• We're a fun, friendly, and diverse group of planners, placemakers, students, and other folks who found their people here. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! Use your email address, or register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

B.A.... Now what?

Stalds

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
Well I'm going into my final year for my Bachelor of Environmental Studies - Honours Planning, and I can't help but worry about what I'm going to do after. 'Just want to find out what you guys did after getting your BA (for those who got one in planning). Was it easy to find a job? What kind of jobs did you find? Or did most go right back for a masters? I'll be graduating at 22 years old, and I'm getting the impression this seems very young to be starting in the profession. Any suggestions/comments would be appreciated.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
I think you're graduating at a half-decent time. There seem to be entry-level planning jobs out there for those who want them. Did you do Co-op, or just regular stream? The lack of work experience could hurt a bit...

I graduated 6 years ago, and it took me a year to land a full-time job in the field. If you're really passionate about planning, stick it out and don't settle.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
Get the Masters now

Life has a way of sneaking up on you - If you can get the masters now instead of trying to go back in 5 to 10 years - I vote for that option. You are still in student mode and poor. Getting a taste of money and loosing those study habits is real easy to do once you get a real job.

I did it that way and am glad for it. I watched my parents spend years at night school working on their masters degrees.
 

Stalds

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
Thanks guys,

I went through the regular stream because I've heard a few co-op horror stories, and I didn't want to have to deal with the constant moving around, subletting, money issues, etc. However I have been lucky enough to find my own summer planning jobs. For the past 2 summers I have worked as a Planning & Development Assistant for a municipality, and have gained valuable experience here. It's just that when I browse the entry level planning jobs, they all require 2 years min. experience.... I have experience, just not 2 years. I've considered the masters route, I'd just like work in the field for a while to make sure this is really what I want to do, in order to leave a few options open. And I need to make money, cause broke is what I'm all about right now!
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
A masters is a masters is a masters. You will find that people are fairly accepting of diversity in graduate degrees. All they tell an employer is that you can work at that level. And it seperates you from the BA crowd come promotion time. Get it and you'll never regret it. Don't get it and you might.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
Well for once [wink wink] I agree completely with El Guapo. It's sound advice that you won't regret. I will shortly be hiring an entry level planner in our department. The posting call sfor a BS in Planning or related field. I have dozens of resumes on file from folks with Masters, with little than intern or part time experience. I'll take them over a BS or BA with experience any day. I know an entry level job shouldn't keep a person for more than 2-3 years, regardless of their education level, so I might as well get the most educated one, right?
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
And another thing....

People rarely address this aspect of it but you will learn to think at a higher level and gain access to knowledge that doesn't find its way to you in your undergraduate studies or in the workplace. Do it for your mind if for no other reason. Treat yourself to this pleasure because life is so very short and you don't want to go through life without testing your mind's potential.

Sorry for sticking on this point, it is just that I really enjoyed the program I was in so very much. I still try to read the books recommended as additional reading from my masters program. Of course I wish I had stayed to do a Ph.D. at this point in my life. Maybe someday.

Anyway GOOD LUCK and keep us informed.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
I'll disagree somewhat. I did not find a planning job with a BS, and worked at other things (including the Army) for almost two years before going back for my masters, while working in a planning-related job. Most ads say 2+ years experience and a masters. You need both. I look at both, and given a person with a BS and 5 years experience or a MS with no experience, I'll take the BS applicant first.

A good masters program does teach a different thought process and it does provide a depth of knowledge you won't get from a BS program. Still, I was far better off (as were most in my class) by having some real world experience to help guide my learning process. Without it, you do not truly have a sense of how the knowledge is applied.

There do seem to be more opportunities for entry-level planners than there were a while back. They may require that you move to another state/province. I would encourage you to seek the experience, but continue with your education as well. Be up front with the prospective employer and let them know of your desire to get a masters. Most will accommodate you as best they can, including work schedules and sometimes tuition.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
I agree with the thought that if you want really want a Masters, get it now, before you enter the "real" world. My big plan after getting my undergrad was to work for a few years, then go back and get my Masters... It's six years and I'm still no closer to that Graduate degree. And there's no way in hell that I will be quitting my job to go back to school full-time.
 

Stalds

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
Thanks everyone for your input, it helps. I know the debate about experience over education is an ongoing one, however I've realized that I've learned a lot more while working than at school... For the big picture, of course education will provide you with the proper thinking skills, groundwork and general knowlege. By working however, I've learned more about the applied aspects, the process, and often times how little all the theory comes into play. I thought for an entry level position, a BA w/ some experience would bring more to the table than a Masters with very little, guess I was wrong. As for promotions and higher level jobs, that's when I'd value the masters. I do aim to get mine, solely for personal benefit and opportunity. I just hope that a BA in planning has some meaning and will open some doors when I graduate!
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
Stalds - I agree 100% with the future Dr. Guapo and Bturk - I'd go right to grad school. Going to school part time while you're working full time is such a crappy situation - my sister in law is doing it right now and is so miserable. I admit, I was a little burned out on school when I went right into grad school from undergrad, but i'm so glad I did it. Once you're working and making money, you get used to luxary items such as food other than beer and ramen noodles. Better to stick to poverty for an extra two years and get it all done with at once. As far as the paying aspect goes, a lot of schools have tuition breaks if you do grad assistant work.

Best luck with whatever you decide!
Kelly
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
The point has been made but I felt the need to put my 2 cents in - stay in school and get it over with. I suggest getting a graduate assistantship, interning or volunteering at any planning agency/government office or anyplace that will give you relevant planning experience. It paid off for me in the long run. :)
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
Perhaps?

Dan could sponsor internships at the Cyburbia Institute of Planning for young college women who are majoring in planning to raise funds and provide support for Cyburbia.

Young college girls who are willing to work for free + The tutelage of our wise and talented Dan on-site at his Oakland FLA Campus = A smashing success where everyone leaves a winner!

Maybe even a calendar featuring the "Interns of Cyburbia" With a foreword by former President Clinton.

“Where have all the kittens gone?”

-------------------------------------------------
My name is Kimmie. I'm 23 and a freelance PUD critic.

My turn-ons are Restrictive Covenants and Subdivision Regulations.
My turn-offs are developers in polyester and zoning board members who don't thoroughly read their pre-meeting packets
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
Re: Perhaps?

El Guapo said:
Dan could sell or even give away internships at the Cyburbia Institute of Planning to young college women who are majoring in planning to raise funds to support Cyburbia.

Young college girls willing to work for free + The tutelage of our wise and talented Dan on-site at his Oakland FLA Campus = A smashing success where everyone leaves a winner!

“Where have all the kittens gone?”
Why does something sound suspect about this?????????? ;)
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
24
I have a different perspective from most of the replies here. I finished my BA in 2000 when I was 21, and I knew I wasn't ready to do more study at that time. I had no idea what job I wanted to do, but I found the one I am in now and it has worked out really well (actually they created the position for me based on my background - pretty cool eh!). Anyway my point is don't stress too much about not knowing exactly where you're heading, and if you have some reservations about doing more study now, then maybe you need a break. I know I would have burnt out if I had continued, but then I was commuting to uni, working all weekend and living with my ex-boyfriends parents! Not a mix I would recommend.
 
Last edited:
Messages
6
Points
0
I think that it all depends on your interest. If you want to work for a City / Township / County, doing zoning and landuse then you are better off taking a job after your B.A. Graduate program does not really cover any more in depth than what you have learned in your under graduation. You learn a whole lot on the job, and this is something you learn throgh experience.

On the other hand, if you are interested in Economic Development, Historic Preservation, GIS, Urban Design, Transportation Planning, etc, then you should definitelly consider going to Graduate School.

Good Luck.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
To quote Ayn Rand:

To preserve one’s mind intact through a modern college education is a test of courage and endurance, but the battle is worth it and the stakes are the highest possible to man: the survival of reason. The time spent in college is not wasted if one knows how to use the comprachicos [mind- destroyers] against themselves: one learns in reverse — by subjecting their theories to the most rigorously critical examination and discovering what is false and why, what is true, what are the answers. Then get shitfaced and hurl.
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
plg_is_common_sense said:
I think that it all depends on your interest. If you want to work for a City / Township / County, doing zoning and landuse then you are better off taking a job after your B.A. Graduate program does not really cover any more in depth than what you have learned in your under graduation. You learn a whole lot on the job, and this is something you learn throgh experience.

On the other hand, if you are interested in Economic Development, Historic Preservation, GIS, Urban Design, Transportation Planning, etc, then you should definitelly consider going to Graduate School.

Good Luck.
It also depends on where you want to work. The civil service departments in this area require that you have a master's degree, and lo and behold, you better have a copy of that degree with you before they release an application to you. Nevermind the fact that a street bum can earn more in a week than a city planner earns in a year, but I digress........
 

Virtue City

Cyburbian
Messages
52
Points
4
I'm in a similar situation, Stalds. I'll be receiving my B.A. at 22 next year, and I think that I'll be going to grad school. I've been very anxious to actually get out of the 'rents' basement and get out on my own. However, I'm addicted to knowledge, and I think that the advantages of going on to get my masters outweigh the benefits of immediately beginning my career. I'd really like to learn as much as I can before I commit to a job.

To see what kinds of jobs are available, you ought to check out your university's career services. Those things hardly get anybody to stop by, and they'd be very willing to serve you.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
29
Out here in Alberta we are have a horrible shortage of planners... everyone is looking. Check the CIP website (as well as the local chapters) for jobs and start looking this summer. I just hired a planner with a B.A. and a year experience over a whole slew of M.A.s. (most of them from Ontario). I was looking for someone who was somewhat familiar with current planning, and the M.A.s didn't have a clue (really!) what was involved with processing a subdivision. They answered very well for the long range/policy stuff... and if you enjoy that type of planning, then an M.A. would probably be beneficial.

Personally, I got my B.A. when I was 19, and I couldn't afford to go to grad school. I made myself more marketable by intern-ing at three different government bodies (including at the State level) before graduating. The first time I presented at City Council I was only 18. If you aren't going for your M.A. try to do as much as you can to gain the technical experience in the field, as that will be what sets you apart from the rest of the group.
 

planasaurus

Cyburbian
Messages
215
Points
9
I agree with the others - get a masters degree. It will be much easier now, and it will be hard to find a job in this field without one. You will be competing with people with masters degrees for jobs, and they will get the job instead of you. Even with some intern experience. Most students have been interns.
 

troy

Member
Messages
68
Points
4
I don't consider working and getting a Masters to be an "either/or" proposition. Perhaps this is because just about everyone in the Master's program I went to was working full time and going to school in the evenings...

To advance in your career, that Master's is going to be useful. I don't know what they teach in an undergrad planning school, since I never went to one, but the broad knowledge base you'll pick up at the Master's level, coupled with a tiny slip of paper that says "This guy knows something" is going to really help you out.

However, the thing that's going to set you apart as you compete with other planners for jobs is going to be your work experience.

You already have the bachelors degree and some internships under your belt. Find a job...preferably at a city with a tuition reimbursement program. Not only will you get paid more than with part-time work, but you can avoid student loans if the city is reimbursing you for your studies...

It might take you four years of part time study to get your degree instead of two years, but at the end of that time, you'll have four years of solid experience behind you, minimal student debt, and you'll have been able to see the practical application of what you were learning as you learned it.

Since you know what you want to do for a career, don't do something silly like "take a year off". It will be hard to go back if you do that. Enroll in the Master's program, and get a day job in the planning department of a nearby city. It may be harder, but it will be worth it.
 
Top