I’ve Graduated, Now What?

<p> <span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman"><span style="font-size: small">Many of those who have recently graduated in planning are currently asking “how can I get a job?” Of course a number of recent graduates do have work. But government budget cuts may mean that local jobs are hard to get. This is the time to use your imagination. To get you started here are some ideas:</span></span></span><span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman; font-size: small"> </span></span> </p>

June 4, 2011, 6:26 PM PDT

By Ann Forsyth


Many of those who have recently graduated in planning are currently asking "how can I get a job?" Of course a number of recent graduates do have work. But government budget cuts may mean that local jobs are hard to get. This is the time to use your imagination. To get you started here are some ideas: 

  • Nonprofits are a great place to start. They seldom pay well but you will get experience and typically you will be helping save some aspect of the planet as well. Unpaid internships can often lead to nonprofit jobs-as long as you impress them!
  • Small cities, particularly ones in out-of-the-way places, can also be a great place to work as you'll get to do a bit of everything. You may even start off as planning director-though if that is the case be sure you find a support network!
  • Big cities often have big and complicated bureaucracies with planning jobs in less obvious places like housing agencies, public works departments, and facilities management groups. Look beyond the planning and zoning departments.
  • Similarly, big engineering, architecture, and development firms may have small units that do planning work-planning sites and districts, getting permissions or entitlements, doing public participation, or coordinating projects. One of my most interesting professional experiences was bidding for a job as a subcontractor to the planning unit in a multinational engineering firm. It was fascinating seeing how they put together the proposal.
  • Very small planning firms often hire part-time and hourly people when they have work. Big firms doing smaller projects in your local area may need helpers for things like public meetings. It is a bit unpredictable as a long-term employment strategy but it can give you useful skills and potentially good references. Let your contacts, including your network of fellow graduates, know you are available.
  • Freelancing can take the form of subcontracting for small and big firms, or you can directly contract with a city or other planning entity. Again, it isn't the most stable work but it can give you the experience to get a more permanent job. Over the years I've done quite a bit of this kind of work, a lot of it remotely.
  • Related fields: There are often positions to be had in public policy, foundations, the softer side of engineering, mapping, and so on. There may well be alumni of different colleges who could provide contacts. Take advantage! 

Finally, as well as types of employers you should also consider the locations where you are looking for work. In an earlier blog I advised to be prepared to go to Kansas, meaning a place where you can get great experience and don't have to compete with dozens of other recent graduates. There is life beyond Boston, New York, and San Francisco. 

And in the interim stay gainfully unemployed. Work will come eventually.

 

 

This is May's blog, a few days late.


Ann Forsyth

Trained in planning and architecture, Ann Forsyth is a professor of urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. From 2007-2012 she was a professor of city and regional planning at Cornell.

Chicago Transit Authority Green Line Train at 35th-Bronzeville-IIT

A New Transit Equity Dashboard

New data technology has made it possible to measure transit equity in ways that were impossible before. TransitCenter is making good use of the new capabilities.

June 17 - TransitCenter

Car-Centric Planning

Mapping Environmental Justice Hotspots

A new map of Virginia illustrates the stark contrasts in pollution burdens depending on location.

June 18 - The Virginia Mercury

California Gas Statin

The Big Taboo of the Senate's Bipartisan Infrastructure Proposal

Ten bipartisan senators have proposed a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure deal with no new taxes, but it does include indexing the current gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, unchanged in 28 years, to inflation, thus potentially increasing gas prices.

June 17 - The Washington Post

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Case Study Posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.