Post grad-school opportunities

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#1
Hi All,

I was hoping to get some insight on career opportunities following an urban planning master's program. Some quick background on myself. I've been planning for the last couple years to apply to MBA programs this coming fall/ winter. Based on my background and test scores, I'm pretty competitive for an M7/ top 10 program. I had thought about doing a joint MBA/ urban planning program, but except for Columbia, joint MBA/ urban planning degrees don't really exist at any of the top 10 schools. So I had kind of decided on the MBA because I saw it as being a more practical degree. My goals post grad school are to work for a major management consulting firm, ideally getting to focus on economic development and urban planning, or to work for a tech firm that deals with urban issues (like Airbnb, Sidewalk Labs, Lyft).

But now that the application season is approaching, I've been wondering. Do any of the top consulting firms or tech companies recruit out of top urban planning programs? Say MIT or Harvard? Seeing as I'm only really interested in a pretty small niche of post-MBA jobs, I'm wondering if applying to urban planning programs actually might make sense for me. My only hesitation is I don't know what post graduation career opportunities look like, and there isn't much info online. Any info would be much appreciated.
 

glutton

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#2
Go the policy route instead

Great question. If you want to get into management consulting, you're better off going to policy school and getting an MPA or MPP. A lot of those people end up working for Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, etc. and work on large scale federal government contracting. Getting into the policy roles at tech companies is tough, but you could do it from either an MPA, MBA, or MUP angle. It might help to go to Berkeley since you'll be in the Bay Area and that's where all these tech/policy positions typically are (either that or New York).

I'm not sure an MBA would cater to your interests. From what I've heard, an MPA (Master of Public Administration) or MPP (Master of Public Policy) has a lot of similar classes to an MBA, but the work focuses more on social issues. The difference between going into public policy and urban planning is really scale. Urban planners work at the hyper local, micro scale (ex: should loading be allowed in a bike lane? What can we do to incentivize Developer X to build in more affordable housing into his development and widen sidewalks with good stormwater retention plants?). Whereas, from what I've seen, people who work in management consulting either do large scale national or international research or do federal contracting. Likely both.

I went to a top 10 urban planning program and no one in my class works for large management consulting or a tech firm. Most of my classmates work in either non-profits, local government or small engineering/design/planning consulting firms that contract with local governments or civic groups. Making a ton of money is not really what you go into urban planning for. If you're interested in that, go the policy or business route. Also, if you're truly interested in urban planning, it is more important to go to a school in the state/region you want to work in, rather than going to a ranked "top 10" program. Business school cares about rankings, urban planning not as much.

good luck!
 

mercdude

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#3
Actually Booze Allen Hamilton really only cares about defense contracting, so unless you've got significant military connections (aka you're a retired Navy Captain), I wouldn't bother with them. And, don't bother with public policy - there's no money in it. If you want to make money, then I'd go into Real Estate Development, which can be a sub discipline of the MBA.
 
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#4
Thanks all for the thoughtful responses. Based on what I'm hearing, I think that an MUP degree probably doesn't make sense for me. I'm nowhere near as money-motivated as someone who gets an MBA to go into investment banking or hedge funds, but I'm too motivated by money to spend two years in grad school with the goal of working for a local government or non-profit. I'm thinking the MBA or joint MBA/ MPP would likely the best route. And real estate development is a good suggestion. I know policy roles at tech companies and economic development/ urban planning roles within management consulting firms are few and far between, so real estate could be another way to balance financial compensation with my interests in policy and urban issues.
 

glutton

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#5
Thanks all for the thoughtful responses. Based on what I'm hearing, I think that an MUP degree probably doesn't make sense for me. I'm nowhere near as money-motivated as someone who gets an MBA to go into investment banking or hedge funds, but I'm too motivated by money to spend two years in grad school with the goal of working for a local government or non-profit. I'm thinking the MBA or joint MBA/ MPP would likely the best route. And real estate development is a good suggestion. I know policy roles at tech companies and economic development/ urban planning roles within management consulting firms are few and far between, so real estate could be another way to balance financial compensation with my interests in policy and urban issues.
Yeah, best to go to to a school where the business school offers a joint real estate certificate/minor with the planning program. That way you can dabble in a couple of planning classes to see if you like it. Make sure you like working with Excel sheets though, because when we would do joint projects with the real estate folks, they mainly crunched numbers.
 

mercdude

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#6
I think that's a smart choice. The MBAred is a good degree that straddles a few fences and can lend you the possibility to drop into planning, or commercial real estate, or real estate development. It probably has a higher ROI than a MPP/MPA or MUP. On a side note: maybe consider not doing graduate school all together. Skip it for some licensure credentials. When talking with suits, it's always obvious that they don't have much appreciation/taste for a MBA nowadays.
 
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#7
I think that's a smart choice. The MBAred is a good degree that straddles a few fences and can lend you the possibility to drop into planning, or commercial real estate, or real estate development. It probably has a higher ROI than a MPP/MPA or MUP. On a side note: maybe consider not doing graduate school all together. Skip it for some licensure credentials. When talking with suits, it's always obvious that they don't have much appreciation/taste for a MBA nowadays.
I have to ditto this. If your goal is to break into the top tier private sector a development focused MBA seems like a good route in.

Us do-gooders who dont prioritize making oodles of cash upon graduation (but still want a comfy career) do MUP's :p
 
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