job in a rural community of 10,000. Entire population of county is 45,000. Lots of lakes and agriculture. There's politics, but you'll find that anywhere where you have to deal eith government. Surprisingly, my position is held in pretty high regard both at City and County level. Regardless of the bunch of yahoos in this county, people realize planning is important. My *professional opinion* is taken seriously and respected. ((not that that means they always go along with my suggestions))

Being the only planner, I technically *am* the planning dept. While pretty busy, I have do SO much, which has helped me learn so much. I get to be involved and have the ability to work with other departments (Building, Engineering, DDA, Economic Development......etc. etc. etc.) I've learned more here in the past three years, than I did in college.People know I am not into the BS, or politics type of thing, but it is hard to get away regardless of where you are at, or what position.

I think too that attitudes are important. If you (meaning anyone) come across "I hate this town, hate my job, hate the people, hate this profession", you will not be respected and others will not take you seriously, and not look forward to working with you. Not that you should have to kiss ass either though.

Sorry if this sounds all 'flowery', but I just wanted to reiterate that there are planners that like their job. I'm in Michigan, right by the Indiana and Ohio border.. not sure if there is a stereotype of planning in Michigan, but so far it works for me! Granted, this is my first job after grad school, but I know there is crap out there. I just think people have to be smart enough to either 1) try to change it their situation, or 2) get the hell out and find your niche somewhere else. Complaining won't get you anywhere.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,472
Points
69
I would say that I loved my job, at least in the first few months. It seemed ideal ... good co-workers, a small town where I could perform a variety of functions,, and a smart, pro-planning Town Commission, and a variety of work that kept things interesting.

The problems, though ...

1) An exponentially increasing workload that kept me at the office for 50 to 60 hours a week. The week before last, it was 70. Night meetings a month... two Town Commission, two Planning and Zoning Board, one Board of Adjustment, one Code Enforcement Board, the occasional Town Center Committee ... it was too much. No comp time, and even if I got it, I'd have no time to take it ... I only took one vacation day in the past year. When your workload makes the news, it's a bad sign. I literally have no life outside of work ... none.

2) A work environment that was not condusive to actually working, because a) my office was directly off the VERY LOUD reception area, b) was THE shortcut between the reception area and the town hall annex, so I had someone cutting through every ten or twenty minutes, c) excessive public contact, which meant there were few long blocks of time to work on projects or staff reports, d) no closed door policy, because it would have been impossible to implement; the office configuration and the demands of residents meant that everyone had unlimited, direct access to me.

I could go on with 3), 4), and 5), but I'll spare you. You've heard my ragging in recent weeks, and it isn't pretty. Suffice it to say that I loved what my job could have been, before I put in my notice of resignation. Given numerous externalities not present in other planning offices, though ... well, complaining got me nowhere, so I'm getting out. Where, I don't know. I do know that I'd I didn't get out ... well, the Japanese call it karoshi.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,192
Points
28
Dan: But do you love the planning profession? It's one thing to despise your current position, and another to hate the profession. Seeing that you are looking for another job, as oppossed to going to grad school and getting your MBA, I would assume that you still love the planning proffession. I hope this true! It must be, as Cyburbia appears to be a passion of yours!

P.S. Couldn't your current department hire an assistant planner? I know, budget is tight, yada, yada, yada.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,472
Points
69
Beaner said:
Dan: But do you love the planning profession? It's one thing to despise your current position, and another to hate the profession. .
I've never said "I'm going to get my MBA" or "screw this ... I'm going to become an engineer." I don't know how many others feel the way that I do, but since I was a kid, drawing imaginary maps of cities, I've said "I'm going to be an urban planner." I've always been fascinated with cities, places, demographics, architecture, the built environment, and so on, and I can't imagine doing anything else ... even for a six digit salary. I'd feel ... empty if I had a different career.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,081
Points
34
Dan is right. This is a career that beckons to people. They are passionate about places, development, ecosystems and econosystems. They play SimCity and play with GIS. As kids they drew pictures of houses and played with Lincoln Logs. They carry cameras in their cars and stop to take pictures of things both good and bad in the built environment. It is in the blood. An individual job in the field may be bad, but the field of planning is itself a passion.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
I love being a planner, i love in theory what i do-i hate who i do it for and i hate the slack i catch for it.

im educated, bright and creative but we are by in large treated like dirt. an atty friend once told me planners were the onlything attys could look down on-and ya know what in the last 2 communites ive worked in it was true.

sad
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
SW - I'll be your soul sister - I honestly can say that I am so lucky to have the job that I do. Yes - uneducated planning board members, wacked out yahoos in the public and the whole political machine can really suck. but at the end of the day, i drive by examples of what I've done to improve my community, on the way home from work. I work in an environment that is extremely accommodating and in fact encourages me to have a real life outside of work. I'm with you, I'm happy with where I am.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,925
Points
40
I may have been late to discover Planning (didn't even realize it was a profession until college), but I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. The fact that I could be involved in such a wide variety of different issues and projects keeps the job fresh, and I've been fortunate to work with some really great co-workers. I still go back to the community I used to work for to see the "end results," and can't wait until there are more for me here in my current job. For the most part the profession is well respected, and offers reasonable QOL in this region. I have little doubt that I'll be a planner for the rest of my life.
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
I went to grad school for planning just to keep the student loan sharks off my back until I figured out my next move. Like NHP, I didn't know it was a profession until then. There are some aspects about my job that I like and others that I don't. I can't say that I LOVE it because that would be too extreme for me. I don't have warm, fuzzy feelings about the job either so I guess that puts me somewhere in the lukewarm to warm category.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
Like I've said a bunch of times, Planning with the gov't just wasn't for me. However, in my new job, I've found real satisfaction in applying my planning experience to the engineering field.

When we start developing plans for a subdivision, instead of commenting on plans that are already prepared, and not likely to change much, I get to add my input right from the beginning.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,993
Points
30
I like it.

I too discovered it later than most. I love it more every day. I hope to get back into current planning again someday. But next time in a place where it is looked upon as a good thing by the locals.
 
Messages
130
Points
6
About a million times I've tried to figure out what else I might want to do for a living. But like several comments in this string, I'll have to say urban planning is something that gets in your blood and stays there. Also, I'm very fortunate to be in a new position with a county regional planning commission that I like very much and suits my interests well.

Now, if I could only switch off my "planner brain" once in a while so I could walk my dog around the neighborhood without subconciously critiquing every house, street, curb, gutter, signpost, street intersection, park strip width.... :)
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Andy Dobson said:
Now, if I could only switch off my "planner brain" once in a while so I could walk my dog around the neighborhood without subconciously critiquing every house, street, curb, gutter, signpost, street intersection, park strip width.... :)
This is something that always amazes and annoys my friends.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I'm with you andy and bturk.

I will also include the urban history and theory as part of the speech too.

A somewhat related question - separation of work and real life.

I was invited to a friend's house for dinner, there were people there that had lead a lynch mob against me over a reccomendation I had made. How do you deal with these people in a social setting?
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
donk said:
I was invited to a friend's house for dinner, there were people there that had lead a lynch mob against me over a reccomendation I had made. How do you deal with these people in a social setting?
I say, "Why don't you call me at the office to discuss that. We're here to enjoy good comnpany so lets talk about [insert something interesting]"
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
donk said:
I'm with you andy and bturk.

I will also include the urban history and theory as part of the speech too.

A somewhat related question - separation of work and real life.

I was invited to a friend's house for dinner, there were people there that had lead a lynch mob against me over a reccomendation I had made. How do you deal with these people in a social setting?
Respond in Plannerese and mix in some theory for effect and they won't have a clue as to what you're talking about or wonder why they even bothered to question your professional judgement in the first place. **It has worked for me**
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
.
I say, "Why don't you call me at the office to discuss that. We're here to enjoy good comnpany so lets talk about [insert something interesting]"
I would love to tell people this, but living in a small community and being involved in a high profile development I can't go anywhere without people asking about the case.

The topic came up in passing and I was able to explain my role in the process and why that explanation was not made earlier (role of the planner and the media).

I really just wanted to tell them to BEEP OFF and mind their own business in the future. The process was not a pleasant one.
 

Terraplan

Cyburbian
Messages
23
Points
2
Tranplanner said:


Always blame the engineers and the lawyers...
Well.... it is their fault isn't it?

Seriously though, you either love planning, or you're boring (insert: accountant, lawyer, or engineer here), there is no imbetween.

The thing about planning is that it gives one a very holistic view of the world, from environmental studies, to politics, to economics, to architecture and urban form. I think it's that heightened awareness of where we are, what we are doing, and whats actually important that gets in under your skin.

So yes, I love my career (and not just the lifestyle of consultant), and I don't just consider it my job.

Or as a student wrote in a job application to our firm: -

"I'm very happy with the "Carrier" of my choice....
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
I've thought about this, and I definitely fit into the "love the career" crowd. Only I drool over transportation networks, not set-backs and minor variances.

The job is good - I definitely love working for a progressive city. Though of course there is a lot of politics, and too much overlap/duplication. It's a constant fight to be heard above the crowd! In addition, my boss is so busy that it is very hard to get any time with him, and thus very hard to get a lot of work moved forward - I've got crap waiting in his inbox that's been there for weeks (months!).

It'd be nice to have a bit more power/control, instead of constantly having to negotiate with others.
 

mug

BANNED
Messages
67
Points
4
Planning as a profession is going down

've been a good boy here lately so I hope I don't blow it. The problem with planning is that it's so broad and non productive. Lemme explain.

It so broad because planning spans so many fields and therefore is diluted, generally non respected, and low paying. Just think of all the people on this forum- it ranges from transportation planners to, code enforcement, to economic dev, etc. So many jobs calling themselves planners. There was a debate on here as to whether code enforcement is planning. Code enforcers as with other "planners" are all just municipal administrators- nothing more, nothing less. The same as mid level pukes in a private enterprise.

Planning is non productive because there is no need to hustle to get anything done. It moves at the speed of government with it's bank holidays, bureacracy, politcal strategery etc. The worker in the private sector has to produce something to keep his/her job. In government the worker, on the other hand, is not held nearly as accountable for his/her actions. The off the wall benefits packages also allow the gvt. worker to wallow in laziness.

So it is not surprising that this thread starter loves her job. You don't have to produce for a company by bringing in revenue, you have subsidized benefits and probably niceties like comp time, excess vacation, etc. Your not a bad person for loving that situation- just try to realize you're not doing much to increase the productivity of the econmomy.

Planning often hinders and adds cost to private sector endeavors. Municipalities really only need a good plan and codes and then have an absolute minimum staff to enforce it.
 
Messages
130
Points
6
donk said:
I'm with you andy and bturk.

I will also include the urban history and theory as part of the speech too.

A somewhat related question - separation of work and real life.

I was invited to a friend's house for dinner, there were people there that had lead a lynch mob against me over a reccomendation I had made. How do you deal with these people in a social setting?
Sometimes, it's fun to take a poll of the room of who voted in the last local election. Then you can see how many in the "lynch mob" are interested in being involved in local affairs in any meaningful way.

After being thrown out of the party by the lynch mob, you can congratulate yourself on your knowledge and rightousness while picking out your extra-value meal at McDonalds. :)

I had someone pull this kind of stunt on me at the gym of all places. I should've dropped a barbell on his foot. The perils of being in the public eye I guess.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
I dont think you blew it Muggie

That was concise and introspective. And yes *ohmygosh* I'm siding with mugbub!

I agree that our career title describes a concept not a product. A lot of market sectors have planners - financial planners, for example? You say "Planning is not productive" well, that's becasue planning is not a product to be produced. Its a process to be followed. Its a means to an ends. In my opinion too many in government beleive it is a product.
 
Messages
130
Points
6
Re: Planning as a profession is going down

mugbub1 said:
Planning is non productive because there is no need to hustle to get anything done. It moves at the speed of government with it's bank holidays, bureacracy, politcal strategery etc. The worker in the private sector has to produce something to keep his/her job. In government the worker, on the other hand, is not held nearly as accountable for his/her actions. The off the wall benefits packages also allow the gvt. worker to wallow in laziness.

I think there are loads of public-sector professionals, myself included, who take strong exception to this assertion.

The misconception that every public sector worker is a jaded, calcified bureaucrat and every private sector worker is a dynamite booster of capitalism and the free world should be put to rest by any thoughtful person. There are dynamite government employees and bloated examples of inefficiency, greed, and corruption in business. It swings both ways
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
Re: Planning as a profession is going down

mugbub1 said:
've been a good boy here lately so I hope I don't blow it. The problem with planning is that it's so broad and non productive. Lemme explain.


Planning is non productive because there is no need to hustle to get anything done. It moves at the speed of government with it's bank holidays, bureacracy, politcal strategery etc. The worker in the private sector has to produce something to keep his/her job. In government the worker, on the other hand, is not held nearly as accountable for his/her actions. The off the wall benefits packages also allow the gvt. worker to wallow in laziness.
While that may be true in your case, I beg to differ. When I worked for the gov't, I busted my butt much in the same way I do now for the private sector. There's no difference to me. Why? Because of my work ethic. I go to work and do what it expected of me (from my boss, client and myself) and perform accordingly, sometimes above and beyond. Civil service can only protect a gov't worker so long before he or she is held accountable for their actions. I've seen it happen.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,925
Points
40
Andy Dobson said:
Now excuse me. I have to report for jury duty tomorrow. :-(
Enjoy, Andy....I had jury duty is September....it's a disruption to life, but quite an interesting experience (I ended up sitting on 2 cases, and was foreman for one).
 

Bullwinkle

Cyburbian
Messages
176
Points
7
Re: Planning as a profession is going down

mugbub1 said:

Planning is non productive because there is no need to hustle to get anything done. It moves at the speed of government with it's bank holidays, bureacracy, politcal strategery etc. The worker in the private sector has to produce something to keep his/her job. In government the worker, on the other hand, is not held nearly as accountable for his/her actions. The off the wall benefits packages also allow the gvt. worker to wallow in laziness.
I'll argue your assertion that the public sector worker is not held as accountable as the private sector worker. I've personally been involved in two situations where the public employees' performance was very explicitly and publicly evaluated and rewarded/punished.

In one instance, I was the town planner for a small community in New Hampshire. We operated under the Town Meeting form of government - once a year all of the voters gathered and set the budget, determined policies, adopted land use regulations, etc. During the discussion of the budget, somebody stood up and moved to amend budget line ____ down by a specific amount. That was my budget, and the amount to be deleted equalled my salary! We proceeded to have a debate for several minutes over the value of planning in our community and the need for a professional planner. The amendment was soundly defeated (I think only two votes in favor) and my job - and the merits of sound professional planning - was endorsed by the community.

In the other case, I worked for a regional planning commission that was performing poorly as an organization. We weren't responsive to member communities, some of our staff members weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, and our perceived value was very low. Communities quit, we didn't get contracts renewed for planning services, and our budget suffered. As a result, there was a complete turnover in staff within about six months - including me. (In my defense, I wasn't directly involved with most communities. The communities I worked with were very happy and were supporters of the organization.)

In both instances public sector performance was very clearly rewarded (my individual perfomance, in that case) or punished (at the organizational level). The market works in the public sector, too.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I love my job... and I've always loved planning. There have times that I have hated past jobs... or heck, even times that I've disliked my current job, but I think it's a profession that comes really naturally to me and that I get a lot of satisfaction from. Can't beat that at the end of the day (well, unless the end of the day is after a six hour Council meeting).

Tomorrow is the third day out of a three-day course on Alberta legislation. I love this course... I love going to school. But I think I like it so much now because I like my job and I like to learn new things about it. I hated college, but I think I finally found my place. I've been doing this about 13 years now (since I was 19... sheesh)... almost half my life, and I still love it!
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,195
Points
26
"It so broad because planning spans so many fields and therefore is diluted, generally non respected, and low paying. Just think of all the people on this forum- it ranges from transportation planners to, code enforcement, to economic dev, etc. So many jobs calling themselves planners. There was a debate on here as to whether code enforcement is planning. Code enforcers as with other "planners" are all just municipal administrators- nothing more, nothing less."

Yes, I agree that planning is broad, but that is one thing that I love about it. I am the only planner here and get to be involved in SO many different things - historic preservation, recreation, engineering, code enforcement, zoning, site plan review, housing.... There is always something new and different. If you get bored at my job, your not doing something right. Now, I guess I would understand if you worked at a larger municipality that had many planners, and you were 'assigned' to handle say, just code enforcement, or just site plan review, etc. I think that would get tedious for me, and I probably would get bored and as a result, lazy.

"So it is not surprising that this thread starter loves her job. You don't have to produce for a company by bringing in revenue, you have subsidized benefits and probably niceties like comp time, excess vacation, etc. Your not a bad person for loving that situation- just try to realize you're not doing much to increase the productivity of the econmomy. "

I agree with I think it was Bturk who explained that planning is a process and therefore wouldn't produce. Maybe I am a selfish little snot, but I really don't care that I am "not doing much to increase the productivity of the economy". I work my damndest (is that spelled right) to improve my community and make is a safe, beautiful place where people want to live, play, work, visit, etc. I know that sounds hokey, but too bad. If someone comes here and thinks it ghetto, they sure wouldn't want to start a businesses, move here, visit, etc. I think my job is very important, and I work hard at it and take it very seriously. While I may not be contributing to the overall economy, in a way, my job does have some bearing on the economy of the community.

By the way, I was the original thread start. I don't feel the need to 'prove' myself or try to argue with mugbug, but I do want to point out that while it is acceptable to have your own opinion, generalizations are not. Most of time, they simply aren't true.
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
Re: Planning as a profession is going down

mugbub1 said:
Planning is non productive because there is no need to hustle to get anything done. It moves at the speed of government with it's bank holidays, bureacracy, politcal strategery etc. The worker in the private sector has to produce something to keep his/her job. In government the worker, on the other hand, is not held nearly as accountable for his/her actions. The off the wall benefits packages also allow the gvt. worker to wallow in laziness.
Muggy, I agree that government workers are not held responsible enough for their actions. I'm sure every single public sector employee on this board can point to an example of someone (or many people) in their workplace that take advantage of their benefits. However, I think you're painting with a wide brush - I really do feel that the work I do is valued in my community, and that the work I do does make an impact on my physical environment.

Some would argue that the off the wall benefits packages allow public school teachers to wallow in laziness.... but you still have a lot of very dedicated and hard working professionals that are working in that field. Yes, it is an imperfect rewards system, but when you're providing an unquanitfiable product, this happens.

As for the private sector planners - There are a lot of planners on this board that made the switch from public to private and have been very happy for doing so. However, the firms that I have knowledge of, in this area, generally treat their employees abominably. And the majority of private firms are so top heavy, with too many principles, vice presidents and marketing people, and not enough "worker bees" - entry level CAD people, L.A.'s and planners that so many projects go insanely over budget and the quality of the end product is, at best, shoddy.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Kinda related to I love my job...

Is it wrong for me to be happily awaiting a trip to court this Friday?

The properrty owners we are taking to court have made my life a living hell for periods of time over the past 2 years, have had adequate appeals (and lost) and now we are going to the Judge to have orders enforced.

I can't wait.
 

Mastiff

Gunfighter
Messages
7,181
Points
30
Re: Planning as a profession is going down

mugbub1 said:
It so broad because planning spans so many fields and therefore is diluted, generally non respected, and low paying. Just think of all the people on this forum- it ranges from transportation planners to, code enforcement, to economic dev, etc. So many jobs calling themselves planners. There was a debate on here as to whether code enforcement is planning. Code enforcers as with other "planners" are all just municipal administrators- nothing more, nothing less. The same as mid level pukes in a private enterprise.
This is often not the fault of the "planners", per se, but the government officials who jam everything that doesn't fit into the auspices of "planning". The larger cities, with more departments (and more management) tend to break it down, but the smaller cities I've worked for toss just about anything into "Community Development"... Grants, building & codes, CE, and much more.

mugbub1 [/i][B] Planning is non productive because there is no need to hustle to get anything done. It moves at the speed of government with it's bank holidays said:
So it is not surprising that this thread starter loves her job. You don't have to produce for a company by bringing in revenue, you have subsidized benefits and probably niceties like comp time, excess vacation, etc. Your not a bad person for loving that situation- just try to realize you're not doing much to increase the productivity of the econmomy.
Revenue? I brought in over $500,000 in 10 months. You see, grant writing is part of my job here. I wrote my first one (and got it) the second week I was here. I wrote it mostly on "my time", evenings and week-ends, since it was due.

But pure planning is supposed to save taxpayers through various means. I'll let someone else expound if they care to do so...

mugbub1 said:

Planning often hinders and adds cost to private sector endeavors. Municipalities really only need a good plan and codes and then have an absolute minimum staff to enforce it.
Who writes the plans? Who updates them? Who staffs the meetings where planning advice is required?

And let me tell you... Much of the "private sector" will absolutely SCREW the people of a city to save a nickle, given the chance...
 
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