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Starting Out Advice

smatt1973

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7
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I'm about to apply to graduate schools for urban planning and design, and would like to seek advice from anyone willing to provide any.

I want to be involved primarily in master planning of communities, and would like to know which programs in the New York area are highly regarded. I have found courses of study at Columbia University, Hunter College, NYU, and Rutgers.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Also, I would also like to get my foot in the door at a firm specializing in planning. What types of positions are available at these firms without a degree. I'd be willing to do anything, even administrative, so that I can obtain a better understanding of the process from inside. Any thoughts, suggestions, or leads?

Thanks everyone.
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
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23
Hunter, Columbia, NYU..... there all good schools...

Try looking for an internship with a county or city....
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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10,624
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34
The schools you list are all respectable on any resume I would get.

Internships are key, even if in "related fields". A good intership and an average school will trump a great school with no experience any day of the week. On that note:

Go for small firms or small communities. You will learn a broad range of disciplines and not be pigeon holed into one area like 'transportation' or 'housing' (Sorry tranplanner).

Dont get upset if you get a grunt job once in a while. Our little secret is we also keep interns around to do the things we dont want to do, ;) On that note do get upset if you end up being a file clerk for the department secretary.

Just my opinion.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
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29
I agree with Chet, go for the internship

degrees are nice but they dont teach you HOW to be a planner.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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24,908
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52
I agree.
I had an internship that continued for 2 years and incredibly rare even got a pay raise.
I believe that my internship expreience beyond looking good on my resume was a deciding factor in being hired. Projects worked on were GIS data capture and a Community Plan.
 

masafer

Cyburbian
Messages
32
Points
2
I'm a recent graduate of Rutgers, and I'd probably recommend either Rutgers or Hunter for what you want. NYU has a very small planning program (only 5 profs or so), they're much more involved in the policy side of things. Columbia is kinda a strange program as well-- much more academic than practical. I think Rutgers is a much better program than Hunter, but then I'm biased too. If you have any more specific questions, feel free to email me.
 

smatt1973

Member
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7
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0
thanks everyone for helping out.

it appears rutgers has a good program. i will definitely apply. is there anyone out there who knows anything specific about the hunter college masters program. being a new yorker, the cost at hunter is a major advantage. any thoughts?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
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30
"the cost at hunter is a major advantage"

Remember that planning is not the most lucrative of fields. Debt should be one of your criteria.
 

smatt1973

Member
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7
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0
careers

Are most planning opportunities found in the public sector, or at private architectural and planning firms? What is the difference in terms of salary opportunities? I know it's not a lucrative field compared to many, but prior to investing in an education, it would be helpful to get some idea about the realities of the profession. Also, what is the job market like these days?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
PG is right. I imagine most states are dealing with their budget crises in the way that Wisconsin is - stick it to local government. Cities and counties are stretched thin, and are not adding positions. If someone attritions out, they ask if the position needs to be filled, at least right away. The positions that are being filled are generally at the lower end of the hiring range.

On the other hand, in 2-3 years, when the economy has picked up and things get back to normal, there could be a surge in hiring.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
my favourite description about planners and our salary

"tenuously middle class"
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
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7,342
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31
Re: careers

smatt1973 said:
Are most planning opportunities found in the public sector, or at private architectural and planning firms? What is the difference in terms of salary opportunities? I know it's not a lucrative field compared to many, but prior to investing in an education, it would be helpful to get some idea about the realities of the profession. Also, what is the job market like these days?
Private sector planners tend to make more money than government/public sector planners. Private sector usually requires more travelling, especially for consulting firms. Both sectors can be very rewarding, but each presents their own unique challenges. Entry-level positions are hard to come by right now because of budget constraints with many cities/counties/states. Most entry positions in the public sector hover around the $30,000 mark, but it varies A LOT from state to state. I think the APA has a salary survey available online to get a better grasp on salaries. I don't know much about pay and job availability in the private sector. My advice is to find a school with a good intern program so you can get more experience prior to graduating, making you more marketable. If you're lucky, an intern position can turn into a full-time job upon graduation. Many planners put in a few years with government before heading for the private sector.

That's my two-cents, for what it's worth.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,387
Points
25
Re: Re: careers

Suburb Repairman said:
Most entry positions in the public sector hover around the $30,000 mark, but it varies A LOT from state to state.
It's important to also point out that salaries can range significantly by regions within a state.

I was thrilled to learn after I had been on the job for a couple of months that I now work for the lowest paying county in my state.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
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Moderator
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5,407
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32
Michael Stumpf said:
PG is right. I imagine most states are dealing with their budget crises in the way that Wisconsin is - stick it to local government. Cities and counties are stretched thin, and are not adding positions.
I'm glad it's not just Iowa.
 

Suburb Repairman

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7,342
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31
Michael Stumpf said:
PG is right. I imagine most states are dealing with their budget crises in the way that Wisconsin is - stick it to local government. Cities and counties are stretched thin, and are not adding positions.
In Texas, when it comes to budget cuts planning tends to find itself in the bullseye. Planning is sometimes viewed as expendable by Council for some strange reason. Probably because the effects of planning departments aren't always immediate and planning departments symbolize "big government regulation" to many. Hopefully, the economy will turn around soon and open up some new opportunities.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
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3,387
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25
Suburb Repairman said:
In Texas, when it comes to budget cuts planning tends to find itself in the bullseye. Planning is sometimes viewed as expendable by Council for some strange reason. Probably because the effects of planning departments aren't always immediate and planning departments symbolize "big government regulation" to many. Hopefully, the economy will turn around soon and open up some new opportunities.
Oh. So that explains the demise of the City of Houston Zoning Department staff. ;)
 

Suburb Repairman

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SGB said:
Oh. So that explains the demise of the City of Houston Zoning Department staff. ;)
Don't get me started on Houston! I could dedicate a whole thread to "Why Houston is going to hell" ;)
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
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29
Make sure you have skills besides planning, get lots of GIS skills, there seem to be jobs as some sorta housing type planner but its damn hard work. Learn how to write to get grants etc learn how to work with communites and the gov *read think about taking some MPA classes*

good luck
 

SCCOTS

Member
Messages
11
Points
1
As far as internships go, dont be afraid to make contact with agencies, and then encourage them to make decicive decisions about positions. You'll never know unless you ask. I'd steer clear of an MPO for an internship too......
 

j_deuce

Cyburbian
Messages
49
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2
SCCOTS said:
I'd steer clear of an MPO for an internship too......
I'm also just getting into the internship/job market. What's wrong with MPOs? lack of cash? I only ask 'cause I just applied to one.
 
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