• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Careers Why did you leave planning?

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
16
Points
1
On some of the posts on the workplace and careers thread I read that some people quit the planning profession and pursued other careers. It seems like more people are entering this profession because they are interested in it and wants to make a difference in the world and I am surprised to hear that some people are leaving the profession. I would like to know why some of you guys left the planning profession?
 

Hink

OH....IO
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
16,313
Points
59
I wanted to run an organization. So I left it for leadership reasons. Not because I don't enjoy planning. I know many of us that have transitioned from planning to city management. It is a much better fit than Police Chief or Public Works Director to Administrator transitions.
 

HomerJ

Cyburbian
Messages
1,141
Points
18
I transitioned into a fiscal management role, but I still do a lot of coordination with planners. A lot of agencies I've witnessed throughout my career tend to look at planning more as a luxury and less as a necessity (not saying I agree with that, just something I've observed). The only exception to that may be current planning functions (e.g. zoning and land entitlements). There is also the unfortunate boom/bust cycle planning can go through, as anyone trying to find work in planning during the Great Financial Crisis remembers.

I do still very much enjoy the subject matter of planning, so I don't think I really see my transition as leaving the profession.
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
16
Points
1
I transitioned into a fiscal management role, but I still do a lot of coordination with planners. A lot of agencies I've witnessed throughout my career tend to look at planning more as a luxury and less as a necessity (not saying I agree with that, just something I've observed). The only exception to that may be current planning functions (e.g. zoning and land entitlements). There is also the unfortunate boom/bust cycle planning can go through, as anyone trying to find work in planning during the Great Financial Crisis remembers.

I do still very much enjoy the subject matter of planning, so I don't think I really see my transition as leaving the profession.
So what do you mean by luxury job?
 

HomerJ

Cyburbian
Messages
1,141
Points
18
So what do you mean by luxury job?

By referring to planning as a luxury, I mean to say sometimes agencies will look at planning as a good thing, but not necessarily as essential if it's being compared against things like police, fire, public works, etc.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
2,932
Points
47
I wanted to run an organization. So I left it for leadership reasons. Not because I don't enjoy planning. I know many of us that have transitioned from planning to city management. It is a much better fit than Police Chief or Public Works Director to Administrator transitions.
^^^

This right here. I worked in planning for almost 23 years and then got into city management. In planning you touch all parts of the city anyway and I thought I had some skills that would translate well to more of a leadership role. Some might disagree. Haha. But seriously, I absolutely love what I do now. I certainly have a lot of involvement with planning but I also try very hard not to overstep and make the director feel like I'm watching over their shoulder because I'm not.
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
16
Points
1
^^^

This right here. I worked in planning for almost 23 years and then got into city management. In planning you touch all parts of the city anyway and I thought I had some skills that would translate well to more of a leadership role. Some might disagree. Haha. But seriously, I absolutely love what I do now. I certainly have a lot of involvement with planning but I also try very hard not to overstep and make the director feel like I'm watching over their shoulder because I'm not.
Do you like management more than you liked planning?
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,230
Points
59
Do you like management more than you liked planning?
As a director level position over P&Z, Building and ED, I'm getting management training on three typical local government disciplines. Once you're out of the entry level, planners have to learn to be managers (of people, due process, etc), so it's really not a major stretch/leap to managing the management of Public Works, Engineering, IT, Parks, etc.

EMS and Police though often do require very specific skills sets that planners may not have a chance to sufficiently develop.

Lastly, if you don't think you're ready to move from Planning to City Management, then you likely are definitely not ready (though individual delusions of grandeur may vary ;))
 
Last edited:

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
26,495
Points
70
I had/have no delusions of grandeur to move up to management
  • that would involve night meetings;
  • the PD answer to the Plan Commission, Mayor, & County Commissioners - to many bosses
  • as my health has changed don't need nor want the stress
besides I am now possibly considering retirement - I would have 30 yrs with the same county.
 

RANDMAN

Member
Messages
16
Points
1
I had/have no delusions of grandeur to move up to management
  • that would involve night meetings;
  • the PD answer to the Plan Commission, Mayor, & County Commissioners - to many bosses
  • as my health has changed don't need nor want the stress
besides I am now possibly considering retirement - I would have 30 yrs with the same county.
Did you enjoy being a planner?
 

Hink

OH....IO
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
16,313
Points
59
Do you like management more than you liked planning?
For me it is different. The same challenges that you have as a planner, to find ways to achieve goals with the parameters that you have to work with, are still there. So the fun part of the job for me, is to try and achieve more with what we have. Personally, I have enjoyed the ability to move outside of the framework of planning (dealing in other topics, etc.) and to push those around me to be more comprehensive in their thinking... which is just trying to teach them planning fundamentals...

I like it better, but I have always wanted to move in a different pathway. It certainly isn't for everyone.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
26,495
Points
70
Did you enjoy being a planner?
Yes, because of the variety of projects worked -
researched & wrote sections of the Comp Plan
helped change the LEPC Haz mat Plan
Responsible for the city part of preparing for 3 Censuses
Responsible for Letters of Credits for Subdivision
Involved in rewrite of Zoning & Subdivision Ord into a UDO
Was responsible for NFIP CRS annual & cycle recertification
Continued invovlement out of Grad School part time job - Trails
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,441
Points
35
For me it is different. The same challenges that you have as a planner, to find ways to achieve goals with the parameters that you have to work with, are still there. So the fun part of the job for me, is to try and achieve more with what we have. Personally, I have enjoyed the ability to move outside of the framework of planning (dealing in other topics, etc.) and to push those around me to be more comprehensive in their thinking... which is just trying to teach them planning fundamentals...

I like it better, but I have always wanted to move in a different pathway. It certainly isn't for everyone.

While I'm back in "true blue planning," I jumped into the management world for a little while. I viewed it very much as an extension of my planning work as a way to infuse comprehensive, long-range thinking into decision processes in other departments, etc. My philosophy was "the best way to eliminate the barriers I encountered in leadership to plan implementation was to become the leadership." By and large, that worked. Plus, I'm only really happy in my work if I'm learning/trying new things. I felt like I had hit a ceiling working as a planning director for a city, and wasn't interested in jumping to a bigger city. My transition to management found me sad though as I have a severe creative itch. I'm now a planning consultant and the happiest I've been in my career.
 
Top