• 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.

How to spend the summer before graduate studies in urban planning?

FranzI

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
Out of the extensive experience of the Planning Community here, what would you guys recommended doing over Summer Break [3 months] to sharpen your professional-technical skills before Grad. School? I'm coming out of Liberal Arts insitution with majors in History & Liberal Studies [minors in International and Urban Studies], and would like to focus on picking up programing abilities in GISArch and foriegn language of Spainish. Looking for an Internship or Entry-Level Position as well, but finding it difficult with lack of selection in Metro-Atlanta and Richmond (D.C has several, but no offers yet...). Suggestions for a solid game plan?
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
11
Internship would be the best option, if you can get one. If not, work to save up money for grad school and try to travel a bit if you can - you won't have time or money later once you're in school!

As for technical skills, you'll probably take an Intro to GIS class in grad school. But it can't hurt to get a preview if you have time. Though, I would maybe focus more on sharpening your Excel and math skills - that's less taught in planning school but so useful.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,384
Points
34
I start with drinking heavily, but that's more OJT than anything else. If not, is there a short term program for Ameri-corp? I don't know the program myself. Make sure you can do your research and statistics stuff. Excel, SPSS, or whatever program your college likes. GIS is always a great skill. Knowing GIS will help get you hired. See if you can shadow some of the local planners if you can't get an internship. Sometimes you have to take the no pay internship. If you're going to shadow people try to get a good variety in like city, county, state level people and maybe different realms like traffic guys and land use people.
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
7
^ haha, OJT training... good one *glug glug glug* Cheers!

Back on point - my suggestion: take a breath, read some material on sustainable communities, get involved in your local politics, and really start to evaluate where/what you want to do when you graduate. MCP programs are over pretty quick, so start planning your break out from grad school.
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
11
shadowing

I heavily second shadowing and informational interviewing so you can get a sense of what planners do and form a sense of where you want to intern over the next summer if you are not able to do something "productive" per se this summer.
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
7
Side bar: did you find that informational interviews were successful?

I got a lot of feedback from professors in grad school to do that, but when I could actually get someone to agree to give me an informational interview, they went fairly horrible. Instead of helpful advice, I got grandiose boasting, self-promotion, etc. Nothing like I expected, so to this day I consider informational interviews a waste of time (WOT). Curious how yours went.
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
11
Sorry to hear that :( Mine went fairly well, but they are only helpful if you know enough about planning already that you can ask the right questions. Otherwise you just come off stupid and it's a waste of everyone's time. I guess mine was a unique case because I did my undergrad in planning as well, so I was already at least a little familiar with the issues and had attended APA conferences as well. My main reason for informational interviewing (I didn't shadow a planner, only got to a do a landscape architect, but I did a planning summer internship so that helped a lot) was to prepare for graduate school.

If you're not really sure yet what planning entails and just want to get a broad opinion, I would maybe get drinks with a younger professional (someone recently out of school) rather than pestering someone senior. That, and read a lot.
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
11
Any particular recommendations regarding what to read? Any specific blogs to follow? (I'm starting a graduate program as well in the fall!)

Thanks!
CityLab and Planetizen (sign up for their newsletter) should do the trick :)

I would also suggest attending a couple of community meetings, City council/Planning Commission meetings or volunteering with a neighborhood organization! Whatever is close to where you live. A lot of these meetings are posted online and/or through social media.
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
10,337
Points
32
CityLab and Planetizen (sign up for their newsletter) should do the trick :)

I would also suggest attending a couple of community meetings, City council/Planning Commission meetings or volunteering with a neighborhood organization! Whatever is close to where you live. A lot of these meetings are posted online and/or through social media.
I would second going to planning commissions hearing. They are open to the public and a great insight on how the system works.
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
7
I would second going to planning commissions hearing. They are open to the public and a great insight on how the system works.
Or doesn't work :r:, depending on the planning commission. It is eye-opening to see planning commissions approve projects that ignore master plans, city visioning/guidance documents, etc. It makes you realize that politics, more than anything, run the 'planning' of towns/cities. That's a great lesson to learn early on, and it stays with you.
 

The Terminator

Cyburbian
Messages
1,594
Points
21
I interned for the summers between my undergrad years, one for a community planning org and the other for a municipalist political party. Great learning experiences! Def try and intern and if not, enjoy your summer and get trashed!! Because you dont want to do that while studying, trust me I blew my undergrad studio because of depression/boozing. Got into a less design centric MUP anyway because I was quite strong elsewhere (and good graces) but still. One token I will leave here is that unpaid internships (like partying) should be left for undergrads.

My advice is to go the intern route, but also enjoy your summer and live it up! Because you want to devote yourself fully to getting the most out of your MUP.
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
11
Intern if you can, volunteer if you can't. Teach yourself a technical skill that can be used for anything, like Excel and data analysis- so that when you're in planning school, you can actually learn how to apply it to planning instead of spending half the time fiddling around asking the TA minor questions for every little function of Excel.

But don't forget to enjoy your summer - travel if you can! You won't get such a big stretch of time ever again except possibly the summer after graduation.
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,533
Points
21
I recommend travel; it's good for the soul and for the planning profession. Travel the world, ideally staying in one place for a while and pay attention to how that community works. If you're looking for more involvement, then get involved. Attend a Planning Board or City Council meeting; take a day to go chat with some municipal employees (or consultants if you're not looking at public service). It's fun and educational and you may not get the opportunity again for a while once you become an adult.
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Moderator
Messages
11,950
Points
31
I recommend travel; it's good for the soul and for the planning profession. Travel the world, ideally staying in one place for a while and pay attention to how that community works. If you're looking for more involvement, then get involved. Attend a Planning Board or City Council meeting; take a day to go chat with some municipal employees (or consultants if you're not looking at public service). It's fun and educational and you may not get the opportunity again for a while once you become an adult.
This!!!!! Seriously, you are going to have a busy two years ahead of you have fun and enjoy your summer.
 
Top