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introduction and questions

jpgurl

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Hi--

My name is Jana. I've been lurking here for a while and would like to ask your opinion about my situation.

I am considering a career change. I have been working in advertising as a print and web graphic production artist for the last 12 years. I do not have formal training as a designer and have peaked professionally and financially. Thus I am considering a career change.

I have an undergrad in Geography. I plan to go back to school to get either a Bachelor's or a Master's. I cannot relocate and I am considering Southwest Texas. I know it is not an accredited program. I am considering another Bachelor's in Geography, focusing on Urban Planning and GIS. I am also considering a Master's but frankly my first go round at undergrad was pathetic, thus could prevent getting into the Master's program.

Has anyone here ever done a career change or hired someone that has? Any positive or negative opinions on this? And does two degrees in Geography sound ridiculous? Any other advice is welcome. And thanks!
 

SlaveToTheGrind

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1,244
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jpgurl said:
Hi--

I cannot relocate and I am considering Southwest Texas. I know it is not an accredited program. I am considering another Bachelor's in Geography, focusing on Urban Planning and GIS.
Welcome, Jana. My degree is not accredited either and has not caused me any problems. I work in the intermountain west and think accredited degrees may be more heavily weighed in the east. There are plenty of jobs out there with more competition in the east or west coats areas. I have applied for jobs in California where 150 people applied and jobs in this area where 25 applied.

Just some information from my perspective.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
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I changed careers. My undergrad was in Wildlife Biology and worked in that field for 5-6 and went back and got the Masters. I don't think the cange makes any difference. Two undergrads in geography probably doesn't make any sense though.
 

Cardinal

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10,080
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I doubt many of us have much formal training in design, so with your work experience you may be a bit ahead of the game. I would also tell you that your experience has some tie-in to economic development, if that aspect of planning appeals to you at all.

Don't be too concerned about your undergraduate grades. At this point, they won't matter much unless you are applying to big-league, snobby school. Hopefully you do well on your GRE and can convince your department that you did not do well as an undergrad simply because you lacked focus. Your work experience should count for something here as well. If they hesitate, audit a couple classes and prove yourself to faculty who will be willing to vouch for you. Getting a second bachelor's degree in almost anything, but particularly a field in which you already hold a degree, is not going to help you at all.
 
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H

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2,850
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24
Go for it! My undergrad was is Psychology, nothing to do with planning, though it actually does come in handy for the much needed self-therapy ;)

And I worked for 3 years before returning to grad school in mortgage finance / real estate.

Seriously, there were people in my grad school class with all sorts of various backgrounds. I would say the planning background was the minority.

If you have a geography degree, I am sure you have a good head start. Study up for the GRE to mitigate your “first go around” and I am sure everything will be fine.

Good luck :)
 

Zoning Goddess

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I agree, it's best to go to grad school at this point. Perhaps you could get a position as a Planning Tech or a related position as you go through school? Surf the Web, talk to Planners in your area to see what current skills you need.

I have worked with several planners who came from other fields (manufacturing, law, etc.). They had good writing and presentation skills and a working knowledge of current planning issues, and did very well in their career changes.
 

Suburb Repairman

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Welcome, future Bobcat, from a current Bobcat! If you have time for campus life, let me know--I'm president of the Planning Student Organization.

Southwest Texas has Master of Applied Geography programs in both GIS and Land Use Analysis. GIS goes even a step further with a PhD available. Since you're undergrad is 12 years old, the GPA shouldn't be as important. Study up for the GRE though, and remember it has a writing sample now, too.

Also, some of the professors do outside consulting for comprehensive plans, etc. They have student positions that are great for experience and pay pretty well.

Don't get to worked up about accreditation. Accreditation does not always mean better.
 

Habanero

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Suburb Repairman said:


Don't get to worked up about accreditation. Accreditation does not always mean better.
And from a Bobcat alum, the geography department is not APA accredited because we have too many working professionals that are also professors (personally, I would rather have someone who knows what it goin on in the world rather than someone who only knows the world of planning from 10-30 years ago).
 

NHPlanner

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Welcome! :beer:

I'll agree with giff, the masters makes more sense than trying for a second bachelors.
 

Runner

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Southwest, SOUTHWEST?? We don't need no stinkin Southwest!!

Don't you mean: Texas State University-San Marcos :) :)
Press Release

But on a more serious note, I agree that a second bachelors would not be as important as getting a masters. Another option to the MAG degree at "Texas State" is the MPA program with an Urban Planning concentration. It's an excellent program with wide applications.

But when you are in San Marcos avoid this place, it's a sure fire grade killer (10 points to the Bobcat who can name this street):
 

tsc

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There are Universities that you could just get a certification in GIS.... so you can be more marketable in the planning environment without spending the time and money at the moment on a master's degree.

Quite frankly... many GIS people are lacking in graphic skills.. so your working in design would be a plus.

Also.. you could go right to www.esri.com and go to their virtual campus section.. and do coursework on-line.
 

jpgurl

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2
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Thank you all for your input! It has been very helpful. I have a few meetings set up with grad and undergrad advisors. Now I just need to study for that GRE...

I'll be lurking here for some inspiration too.

-jpgurl
 

PlannerGirl

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Welcome and I think you will find the good folks here very helpful. We look forward to your posts.

PG
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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Welcome!!! Glad you decided to lurk no more.

As for school, make sure you get yourself as much pracitical experience as possible: internships, etc. That was one of the problems with my UP master's program. They didn't make it a big enough priority.
 

otterpop

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6,655
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28
Jana,
Here is my two-cents. I did not attend an accredited grad program, and I did not complete my professional paper (working, a new marriage and a baby soon after put a kibosh on the money and time required to finish). I turned out fine.

Given the horrors of preparing for the graduate exam I experienced and the prospects of having to write a professional paper or thesis, I would advise getting a BA in Geography, with a planning emphasis. Since you have already had the Geography core classes, you can probably get your BA quickly. I think a BA, and one or two internships with a planning department would put you is a good position to get into the planning profession.

I had two planning internsips prior to hitting the job market and that helped me a lot. Talk to someone down at the local planning office. Good contacts for future employment are a god-sent. Maybe volunteer to help on one of their projects. Or get involved in a local planning issue as a citizen. Serve on the planning board or zoning commission. I would reccommend you test the waters. Planning is not for the faint of heart.

Lack of an accredited program and not completing my master's didn't hurt me getting a planning job, though finishing probably might have helped. I would stress you get experience before hitting the job market after graduation. Having had a planning tech job or a good internship or two helps a lot with prospective employers.

Good luck.
 

Habanero

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Runner said:


But when you are in San Marcos avoid this place, it's a sure fire grade killer (10 points to the Bobcat who can name this street):
Is that N LBJ, across from Campus?
 

Suburb Repairman

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Runner said:
Southwest, SOUTHWEST?? We don't need no stinkin Southwest!!

Don't you mean: Texas State University-San Marcos :) :)
Press Release

But on a more serious note, I agree that a second bachelors would not be as important as getting a masters. Another option to the MAG degree at "Texas State" is the MPA program with an Urban Planning concentration. It's an excellent program with wide applications.

But when you are in San Marcos avoid this place, it's a sure fire grade killer (10 points to the Bobcat who can name this street):
SAGEWOOD! (aka student ghetto) It's one hell of a GPA killer!

By the way, I'm also looking at the MPA program at Texas State, partly because I believe city managers need a planning background since that is where so many controversies in city politics occur. I'm pretty stoked about the name change, at a minimum it's easier to say! Honestly, I'm just glad the name change issue is over, I was getting sick of hearing about it over the past three years.
 

Habanero

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Suburb Repairman said:
I'm pretty stoked about the name change, at a minimum it's easier to say! Honestly, I'm just glad the name change issue is over, I was getting sick of hearing about it over the past three years.
Not to mention it's not located in Southwest Texas. :) It's only one name change in a line of many name changes the school has gone through. I am going to buy up some SWT stuff before it's gone though.
 

Suburb Repairman

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Yup. the one tradition our school does have... changing it's name ;) I ran by the bookstore the other day to pick up some shirts; they're really cheap right now! The construction on campus really blows right now. Of course, driving in San Marcos in general blows!
 

Runner

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566
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17
At first I was against the name change idea however now I think it's a good idea. Although I don't believe for a minute that the name change is not going to end up costing the taxpayers a ton of money.
 
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