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Careers Career shift to something outside the office?

WinningDayz

Member
Messages
22
Points
2
Have any of you with a planning background transitioned to a job that doesn't involve sitting at a desk all day? Maybe something that involves working outside or frequent travel. I enjoy working as a planner but after three years in the field I don't know if I want to sit at a desk for the next thirty years.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
12,325
Points
52
In my early years I worked in campus planning and our clients were all over the country, not one was local so I was gone maybe a week a month.

So maybe think about working for a really large firm that has projects all over the place.

Or consider the national park service
 

Veloise

Cyburbian
Messages
5,787
Points
32
Site acquisition involves lots of running around. Drive to a jurisdiction, run in and pick up their zoning ordinance and talk to staff. Rinse and repeat. Paid meals and mileage.
Then there are site walks, which I did not need to attend, but it got me away from the office and the view of the parking lot. Communing with colleagues (some of whom had graduated HS), paid meals, someone else usually driving.
Zoning hearings: I used consultants, but a few times traveled to my projects' hearings.
A notable one: the proposal in front of the city commission was from a business owner who had tried several times to obtain permission to construct a tower behind their building. The officials requested proof that a communications company was actually interested in attaching. I walk in with my company nametag: boom.
Subsequent hearing: the business guy had created and brought along all sorts of charts, graphs, and 8x10 glossy photos to use in presenting his case for the tower, proposed as a flagpole with a very large flag on top. One of the officials, a veteran, offered his opening comment about 'merica and seeing that huge flag and yadda yadda. They went to call the question and my business friend tried to interrupt; he wanted them to see his supporting materials. From me he got a sharp elbow to the ribs. Approved, and we were done and out within 15 minutes.

Of course, when corporate realizes that their build plan is not based on reality, you'll be at your home desk sending out resumes again.

ETA: I worked in the wireless industry. When that stopped, I looked into wind towers, commercial site acq (all the fast food chains have real estate departments). Applied with our local 24/7 hypermart a couple of times. And just last year, when my fair state :mi: approved recreational marijuana, I noticed ads for zoning consultants to do essenially the same processes (without the pesky fall zones or towers-cause-cancer issues).
 
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Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
5,334
Points
36
In my early years I worked in campus planning and our clients were all over the country, not one was local so I was gone maybe a week a month.

So maybe think about working for a really large firm that has projects all over the place.

Or consider the national park service
Basically this - look to either fed government employment or the private sector. And, the private sector/dark side will be easier to get in to (added bonus: we have cookies).
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
468
Points
12
I feel you! I'm roughly the same experience level as you and have had your exact thoughts before.

Facilities and campus planning really gets you out and about in the community, as does community development/non-profit/advocacy work.
With consulting, you may or may not get to travel much, depending on your office and role. Usually they don't send junior planners out to bid or interview on projects. Even within consulting though, planning is mostly a desk job.
If you work for an international organization, then there are a lot more opportunities for field visits and travel, but even international orgs like WRI are mostly desk work writing policy reports.

Overall, planning and policy are very desk oriented. You could try pivoting more to engineering/facilities/capital type of work to get more physical and site experience?

The way to combat this might be to volunteer? Or try to submit proposals so you can present at a conference from time to time. That always invigorates me.
 
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howlen

Member
Messages
15
Points
1
Here are two planning related ideas--property appraiser and realtor.

I left municipal planning for the same reason over 20 years ago and found a wonderful career, far outside of my field, for someone who can't sit still--Elementary Educator.
I have not had a boring day, and writing lesson plans aren't that different than writing Goals, Objectives, and Policies.
Best of luck!
 
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