Jeffrey Barg's blog

Money for Nothing? Not Anymore. (Chicks, Though? Still Free.)

Almost a month into planning school, I can see the profession’s all about improvisation. How do you think on your feet when a client doesn’t like your design? What other cities can you turn to when a sudden mandate comes down to look for policy innovation?

Or let’s say you’re a planning professor. The financial markets have started a tailspin, eating themselves alive and swallowing MBAs whole. How’s your lesson plan gonna change?

My Pre-Professional Paradigm Shift

More than anything, I remember laughing at them. While I, as a bright-eyed undergrad, woke up at 11 to enjoy my very liberal arts classes in everything from gerontology to the physics of music, the business students would trudge out the door in suits and ties. For class. In late-summer Philly humidity. Eighteen years old and already soulless pre-professional slaves.

Poor bastards, I thought.

Now that I’m in graduate school, two things keep the schadenfreude at bay as Wall Street drowns in its own excesses. One, karma’s a bitch. And two, as a soon-to-be planner, I’m quickly realizing I’ve become one of them.

Planning for Planning School

I used to have interns. Probably hundreds of them, if you add them up over the years. I lorded over them all—benevolently, of course—while they, with doe eyes and studied eagerness, did whatever they could to impress me and my colleagues.

Then this week, at orientation for the University of Pennsylvania’s master of city planning program, I sat in the crowd, one face out of about 70. A plebe once again.

Talk about humbling.

Master's Planning: How to Pick an Industry That’s Growing, Not Shrinking

Just after 2008 began, I realized my profession of choice was dying.

I’d spent the previous seven years at Philadelphia Weekly, a fairly typical alternative newspaper: you know, magazine-style lefty bent, where-to-go-and-what-to-do listings, porn ads in the back. The usual.