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career advice

kavitat

Member
Messages
24
Points
2
Hello folks,

I am writing after a very long time on the thread. I have a background in architecture and urban planning with six years of work experience . However I took few years off to raise my family. I am trying to relaunch my career in planning after a sizeable break. Can anyone help me to understand the current job market growth? Also I am quite not sure as to how do I navigate my career path. Do I need a professional coach or a mentor?
I am trying to find Internships/Entry level positions to get started, however these positions are offered to fresh graduates and interns.

Any comments?

Kavita
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
10,945
Points
32
Hi there!

I assume you are in the US which unfortunately and likely means you may have to start back at entry level but you still can go for 3 to 5 year positions.

You may want to try multidisciplinary firms that have planning as a component.

Perhaps ask for conversations or informal interviews with places you want to work!

Good luck! Keep us posted!
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,229
Points
33
I'm not sure how to do it, but you should explain the gap in work on the resume so you can get those interviews. I just don't know how to put mom as a job. Dads don't have that problem, but I would respect a resume that said mom as work experience.
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
7
Everyone has the work gap problem (not just women). Actually, I think women can make the argument for parenthood as a viable reason for work absences easier than men... when a mother says, "raising my family", you need a damn cold heart to not sympathize or respect that choice. When a father says, "raising my family", you (maybe it's just me) think lazy/unmotivated.

I came from an allied profession as well (land. arch.) so I can give you some insight: basically if you don't have a 'planning' degree, you don't get any credit in the planning world; even though, the allied technical degrees give you more hard skills, more practical experience, have a much higher professional conduct standard (i.e. license), and will pay dividends to the employer in things like sector planning, overlays, project/contract management, design standards, ordinances, etc., etc. More progressive agencies will list alternate qualifying education - when that agency has listed: planning, public admin., landscape architecture, architecture, civil engineering, etc. you have a shot at getting in because someone in that agency is something other than a dyed-in-the-wool planner. When it only has planning listed, you're dead in the water.

Unfortunately people are tribal by nature and if they don't understand/have experience with what you offer, they won't value it. i.e. a standard planner has no (or limited) design experience, thus has no idea what value an architect would bring to a planning job... next candidate... "ohhhh, this person has a MURP from UC Berkeley"! :) Hopefully you see what I mean. So yes you'll have to start over at the entry level, and that'll be difficult as well. But fear not, once you're "in" and get 'planning' experience, you automatically join the club above the rest of the up and comers.
 

Salmissra

Cyburbian
Messages
5,487
Points
25
A good cover letter, touching on but not over-emphasizing the time gap, works wonders.

We have an interview next week with a lady that's been out for several years (more than a few but I don't remember the exact #) due to child issues. Her cover letter gave a brief explanation, but was more focused on how she's kept up with the field through reading and networking on her own. I'm interested in her skill set and her ability to pick up new skills - we are not a straight planning agency - and whether she'll fit in. Yes, it's an entry-level position but she is not new to office life.

Move forward with a cover letter that tries to do the same - explain but don't go into too much detail, and emphasize your skills. I don't think you need a job coach, but look into your local/state chapter and see about a mentorship program.
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
7
Another practical tip: if you can't get into the planning profession off your current education (because of the aforementioned), look for a short-term (6 course) certificate program in something like land use planning. It's a good parlay and can be just what the doctor ordered - I have personally seen this work well.
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
393
Points
11
I came from an allied profession as well (land. arch.) so I can give you some insight: basically if you don't have a 'planning' degree, you don't get any credit in the planning world; even though, the allied technical degrees give you more hard skills, more practical experience, have a much higher professional conduct standard (i.e. license), and will pay dividends to the employer in things like sector planning, overlays, project/contract management, design standards, ordinances, etc., etc. More progressive agencies will list alternate qualifying education - when that agency has listed: planning, public admin., landscape architecture, architecture, civil engineering, etc. you have a shot at getting in because someone in that agency is something other than a dyed-in-the-wool planner. When it only has planning listed, you're dead in the water.

Unfortunately people are tribal by nature and if they don't understand/have experience with what you offer, they won't value it. i.e. a standard planner has no (or limited) design experience, thus has no idea what value an architect would bring to a planning job... next candidate... "ohhhh, this person has a MURP from UC Berkeley"! :) Hopefully you see what I mean. So yes you'll have to start over at the entry level, and that'll be difficult as well. But fear not, once you're "in" and get 'planning' experience, you automatically join the club above the rest of the up and comers.
Whoa, super interesting because I've found the opposite. As "only a planner", I've seen that absolutely no one in the private sector values you if you don't have a background and license/degree in an allied profession like landscape arch, arch, or civil engineering. In my experience it was frustratingly easy for an allied technical profession to "do some planning work on the side" - aka basically just do some writing - and claim they had "planning" experience, then it was for a straight up planner to do anything else because the technical skills curve and licensing process is so much steeper.

Also, on the gender front, I've had a former male boss who took time off to raise the kids because his wife got a job in France for five years. He came back to the US with no problem landing a job as a principal in a planning firm, despite being not just out of the workforce, but abroad. Instances like this really highlight gender gaps in hiring practices.
 

kavitat

Member
Messages
24
Points
2
A good cover letter, touching on but not over-emphasizing the time gap, works wonders.

We have an interview next week with a lady that's been out for several years (more than a few but I don't remember the exact #) due to child issues. Her cover letter gave a brief explanation, but was more focused on how she's kept up with the field through reading and networking on her own. I'm interested in her skill set and her ability to pick up new skills - we are not a straight planning agency - and whether she'll fit in. Yes, it's an entry-level position but she is not new to office life.

Move forward with a cover letter that tries to do the same - explain but don't go into too much detail, and emphasize your skills. I don't think you need a job coach, but look into your local/state chapter and see about a mentorship program.
Having a good cover letter is a great idea! Yes. i did participate in the mentorship program for APA Orange County CA for the last year but didn't had much luck.
 

kavitat

Member
Messages
24
Points
2
Another practical tip: if you can't get into the planning profession off your current education (because of the aforementioned), look for a short-term (6 course) certificate program in something like land use planning. It's a good parlay and can be just what the doctor ordered - I have personally seen this work well.
Thank you so much for recommending certification. I live quite close to University of California (UCI) irvine. I can definitely look upon their website to find more options for certificate program.
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
4,539
Points
25
As "only a planner", I've seen that absolutely no one in the private sector values you if you don't have a background and license/degree in an allied profession like landscape arch, arch, or civil engineering.
Experiences vary by user, I suppose...
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
7
Whoa, super interesting because I've found the opposite. As "only a planner", I've seen that absolutely no one in the private sector values you if you don't have a background and license/degree in an allied profession like landscape arch, arch, or civil engineering. In my experience it was frustratingly easy for an allied technical profession to "do some planning work on the side" - aka basically just do some writing - and claim they had "planning" experience, then it was for a straight up planner to do anything else because the technical skills curve and licensing process is so much steeper.

Also, on the gender front, I've had a former male boss who took time off to raise the kids because his wife got a job in France for five years. He came back to the US with no problem landing a job as a principal in a planning firm, despite being not just out of the workforce, but abroad. Instances like this really highlight gender gaps in hiring practices.
Seems to me that the private sector is different - anything goes - but as far as working for a public agency (after trying to get hired as a planner with 2 masters and having countless interviews) I've found this to be the case. I always got confused expressions when I tried explaining that land. arch. can be useful for planning - they were always looking for a MCP/MURP graduate.

Anyways... wow, that blows my mind about your boss! Maybe he called-in some favors... again, private sector. ;)
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,229
Points
33
Varies by city or region I think. Metro Phoenix holds some value in LA as planners.
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
7
Sure, but it's uncommon. Last interview I had with my local (large) county planning department, they derailed me on the 2nd interview after tricking me into saying: yes, I'd be interested in working with their (only) LA on landscape plan approvals and tree ordinances. This is after I had finally convinced them that I could do something useful for the planning department due to my non-planner qualifications... even with 5 years of planning work experience. :rolleyes: After that, I just accepted that I'd never work as a local planner and moved on with my life.
 
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