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Old 03-24-2011, 10:37 AM
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The title says it all. It's why I pursued what I pursued in college (BS Economics). This is what I'm passionate about. I want to go to places in the country that are struggling economically and help develop plans for them to recover and grow. Specifically, I'm interested in city planning, downtown development, and community building. Other than elected office, are there jobs that primarily focus on this objective? I'm currently doing some research online to see what is out there in this niche field, but any pointers and guidance from this community would be appreciated.
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:54 PM
Location: Here
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Most local govt entities have a sr. staff person responsible for exactly the type of work you are seeking. I would suggest perhaps doing an information interview with someone in the field near where you live/school, etc. Most of these folks come from an urban planning background and have specialized degrees in urban planning. While your economics degree is relevant, unless you have work experience, your best bet is to do an internship within one of these entities to get a feel for getting into the field.
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:07 PM
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I was idealistic like this too once and was lucky enough to get a couple of consulting projects under my belt along with 5 years of small business development experience. But - I never made the jump into the field full time because I took a step back and realized that the field was highly competitive and would likely mean that I would have to live in areas I really didn't want to live in. I also had a great experience trying to explain to folks out in the boonies that I was trying to help them with one of my projects - to them I was an outsider and not trustworthy. Some places are just beyond help and I found that to be very frustrating.

The area I left has been trying for over 20 years to diversify their economic base and have still failed to do so. I don't know if it was a lack of will or political intrusions (another aspect that made me wary of a career in this field) or what but they are worse off now than they were 10 years ago when I started.

There are some private companies that provide consulting services to municipalities and the like, but with all the uproar over government spending and entire sections of the country in deep debt, I can't imagine there are many good openings in econ development, especially with just an undergrad, at this time. I also happened to notice that there didn't seem to be a real clear career path and econ. dev. positions tended to be held by folks who had been in the job for decades.

Try an internship if you can but I would be open to adjacent fields as well.
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