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career as a developer?

murdoctm

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I am graduating from Miami University (OH) this May, originally from outside of Buffalo. Have a BS in Business MGT, with a strong interest in planning. Down the road I am considering planning and/or law school but I am looking to go to work for a developer for at least a few years. I am interested in all kinds of development and willing to relocate anywhere. Any advice on contacts or what companies might offer the best chances?
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
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4,898
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Have you considered economic development? The field could always use people with backgrounds in business AND planning...
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
Mud Princess said:
Have you considered economic development? The field could always use people with backgrounds in business AND planning...
This is very true. I am one of only a handful of planner - economic developers I know, and I'll tell you that the perspective this background offers is very useful. On the other hand, economic development is a difficult field to break into. There are a few tricks to getting in, though, if you are interested.
 
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So what are the secrets? I'm very interested in economic development and I hope to attend a policy-focused graduate planning program. What makes economic development difficult to get into? as opposed to housing development? What's your background?
thanks much...
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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ED is hard to enter without experience in a related field. The problem is that outside of a few large cities, most ED organizations are small operations. The staff is called upon to have broad, detailed knowledge, and especially, ties to the targeted communities (i.e., developers, site selection consultants, etc.). When I tried breaking in, I kept seeing every job listed with a requirement for a masters degree and 2-5 years of experience.

There are good ways to get in. As a planner, you might develop a specialization in redevelopment. As a public administrator, you might look at local or state agency jobs in CDBG administration or grant program administration. As a business major you could look to demographic (market) analysis or international trade.

One technique to start a career directly in economic development is to look for small communities or small programs. Main Street programs are an excellent opportunity to develop the skills for an economic development career, but be sure to network not just with other downtown developers, but also with the broader economic development profession.

After the Army I snuck into economic development in a small rural community, working part time during grad school. They cold not afford more, and I were happy to get somebody with an educational background in the firld. After a year in retail site selection I plotted a return to the field, and landed a job in another rural community. Over the next two years I was active in several organizations, built a good network, and was recommended for my current job by my predecessor before he left.
 

murdoctm

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what about working for a development company though? and i am an undergrad business major- looking to work now before i do any grad work. thanks for your help!
 
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In my Urban Planning program I have two concentrations; Community Development and Economic Development, which is a good combination I believe. They are somewhat related and you can always get job in CD for a few years get the necessary experience and then break into the ED profession.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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Buffalo - I can't really give you a good answer on entry into the development field. Just from what I have observed, most of the big homebuilders have planners, but are looking for someone with experience, to ba able to negotiate approvals for development plans. I do work with several commercial developers and have found that the planners they have on staff tend to have worked in the public sevtor first, and their job in the company is often something of a sales position to generate new business. It isn't a very attractive position, and all of the planners I have seen go to these companies leave in a year or two.

Chicago - Economic development is a great choice. What do you mean by community development? As I alluded to in another thread, the term is used to mean many things. I am director of a community development authority whose role is very much economic development. I know of several "community development directors" whose job includes planning, engineering, economic development, and even public works.
 
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As far as I understand it Economic Development and Community Development are closely related in that they are very policy based concentrations in my program at least. I have heard that if you concentrate in both then you will have a solid background with plenty of employment opportunities here in Chicago and perhaps elsewhere.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
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There are national organizations --try the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) or the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP). Try their web sites for a start. Both I think have career sections.

Plenty of Planners work for development companies. But it has been my experience that Developers like planners with a broad skill set--understanding of real estate, finance, as well as planning practice. Often, Developers will see a Planner working for a local juristiction and may approach them for hire based upon their knowledge/understanding of the local markets/process.

I started on the public side. I think working at the beginning of your career on the local level is invaluable, no matter what career path you wish to follow.
 
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