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Old 01-05-2015, 07:38 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn Dreamin'
23 posts, read 31,547 times
Reputation: 15

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I'm bound and determined to pursue a major in Urban Planning and within the next few years transferring to a college in NYC to help achieve my dreams of being a planner in my favorite city. I was curious if anyone could help me with information from their experiences on what I should do and what I should be prepared for. I'm one of those kids that has had his life planned out since childhood, educating myself on as much as I can. I'm trying to make sure I achieve what I want and any information would mean a lot. What does the everyday job consist of? Is it different from what you were taught in college? Are some questions ive been curious to hear.
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Old 01-06-2015, 07:55 AM
 
28,445 posts, read 71,319,436 times
Reputation: 18424
Default Probably a really really really really really unlikely situation for LOTS of reasons...

Most established / mature cities have a very finite need for staff in the planning departments. These roles are often grouped into two categories -- one set reports to the elected officials and thus switches over when there is a change after elections. Beneath this tier there is a more permanent group of civil employees that have essentially life long employment. The second group is all but impossible to break into unless you have connections with existing employees, the work they do tends to very routine in nature, stamping approvals on regular home owners renovated basements and such. The more poltical group is also extremely hard to break into, though the work is a little more interesting and sometimes involves the bigger projects that often are backed by major political donors...

Frankly if you do not even know what the everyday work of planners consists of it is laughable to say you've been focused on this your whole life. I literally remember when I had kids in middle school do "explorer projects" and they would line up a day or more of shadowing someone that had their "dream job". If you do not even know what planners do it may very well be the wrong direction for you.

The odds of anyone with BOTH the necessary professional credentials (at least masters degree in urban planning and / or architecture as well as even municipal management ) AND connections to either the poltical or civil side ever getting hired in a city as competive as NYC are vanishingly small. Frankly if you do not already "know are insider" it is probably not accurate to say you've planned things out...

Even if you do know insiders the shear numbers work against you -- stable mature cities do not need to add staff to their planning departments on a routine basis. Openings related to switches in elected officials generally go to high ranking indivuals already working at respected architecture / land use firms, not new college grads. Openings related to the civil side go to those with connections to insiders -- if you are not working on your masters at a NYC area school it would be all but impossible to get an internship. Not all internships with the civil side of municipal planning offices lead to offers of full time work, they are notorious for not having openings for interns...

To start at a school outside NYC and attempt to transfer in is likely harder than starting at NY based school -- as one of the most populous cities in the country that also attracts interest from abroad the competition is just too high. In all honestly there are probably more people playing football for the Jets or Giants than there are people working on planning issues for NYC.

Even getting a job with a land use / architecture firm in NYC is far harder than landing a job in an area where there is more growth. The smarter strategy may be to focus on some other way that is likely to result in a way for you to love in your desired city and not go for the whole package all at once...
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Old 01-06-2015, 11:50 AM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,965,850 times
Reputation: 1954
The OP didn't say that he has no idea what planners do - rather it seems like the OP is asking what a typical workday is like and how it relates to what one learned at university.

Anyway, NYC is always hiring entry level planners both to work at the city level and on the borough level. It seems like there's a fair amount of turnover there on the lower rungs and that's perhaps because the pay scale there is relatively low considering the cost of living. Maybe not so bad if you're 24, living in Queens and don't mind having roommates but the pay is the same or higher in places like Nashville, Denver, Dallas, etc with much lower cost of living. Even with a relatively high COL on the west coast the pay is significantly higher.

Don't forget too that, if you're doing your undergrad in planning it's not a bad idea in your 3rd year to try to pick up an internship at one of the bigger firms. Planning employment doesn't begin and end with municipal planning departments.
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Old 01-06-2015, 07:50 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn Dreamin'
23 posts, read 31,547 times
Reputation: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
The OP didn't say that he has no idea what planners do - rather it seems like the OP is asking what a typical workday is like and how it relates to what one learned at university.

Anyway, NYC is always hiring entry level planners both to work at the city level and on the borough level. It seems like there's a fair amount of turnover there on the lower rungs and that's perhaps because the pay scale there is relatively low considering the cost of living. Maybe not so bad if you're 24, living in Queens and don't mind having roommates but the pay is the same or higher in places like Nashville, Denver, Dallas, etc with much lower cost of living. Even with a relatively high COL on the west coast the pay is significantly higher.

Don't forget too that, if you're doing your undergrad in planning it's not a bad idea in your 3rd year to try to pick up an internship at one of the bigger firms. Planning employment doesn't begin and end with municipal planning departments.
Thanks so much! I check the NYC planning department careers page often and there seems to be a lot of internships that pop up. My plan was to get an internship and perform well, hopefully leading to a career. I want to go to college in the city for Urban Planning to get to know people and score that internship, I feel like going to college in another state, graduating and trying to move to the city and find that job would be much harder. Also, yes I don't strive for a high-class lifestyle my actual plan was to live in south-central Brooklyn where apartments and overall cost of living is lower... Manhattan is too much. I've looked into other cities and their programs are usually new and unestablished and I don't want that, I want a degree from Hunter or Queens where the program is well established. I was figuring I would score the entry level job from my internship and if the opportunity down the road came for a higher position I would go to grad school for my masters.
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Old 01-06-2015, 08:12 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn Dreamin'
23 posts, read 31,547 times
Reputation: 15
Chet everett, when I referred to the 'everyday job' I meant the differentials between college work and work within the actual field. I will agree that high level jobs for urban planning in the city often have to have connections, but on the other hand internships &. Entry level jobs aren't scarce - everyone starts at the bottom of the totem pole and works their way up. I wasnt particularly looking to be shot down I was looking to hear stories and experiences from working in the field and what it's really like apart from what Internet research can get me.
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