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Careers I am having trouble finding entry-level planning jobs

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
Hello everyone. Last year I received a Master's degree in urban planning. I applied for various planning positions in government and in the private sector. I was offered a few interviews from these agencies and yet was not chosen as the best candidate. I only received feedback from a couple of agencies on the reason they didn't choose me. Both agencies said I lack planning experience, despite having a few internships during grad school. The other agencies never gave me feedback nor even contacted me. Mind you some all of these positions were entry-level. Also, I tried networking with students from my graduate program on LinkedIn, but I hardly received any assistance. There was one alum from my program that was one of my interviewer at one position I applied for, but I still didn't get the job. I pursued planning because I had a passion for it. And I pursued a master's degree in it because I thought it would be a surefire way of gaining employment in the field. But it seems like that's not the case. I really don't want to change career option and go back to school to get another degree. Are there anyone who faced a similar situation as I am? How have anyone got entry-level planning jobs? Even your first internships? Or had to look for jobs outside the planning profession to get their foot in the door?
 
Messages
2,651
Points
22
Welcome to Cyburbia.
This website is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and for 25 years planners have been posting here: "How do I get my foot in the door?" Even during the most difficult economic times, they did eventually get their foot in the door. (And then some!)
That's a sort of roundabout way of saying that you've come to the right place.

It's ~4:35 in the morning over here; I guess you're not surprised that the Cyburbian who is awake, online & alert is from 'The City That Never Sleeps'.
Your public location says that you're from Washington- is that the State or D.C.?
 
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RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
Welcome to Cyburbia.
This website is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and for 25 years planners have been posting here: "How do I get my foot in the door?" Even during the most difficult economic times, they did eventually get their foot in the door. (And then some!)
That's a sort of roundabout way of saying that you've come to the right place.

It's ~4:35 in the morning over here; I guess you're not surprised that the Cyburbian who is awake, online & alert is from 'The City That Never Sleeps'.
Your public location says that you're from Washington- is that the State or D.C.?

(By 5am-EDT I will have added more to this post.)
Hello Shellac. I published this thread over 4 hours ago and it's about time someone comment on it. I was a little concerned that I will get no replies to my question. I'm from Washington, DC.
 
Messages
2,651
Points
22
Hello Shellac. I published this thread over 4 hours ago and it's about time someone comment on it. I was a little concerned that I will get no replies to my question. I'm from Washington, DC.

The 'peak time' for participation on this website happens to be the 'traditional' work days and work hours across the U.S.:
'Peak time' is, very roughly, from 9am to 4pm, our time (EDT), on weekdays.

Participation is quite large during 'peak time'. Sometimes there are so many Cyburbians logged on that it's hard to 'keep up' with what's happening everywhere! (This is especially the case in the Friday Afternoon Club, but it could happen in any forum.)
 
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2,651
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22
Okay, I figured. I posted this thread at 12:21am and by this time everyone is relaxing. So tell me about yourself. Are you a planner?
I am not a planner by profession, ie. not an AICP, but rather a citizen planner.

There a few things to know about Cyburbia that you might find very useful.
First thing, after you make 5 posts, you get PM (private messaging) privileges and other benefits of full membership.
I am not in a position to guarantee any of this, but I've noticed that people who follow the easy minimally-invasive instructions, and have supplied an email address where the Cyburbia staff can contact them (if absolutely need be), seem to get PM capabilties and full membership quite quickly.
 
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Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,556
Points
42
Welcome to Cyburbia, RANDMAN. I am a planning director in a first ring suburb in the midwest and my experience right now is that we are not hiring due to covid-19, principally. We know our budget for next year is going to be tight, and might expect lay-offs in 2022 without federal intervention to cities and towns.

Have you looked into opportunities to volunteer in your desired area of planning (i.e., transportation, historic preservation, etc, etc)? I find two things with volunteering: one, it can lead to f/t employment with the group you are working for and two, it looks great on a resume because it wasn't required of you (as oppose to an internship, for example).

Tell us more about yourself - what excites you about planning? Private or public? Willing to relocate? You know, that kind of stuff. :cool:
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
12,679
Points
54
I think some of the problem is the pandemic - some communities have had to put hiring freezes on to see what will happen to their budgets next fiscal year - in my fair city, we had to take back an offer due to a hiring freeze

I would continue to network and be flexible about where you want to work - if you are in DC, are there federal jobs you can do while looking for the position that you really want?
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
5,534
Points
40
I would continue to network and be flexible about where you want to work - if you are in DC, are there federal jobs you can do while looking for the position that you really want?

^^^This. You're in D.C. - look at Federal job openings. And, beyond that, be geographically flexible - I wasn't, and it took me about 14 months to find a job in my chosen profession.
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
I think some of the problem is the pandemic - some communities have had to put hiring freezes on to see what will happen to their budgets next fiscal year - in my fair city, we had to take back an offer due to a hiring freeze

I would continue to network and be flexible about where you want to work - if you are in DC, are there federal jobs you can do while looking for the position that you really want?
Actually, I've started my job hunt before the pandemic. And I've applied to a couple of federal jobs and I still either didn't hear back from them or wasn't selected.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
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Moderator
Messages
12,679
Points
54
Actually, I've started my job hunt before the pandemic. And I've applied to a couple of federal jobs and I still either didn't hear back from them or wasn't selected.

oh I am sorry - maybe use the services of a career coach or adviser? Sometimes it's the luck of the draw that we don't get a job we apply for, maybe because it's not the right job for you, the right fit, that is, you would be miserable there if you did get it, you just don't know that yet kind of thing, or, maybe you need to up your game and an adviser can help with that. I have interviewed horribly for jobs I thought I wanted and really, subconsciously, I think I sank myself as later I found out, in those cases, that those places were not good places to work and it would have been a bad experience. Another time, I interviewed horribly, and someone called to put in a good word for me, I got the second interview, got the job and I loved being there (I'd still be there is other circumstances hadn't gotten in the way) so it's hard to know, I guess, is the moral of this paragraph - but definitely go see a career professional and truly, trust your instincts
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
Welcome to Cyburbia, RANDMAN. I am a planning director in a first ring suburb in the midwest and my experience right now is that we are not hiring due to covid-19, principally. We know our budget for next year is going to be tight, and might expect lay-offs in 2022 without federal intervention to cities and towns.

Have you looked into opportunities to volunteer in your desired area of planning (i.e., transportation, historic preservation, etc, etc)? I find two things with volunteering: one, it can lead to f/t employment with the group you are working for and two, it looks great on a resume because it wasn't required of you (as oppose to an internship, for example).

Tell us more about yourself - what excites you about planning? Private or public? Willing to relocate? You know, that kind of stuff. :cool:
My passion for planning is rooted from geography and maps. When I was a kid I loved reading maps. I even imagined building cities in my head. I also watched the weather channel alot because it used maps and i got caught up in to thinking that I wanted to be a meteorologist and falsely believed it was passion until graduating college. After college I found I was not genuinely passionate about meteorology because it was more science based and less geography. Meanwhile, I gained an exorbitant passion for cities and their evolving growth. I wondered what I could do with this passion, so I looked at a university curriculum online and looked under the architecture and planning program. At first I thought planning was more related to architecture but after talking with a professor at that school he told me otherwise. He gave me a pamphlet describing their program and saw the APA link listed. So I visited APA website for the first time and saw the motto: Making great communities happen. Then I automatically discovered my calling in the city planning profession. My goal is to definitely work for the public sector since their work is considered public service. I am not financially stable to relocate.

oh I am sorry - maybe use the services of a career coach or adviser? Sometimes it's the luck of the draw that we don't get a job we apply for, maybe because it's not the right job for you, the right fit, that is, you would be miserable there if you did get it, you just don't know that yet kind of thing, or, maybe you need to up your game and an adviser can help with that. I have interviewed horribly for jobs I thought I wanted and really, subconsciously, I think I sank myself as later I found out, in those cases, that those places were not good places to work and it would have been a bad experience. Another time, I interviewed horribly, and someone called to put in a good word for me, I got the second interview, got the job and I loved being there (I'd still be there is other circumstances hadn't gotten in the way) so it's hard to know, I guess, is the moral of this paragraph - but definitely go see a career professional and truly, trust your instincts
This is good advice. So how were you able to get the job that you have now?
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
15,108
Points
52
I just think it's a hard job market right now, especially for DC. The feds aren't hiring much right now plus DC has a federally controlled budget so they might not be hiring much. I'm not sure how the private sector market is out there and you have no state or county agencies unless you feel like commuting, which might not be a bad idea. I'm in the Phoenix area and just not seeing a lot right now.
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
13,452
Points
55
NC has a few jobs opening up here & there.

When I entered the the job market, there was a mini-downturn going on. I sent out 125 resumes (& that would be letters because there was no online), received 6 interviews across the southeast & one job offer that was not ideal, but it was a job to start building the work experience side of the resume.
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
Are you still doing internships or otherwise working in the field? If not, I would suggest doing so.
I did a few internships during grad school and still was denied employment despite mentioning it on my resume.

NC has a few jobs opening up here & there.

When I entered the the job market, there was a mini-downturn going on. I sent out 125 resumes (& that would be letters because there was no online), received 6 interviews across the southeast & one job offer that was not ideal, but it was a job to start building the work experience side of the resume.
Which part of NC are you talking about? Because i have relatives in NC.
 

arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
Messages
6,683
Points
33
OP. Reading over your posts, you mentioned you did a few internships. What is a "few"? Do you have any work products that were a part of that internship? How does your portfolio look like? Does it include that work effort, or other school projects? As others suggested, you may want to look at continuing those internships. 2nd, with COVID, it really has FUBARd agencies budgets. Got to pound the pavement. Looking for a job is a whole job in of itself. If you can, cast a wide net if you can. I know DC is sexy and glamorous, but hey, get some chops in Texas, where there are a few jobs, get your experience, and move on. (Elizabethtown KY is hiring, if it worked for Orlando Bloom and Kristen Dunst, it can work for you ;) )

Unfortunately, folks like myself look for fit. If you aren't going to meet our needs, I will pass. This means your cover letter needs to address what the job description is looking for and your resume should reflect that. If I am looking for a person that has "GIS skills and abilities" I will question you on what you can do, not just "oh I worked on GIS in a few courses". If a job asks for "customer service" needs and don't have a planning job, but worked in retail or at a restaurant, you better believe I will elevate that versus someone who hasn't worked at all. Ultimately this is a sell job. You need to sell me why I should hire you. Where your degree is from, or where you interned don't mean shit if you aren't what I am looking for. Sorry to be so blunt bro.

If you need someone to look at your portfolio and cover letter I would be happy to.
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
OP. Reading over your posts, you mentioned you did a few internships. What is a "few"? Do you have any work products that were a part of that internship? How does your portfolio look like? Does it include that work effort, or other school projects? As others suggested, you may want to look at continuing those internships. 2nd, with COVID, it really has FUBARd agencies budgets. Got to pound the pavement. Looking for a job is a whole job in of itself. If you can, cast a wide net if you can. I know DC is sexy and glamorous, but hey, get some chops in Texas, where there are a few jobs, get your experience, and move on. (Elizabethtown KY is hiring, if it worked for Orlando Bloom and Kristen Dunst, it can work for you ;) )

Unfortunately, folks like myself look for fit. If you aren't going to meet our needs, I will pass. This means your cover letter needs to address what the job description is looking for and your resume should reflect that. If I am looking for a person that has "GIS skills and abilities" I will question you on what you can do, not just "oh I worked on GIS in a few courses". If a job asks for "customer service" needs and don't have a planning job, but worked in retail or at a restaurant, you better believe I will elevate that versus someone who hasn't worked at all. Ultimately this is a sell job. You need to sell me why I should hire you. Where your degree is from, or where you interned don't mean shit if you aren't what I am looking for. Sorry to be so blunt bro.

If you need someone to look at your portfolio and cover letter I would be happy t
I was still denied some jobs regardless of whether my skills matched what they were looking for. There was one job in particular that required proficiency in GIS, which is what I included in my resume, and still was not selected.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
706
Points
30
I'd say anything you can do to show you have worked, and can work with people is going to be important. Although I need people with skills when I'm hiring, I couldn't care less where or how they went to school for entry-level positions. I have hired people into entry-level who had a BS and were "planning curious" and I have watched people with master's degrees crash and burn because they just didn't get the work done or couldn't work on a team.

When I do my evaluations, I look at skills for my employees on a spectrum of what they have acquired and what they need to go the the next level- in other words, I don't "rate" them on the skills they have, but rather identify what we need to do to keep that skillset fresh and updated. What do I rate? I have metrics for punctuality, tenacity, innovation, and overall work ethic. I'm looking for people who can show up and do the work, day after day, who will be pleasant to work with, and who will elevate the overall performance of my little team. This means when I'm making the first sort through a stack of applications, I'm looking for these things in the cover letter, before I ever even bother with the resume.

In an interview- again, I'm not looking for people to tell me how great they are- I want to see them think on their feet, I want to see them handle curveballs, and mostly, I want to know if it's a person I want to spend more hours with every day than my own family and friends. If I'm interviewing somebody, I already know they can do the job, now I want to know if they will do the job.
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
5,534
Points
40
I did a few internships during grad school and still was denied employment despite mentioning it on my resume.

I was still denied some jobs regardless of whether my skills matched what they were looking for.

Your sense of entitlement is mildly astonishing. As a hiring manager, may I suggest that you lose the term "denied" from your frame of reference when it comes to applying for jobs? Not getting hired is a completely different thing from being "denied" employment. Nothing on your resume or in your skill set guarantees you any job.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
12,679
Points
54
I'd say anything you can do to show you have worked, and can work with people is going to be important. Although I need people with skills when I'm hiring, I couldn't care less where or how they went to school for entry-level positions. I have hired people into entry-level who had a BS and were "planning curious" and I have watched people with master's degrees crash and burn because they just didn't get the work done or couldn't work on a team.

When I do my evaluations, I look at skills for my employees on a spectrum of what they have acquired and what they need to go the the next level- in other words, I don't "rate" them on the skills they have, but rather identify what we need to do to keep that skillset fresh and updated. What do I rate? I have metrics for punctuality, tenacity, innovation, and overall work ethic. I'm looking for people who can show up and do the work, day after day, who will be pleasant to work with, and who will elevate the overall performance of my little team. This means when I'm making the first sort through a stack of applications, I'm looking for these things in the cover letter, before I ever even bother with the resume.

In an interview- again, I'm not looking for people to tell me how great they are- I want to see them think on their feet, I want to see them handle curveballs, and mostly, I want to know if it's a person I want to spend more hours with every day than my own family and friends. If I'm interviewing somebody, I already know they can do the job, now I want to know if they will do the job.

"planning curious" is the post of the day
 

dw914er

Cyburbian
Messages
1,492
Points
20
I did a few internships during grad school and still was denied employment despite mentioning it on my resume.


Which part of NC are you talking about? Because i have relatives in NC.
You did not answer my question. What are you doing now to help market you for future jobs? Also, just because you have some degree of relevant experience is not necessarily going to mean you are going to get the job. Your skillset, personal drive, and "fit" for the organization all factor into the hiring process.
 

arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
Messages
6,683
Points
33
I was still denied some jobs regardless of whether my skills matched what they were looking for. There was one job in particular that required proficiency in GIS, which is what I included in my resume, and still was not selected.
you aren't "denied" a job, you just were not selected. What do you consider "proficiency"? Your definition and my definition are more than likely completely different. Again, getting a job is a full time job of itself. When you see a job posting to you speak to the hiring manager or reach out to HR on what they are looking for and then tailor your cover letter and resume to match.

Again, just because you have a degree doesn't entitle you to a job. Your posts are coming off as entitlement versus frustration. It's okay to be frustrated with the whole process. Again, this is all about "fit". Does this person fit our values, and needs in my organization. Your posts are coming off as you would not be a fit. Sorry, again just trying to not sugar coat this at all. You can call me a douche or whatever, but attitude goes a long way in obtaining employment. And similar to Dw914er's post you didn't answer any of my questions to help us set you up in a good direction.
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
13,452
Points
55
I did a few internships during grad school and still was denied employment despite mentioning it on my resume.


Which part of NC are you talking about? Because i have relatives in NC.

This one showed up today:

Person County is currently seeking candidates for a Planner I position with the County’s Planning and Zoning Department. Person County is located just north of Durham and is very convenient to the Raleigh-Durham area. This would be a great opportunity for a recent graduate or someone with a few years of experience.

A detailed explanation of the position, along with salary, benefits, education and required experience is contained in the link below.

https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url...oK8rX68CMkut15DhHZUJqUZEDj6mLl54ktwDY,&typo=1

Should you have any questions about the position, please contact Lori Oakley, Planning Director, at 336-597-7423 or at loakley@personcountync.gov.

Thanks,
Lori Oakley, AICP, CZO
Planning Director
 

P1nr_Bill

Cyburbian
Messages
57
Points
5
Times are tough right now. They were when I graduated with my masters in 2008, height of the great recession. I sent out over 250 applications, got about 50 rejection letters or emails, many saying they just had too many applicants. Of those I got maybe half a dozen phone interviews and 2 or 3 in person interviews. I ended up finding some things.

If you want to work in the private sector (consulting firm, etc) I would seek out a small but stable/growing company and take whatever they can give you. Entry level pay is likely low and there's a lot of pressure on working billable hours, but it's definitely how to get started. Maybe even just start with a paid internship. If you can get in at a major national firm, good luck, but it's tough.
If your goal is public sector planning work, be persistent. It is very hard to get a food in the door. If you can manage to make some connections in your area. Local politicians sometimes have opportunities in constituent services work or local cambers of commerce or other NGOs that might have a hand in economic development and work closely with government could be a good place to start and make connections.

Meanwhile look for planning-adjacent work. Maybe a permit expediter or a less-directly professional job - something low-level in real estate development perhaps. You mention your passion in mapping. I assume you are adept at GIS - there are a lot of opportunities outside planning in data analysis that uses GIS extensively. I'd look for data analysis firms, boards of elections, even marketing companies... focus on the skills you have that they're looking for rather than job title or industry.

Cold-call. Reach out to an employer in your area that might not have a job posted but is doing the kind of work you would love and ask if they anticipate any upcoming entry positions. Or just see if you can get on a mailing list or ask if you could get lunch or a cup of coffee with an employee to find out about what working in the field/agency/company is like (this is easiest if you get a direct person to contact at one).

IF you do find something less than perfect, outside of your preferred career path, I would recommend that you do the job and keep looking elsewhere. You don't want to get too rooted in something you don't want to ultimately stay in, however be open minded and you might find something you hadn't thought you would like and thrive in. It's a balance.

Planning is a very broad field and as others have mentioned a degree and sparse resume don't grantee you employment. You've got to focus on your skills until you can gain some real experience, and and network as much as you can - make connections IN PERSON! Not just online. Find local events that have to do with the field and get involved. Attend public meetings or presentations, etc.

Good luck!
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
You did not answer my question. What are you doing now to help market you for future jobs? Also, just because you have some degree of relevant experience is not necessarily going to mean you are going to get the job. Your skillset, personal drive, and "fit" for the organization all factor into the hiring process.
dw914er I am sorry I did not answer your question. Right now, I am not doing any internships. All I've done during this pandemic is apply for jobs. Just for the record I mentioned in my cover letter my personal attributes.
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
OP. Reading over your posts, you mentioned you did a few internships. What is a "few"? Do you have any work products that were a part of that internship? How does your portfolio look like? Does it include that work effort, or other school projects? As others suggested, you may want to look at continuing those internships. 2nd, with COVID, it really has FUBARd agencies budgets. Got to pound the pavement. Looking for a job is a whole job in of itself. If you can, cast a wide net if you can. I know DC is sexy and glamorous, but hey, get some chops in Texas, where there are a few jobs, get your experience, and move on. (Elizabethtown KY is hiring, if it worked for Orlando Bloom and Kristen Dunst, it can work for you ;) )

Unfortunately, folks like myself look for fit. If you aren't going to meet our needs, I will pass. This means your cover letter needs to address what the job description is looking for and your resume should reflect that. If I am looking for a person that has "GIS skills and abilities" I will question you on what you can do, not just "oh I worked on GIS in a few courses". If a job asks for "customer service" needs and don't have a planning job, but worked in retail or at a restaurant, you better believe I will elevate that versus someone who hasn't worked at all. Ultimately this is a sell job. You need to sell me why I should hire you. Where your degree is from, or where you interned don't mean shit if you aren't what I am looking for. Sorry to be so blunt bro.

If you need someone to look at your portfolio and cover letter I would be happy to.
I only did four internships during grad school. I did research report for one internship, however, it was incomplete because the internship term ended before I could finish it. As for GIS, I was only taught the basics such as labeling, thematic mapping, joining data. We wasn't taught everything. I happen to learn geocoding, buffering, clipping, dissolving maps on my own and used them for mapping in other classes.
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
you aren't "denied" a job, you just were not selected. What do you consider "proficiency"? Your definition and my definition are more than likely completely different. Again, getting a job is a full time job of itself. When you see a job posting to you speak to the hiring manager or reach out to HR on what they are looking for and then tailor your cover letter and resume to match.

Again, just because you have a degree doesn't entitle you to a job. Your posts are coming off as entitlement versus frustration. It's okay to be frustrated with the whole process. Again, this is all about "fit". Does this person fit our values, and needs in my organization. Your posts are coming off as you would not be a fit. Sorry, again just trying to not sugar coat this at all. You can call me a douche or whatever, but attitude goes a long way in obtaining employment. And similar to Dw914er's post you didn't answer any of my questions to help us set you up in a good direction.
arcplans. Tell me if what I am going to tell you aligns with your definition of "proficiency." What I mean by proficiency is that I can learn and how to do a task quickly with clear understanding and with limited flaws. In other words, it is aptitude. And when I wrote this thread I was not intentionally coming across entitled. In fact, I wrote this thread because I am frustrated that I went to school x number of years for the planning degree along with having four internships under my belt and still having no luck landing an entry-level planning job.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,961
Points
41
...I wrote this thread because I am frustrated that I went to school x number of years for the planning degree along with having four internships under my belt and still having no luck landing an entry-level planning job.
And this is what comes across as entitled. Do you realize how many hundreds (or thousands) of people can say the exact same thing in terms of education and internships? Nothing you have written in this entire thread shows me anything that would separate you from the stack of resumes/applications that would come across my desk.

You have to make yourself stand out, and find out as much about the culture and characteristics of an employer before you even apply. You must show those of us that do the hiring that you will FIT in the organization. Job and personality fit account for more than anything else when I've made hiring decisions in the past.
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
13,452
Points
55
Here's another in the mountains:

Planner 1/GIS Technician - The Town of Waynesville (pop. 10,000+), the county seat for Haywood, NC, is seeking a Planner 1/GIS technician to join the Development Services Department team. This position provides administrative, technical, and project support to code compliance, permitting, zoning and long-range planning needs for a growing community west of Asheville, and the “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.” Duties include developing planning studies and reports, evaluating land use regulations, rezoning requests, code compliance, and assisting with special projects, programs and other initiatives. Candidates must have GIS skills, the ability to prepare and communicate written and oral reports, and to process complex information and tasks. Bachelor’s or master’s degree or equivalent experience in planning and development, project management, and ArcView required. Candidates with certifications such as CFM, CZO, or AICP, LID, or those with an MPA or MPP degree preferred. This is a permanent, full-time position (40 hours per week), with some weekends and overtime necessary. Salary starts at $40,000 with room for increase based on qualifications and/or performance.

For more information, see the Town’s website:

https://www.waynesvillenc.gov/sites/default/files/inline-files/Planner%201-%20Development%20Services%2010-29-20.pdf

Elizabeth Teague, AICP, CTP, CFM | Development Services Director
Town of Waynesville, NC
9 S. Main Street | PO Box 100 | Waynesville, NC 28786
(o) 828.456.2004 | (f) 828.452.1492
eteague@waynesvillenc.gov |
www.waynesvillenc.gov
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
15,108
Points
52
arcplans. Tell me if what I am going to tell you aligns with your definition of "proficiency." What I mean by proficiency is that I can learn and how to do a task quickly with clear understanding and with limited flaws. In other words, it is aptitude. And when I wrote this thread I was not intentionally coming across entitled. In fact, I wrote this thread because I am frustrated that I went to school x number of years for the planning degree along with having four internships under my belt and still having no luck landing an entry-level planning job.
Everyone will have different advice on interviews, but I'll throw this out there...

Instead of telling me you can learn things quickly - and don't mention flaws, tell me a story. Tell me about how you had to do a GIS or other task and how you never did it before, but after doing some research you figured it out and provided a great result. Leave the flaws out or point out that you noticed some flaw and corrected it.

I like to tell stories in interviews. A time when I did something exactly like they're asking about. It shows that I've done this thing. Make a list of everything you did in your internships and then be able to tell a story about each. You might not use them all, but you'll have things ready.
I worked on a project to...
I helped senior staff by...
Did you change the way they did anything?
Did you improve work flow or make work easier somehow?
Did you work on GIS, plats, site plans, zoning...
Have you ever dealt with an angry customer - doesn't have to be an intern story. If you worked retail that counts.

You want to leave the interview team with the thought like, this guy did __ or this guy has used __ program and that could help us.
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
13,452
Points
55
and another in the middle of the state

The Planning and Development Services Department is looking for an enthusiastic solutions-oriented individual to join the Land Use Administration team! The position is primarily responsible for reviewing development plans for compliance with our zoning ordinances, but the team is transitioning to a more integrated approach to land use administration that will see this position more directly involved with other aspects of the profession. More information can be found on the City’s website: https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/winstonsalemnc/jobs/2895872/zoning-plans-examiner-2582?page=3&pagetype=jobOpportunitiesJobs.

Desmond Corley, AICP, CZO
Land Use Coordinator
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning and Development Services
100 E First Street, Suite 201
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
p: 336.747.7065 Ι e: desmondc@cityofws.org
 

arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
Messages
6,683
Points
33
arcplans. Tell me if what I am going to tell you aligns with your definition of "proficiency." What I mean by proficiency is that I can learn and how to do a task quickly with clear understanding and with limited flaws. In other words, it is aptitude. And when I wrote this thread I was not intentionally coming across entitled. In fact, I wrote this thread because I am frustrated that I went to school x number of years for the planning degree along with having four internships under my belt and still having no luck landing an entry-level planning job.
Sorry, that's not proficiency. It means, if I give you a task in GIS, I expect you will know how to execute it with minimal or no supervision, with minimal billable hours as possible if you are in a private sector gig. It's not "I can learn." Now saying "knowledge of GIS" means, you know what you are doing, but need to still need to learn the ropes, with some OJT (on the job training). And that to me is a positive because I can meld you the way I want you to do a task.

Again, it is just coming across as entitled. If you say "hey guys, I have four internships in my belt and number of planning degrees, still no luck, what am I doing wrong and what pointers can you give" is different from your 4 internships and x number of years of school. When I read this it comes across as:

So what? I had 1 internship. 1 internship and 4 years of school. Got employed before graduation. Fit, attitude, and sold myself that I am the dude that you need.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
12,679
Points
54
you may want to consider an informational interview - even if a planning director isn't looking, often they will give you 30 minutes to help you out

in a pandemic world, that might be on zoom but it's good to hone that skill
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
Some people on this post say that they will give less regard for degreesin the hiring processes. Tell me, why do the employers require master degreees in the qualifications? Are master degrees really important?
 
Messages
2,651
Points
22
Some people on this post say that they will give less regard for degreesin the hiring processes. Tell me, why do the employers require master degreees in the qualifications? Are master degrees really important?
Since I am not a planner by profession, and do not hire people in the planning profession, I'm not in the position to answer these questions except in the most general of terms.

Unless you are set on working in a very large city, seriously consider applying to one or more of the jobs in North Carolina that Planit posted on this thread.

If you'd prefer to live and work in a very large city, seriously consider adding New York City to your list. The hiring freezes for planning jobs and planning-related jobs are finally in the process of being removed. The cost of living is not so high when you consider that the starting salaries are higher--about on par with the cost of living. If you're interested in NYC residency and employment then please PM me.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
15,108
Points
52
I think in the planning market degrees are less of an issue. Most people have a master's in planning or some similar degree so the competition starts there. It's not the we're disregarding the degree, it's that everyone has one.
 

dw914er

Cyburbian
Messages
1,492
Points
20
Some people on this post say that they will give less regard for degreesin the hiring processes. Tell me, why do the employers require master degreees in the qualifications? Are master degrees really important?

When I am hiring, I am looking for the full package. A degree is part of the job requirements, but everything else has to sell me on hiring the person. I would strongly suggest you get another internship while you are looking for jobs. You will continue to grow in a professional manner, you'll show your drive to learn, and you may likely make contacts to help land a full time job.
 

arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
Messages
6,683
Points
33
Some people on this post say that they will give less regard for degreesin the hiring processes. Tell me, why do the employers require master degreees in the qualifications? Are master degrees really important?
It's not the disregard for the degree. As others have pointed out, the degree is like the ID requirement to enter a club, you have to have one, or you don't get in. Not everyone has a master's degree (I do not for instance). What the disregard is that you have to have one. Where it comes from don't mean a damn thing. You can get one from Cornell, some ivy league school, or state school, or even trump university (non-accredited). The point is, that's the baseline. From there it is the entire package we look at.
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
5,534
Points
40
You can get one from Cornell, some ivy league school, or state school, or even trump university (non-accredited).

Off-topic, and apologies to RANDMAN for the quick thread hijack - I have an acquaintance with a MBA from Cornell - it's fun to give him crap about it being the equivalent of a Fisher-Price My First Ivy League Degree.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming...
 

gtpeach

Cyburbian
Messages
2,159
Points
22
Here's a position in Fluvanna County - it's a rural county between Richmond and Charlottesville in VA, so kind of a best of both worlds situation (rural areas have less applicants, but you can still live in an urban area if you would like to). https://www.vaco.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Planner-GIS-Tech-Fluvanna-County.pdf

These are two good resources for local government jobs in VA (not specific to planning):

I might also suggest paying someone to help you put together your resume and cover letters. It'll be somewhat expensive, but it's invaluable to know that the first piece of information someone that may want to hire you down the road is reviewing is highly polished.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
706
Points
30
Some people on this post say that they will give less regard for degreesin the hiring processes. Tell me, why do the employers require master degreees in the qualifications? Are master degrees really important?
Depends on the position- If I'm looking for a planner who's not entry level, I want to see Master's plus AICP or an equivalent- I want the education and the experience, but given a hiring pool where people all have one and not the other, I'm going to go for experience. (hence why all of our job descriptions look for "Master's or equivalent")

A master's is not nothing. AICP is not nothing. But neither are any sort of indication by themselves of what someone will be like to work with or manage. I know from my own school experiences that there are people who got the same degrees I got that I would never hire. I have met AICPs who couldn't plan their way out of a paper bag. But a planner with a few years experience- you'll be able to look at that experience, talk to references, and very quickly figure out if they are the real deal.
 

JLyon

Member
Messages
27
Points
2
you may need to look at coming in as a Permit/Planning Tech, learn the environment and move up internally. At my previous city the Planning Director and other Planners started in a Planning Tech and shows aptitude and willing to learn the ins and out and moved up after a few years. It is not easy and you're competing against many people.
If you can work a Grad Degree go with it. ESRI has a personal license you can get for $100 to learn the software at home and better prep yourself.

Not easy but also it is how you might carry yourself in the interviews, whether phone or in-person.
 

BikeBelle

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
There were a lot of really good points and suggestions made on here, but I thought I would chime in as I'm on the greener-side of the career scale. I graduated with my masters in 2016, have now been working as a city transportation planner for the last 3 years, and recently got my AICP (I know there are mixed feelings about that on here, but that's a discussion for another day). I've also recently been on the interview panel a few times for entry-level positions and have started to get a sense of what is desired and/or not desired in potential hires.

You mentioned that you're passionate about cities, but that is such a large scope, I would suggest narrowing it does even further and figuring out your "story" or professional 'mission statement'. For example, I chose to really focus on transportation (specifically active transportation). Other's chose to focus on community development/planning, development in general, green infrastructure, sustainability, long-range planning, etc. When I was choosing my internships, I intentionally made sure that they were in-line with that focus. We look for that same thing when interviewing potential candidates. If you haven't suggest looking at your previous internships and figuring out what that story is for you (i.e. where have you been and where are you trying to go). The jobs that you're applying for should fit somewhere in that story (although it can be a loose connection at first).

I would also agree with others that many of your comments come off as sounding as if you believed you are owed something, both about your degree and in general comments you're made. For example, you made a follow up to your original post about it being up for 4 hours and not receiving any comments - just because you posted something does not mean that your entitled to immediate responses. You many be carrying that same tone into your interviews, which would definitely be a big red flag for us when interviewing. It may not be intentional, but I would spend some time getting feedback from others. Have people review your CV's. When you don't get a job that you interviewed for, follow up with them, and ask for feedback on how you can improve (you should always follow up, even if its just to thank them for the opportunity to interview). There is a thin line between being confident and entitled and you may be unintentionally flirting with that line.

Lastly, have patience. There are a lot of really talented people graduating with masters in urban planning. I've had friends that, even after having a few years of job experience under their belt, have put out over 150 job applications before landing something. And that was before the pandemic. Patience will serve you well not just in the job hunt, but also througout your career.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,494
Points
27
My advice is to apply for any job anywhere. You have to start somewhere. I took my first job in a city in another state that I knew would not stay in for long. I was recently married, too. and my wife was in school. I went knowing that APA ranked this state last in the nation for planner pay. But I had to start somewhere. Don't geographically limit yourself unless there are extenuating circumstances.
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
12
Points
1
There were a lot of really good points and suggestions made on here, but I thought I would chime in as I'm on the greener-side of the career scale. I graduated with my masters in 2016, have now been working as a city transportation planner for the last 3 years, and recently got my AICP (I know there are mixed feelings about that on here, but that's a discussion for another day). I've also recently been on the interview panel a few times for entry-level positions and have started to get a sense of what is desired and/or not desired in potential hires.

You mentioned that you're passionate about cities, but that is such a large scope, I would suggest narrowing it does even further and figuring out your "story" or professional 'mission statement'. For example, I chose to really focus on transportation (specifically active transportation). Other's chose to focus on community development/planning, development in general, green infrastructure, sustainability, long-range planning, etc. When I was choosing my internships, I intentionally made sure that they were in-line with that focus. We look for that same thing when interviewing potential candidates. If you haven't suggest looking at your previous internships and figuring out what that story is for you (i.e. where have you been and where are you trying to go). The jobs that you're applying for should fit somewhere in that story (although it can be a loose connection at first).

I would also agree with others that many of your comments come off as sounding as if you believed you are owed something, both about your degree and in general comments you're made. For example, you made a follow up to your original post about it being up for 4 hours and not receiving any comments - just because you posted something does not mean that your entitled to immediate responses. You many be carrying that same tone into your interviews, which would definitely be a big red flag for us when interviewing. It may not be intentional, but I would spend some time getting feedback from others. Have people review your CV's. When you don't get a job that you interviewed for, follow up with them, and ask for feedback on how you can improve (you should always follow up, even if its just to thank them for the opportunity to interview). There is a thin line between being confident and entitled and you may be unintentionally flirting with that line.

Lastly, have patience. There are a lot of really talented people graduating with masters in urban planning. I've had friends that, even after having a few years of job experience under their belt, have put out over 150 job applications before landing something. And that was before the pandemic. Patience will serve you well not just in the job hunt, but also througout your career.
What were your master's in and how did you become a city transportation planner? Are you good at math?
 
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