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internships/experience?

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i was just wondering what kind of qualifications are necessary to work in a planning office. i was thinking of getting an internship (i.e. volunteering) at a office just to get some experience and exposure to the day-to-day planning work before i even think of applying to grad school. i' won't be done with school until december '04, and my major is ethnic studies, but i have taken several environmental design courses and a city planning course.

what do you think i should do to pursue this course of action? i'm thinking that since i won't cost anything, people shouldn't mind too much that i'm hanging around the office, but i don't know... it seems there's a lot of politics within these offices (my observation from lurking on the forum).
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
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18,313
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If you're considering a career in this profession (or any profession, for that matter), an internship looks good on a resume--I know it helped me in landing my first paying job.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
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Internships are great and the sooner you get one the better. I got an internship while in grad school and I had no planning experience whatsoever. The internship taught me so much more than any class would. Usually they pay crappy, but don’t let that detract you. Often internships can turn into a full-time gig upon graduation. In addition you will likely make all kinds of contacts in the field, which will definitely help your job prospects later on.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
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There is IMHO nothing more valuable than an internship. You can take every class in the book and they cant teach you how to be a planner or what its like-get out there and get your hands dirty.

Good luck!
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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25,801
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I agree.
When I was in school, I too had an internship/part-time job.
While there I worked hard and contributed enough that they went to the County Commissioners and got me a pay raise, which just does not happen to often.
Also that experience lasted just over 2 yrs. - very valueable.
 

PlannerByDay

Cyburbian
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1,827
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Have you been to any Planning Commission meetings in your area. You could start by attending some of the meetings to see what issues your communtiy is facing

That way, when you go in to talk to the Planning Director about an internship or "slave labor" or in your cover letter you are informed with the communtiy and you can mention some of the issues or topics you are interested in working on.

I got a 6 month internship after graduation, it just worked out that once the internship was up the new budget year was beginning and they asked me to say on for another 6 months.

I got some great exp. and I know it helped me get my present job.

My $0.02, Go to some planning commission meetings, get your resume updated, and set up appointments to meet with the Planning Directors.

Good Luck and welcome to the forum.
 
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planning commi$$ion

PlannerByDay said:
Have you been to any Planning Commission meetings in your area. You could start by attending some of the meetings to see what issues your communtiy is facing
i have been to san francisco's planning commission meeting and boy was it educational. i can't believe that most of the commissioners were not trained planners but appointed... uhhh, citizens (for a lack of a better word). only one person was a planner, and i guess that was by design, but a few of the commissioners seemed unwilling to grant a variance just based on the fact that the building will not be adding any off street parking (and the fact that it would be TOTALLY impractical to put off street parking in a mid-block retail storefront, removing 2 metered parking spaces, and making it necessary to move the pole holding up the overhead wires for the electric bus didn't even cross their minds). i'm guessing that planning commissions are just "thank you for contributing to my election campaign" jobs.

but i did notice the folks working for the planning department did have their act together. too bad their only power was to recommend a plan.
 
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