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Urban Planning Career for an IT Consultant
June 4, 2008 3:27 PM   Subscribe

As a one-time IT Consultant (Business degree), should I choose planning as a profession?

These posts (1, 2) have been real helpful, but I have some different questions.

When I was a kid I'd look up Census data at library and read Environmental impact statements on new Highway construction in my small town.

I’ve walked around most of the large cities in the United States wondering why they end up that way. Now I’m fascinated by how mass transit can (both positively and negatively) impact communities.

Because of these interests, the excitement I had when reading through Planning school websites, and the closeness of the APA’s ideal skill set to my skills and interests—I feel that this is the perfect career for me. Caveats are: I am not super-idealistic (possibly a bit cynical, but very optimistic person) or very political. But I'm an effective communicator, make friends easily, enjoy analyzing statistics, and have been praised for my organizational skills.

Questions for those out there:
• Does fascinating subject == interesting jobs (most of the time)? The classes look absolutely fascinating
• What personality trait would be good to handle the “politics”—, which seems to be the most negative aspect of the planning profession?
• Do you typically work on “project work” or day-to-day work? Are these done in groups?
• Will my IT background help?
• Transportation planning—do I need to have a Civil Engineering degree?
• Is there an "ideal" joint degree to work on?
posted by sandmanwv to Work & Money (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
• Does fascinating subject == interesting jobs (most of the time)? The classes look absolutely fascinating
No..... and what sounds like an interesting class, based on its description, may be deadly dull. But if you're into the subject generally (and it sounds like you are) then it sounds like it may be a good fit.

• What personality trait would be good to handle the “politics”—, which seems to be the most negative aspect of the planning profession?
Patience.

• Do you typically work on “project work” or day-to-day work? Are these done in groups?
My last job in a private sector planning firm was always project-specific and highly collaborative. My current job in the public sector is still pretty project-based but much more solitary.

• Will my IT background help?
Probably. It couldn't hurt.

• Transportation planning—do I need to have a Civil Engineering degree?

Not at all - unless you want to be designing the roadways.

• Is there an "ideal" joint degree to work on?
No, but law+planning seems popular.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 3:36 PM on June 4, 2008


Mr Jadepearl speaking here (I was a transportation planner before I became a professor of transportation planning/engineering):


Does fascinating subject == interesting jobs (most of the time)? The classes look absolutely fascinating

It depends, in large part it depends on where you wind up working. Working for a consulting firm will give you a larger variety (breadth) but will not necessarily bind you to a particular place (depth). On the other hand working for an agency may mean you have to nurse the same project for 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years before it gets built.

• What personality trait would be good to handle the “politics”—, which seems to be the most negative aspect of the planning profession?
Schmoozing

• Do you typically work on “project work” or day-to-day work? Are these done in groups?
Both, but if you are technically inclined, you will probably get more project work. There are lots of meetings but most work is done outside of the meeting. As you rise in the organization meetings begin to become the majority of your day.

• Will my IT background help?
It will help a lot if you want to become a transportation modeler, i.e. someone who works on regional transportation planning models to forecast traffic and test scenarios.

• Transportation planning—do I need to have a Civil Engineering degree?
Not required, however a CE degree is especially valuable for modeling and is a signal to employers of better quantitative skills.

• Is there an "ideal" joint degree to work on?
A dual degree MSCE/MURP is ideal for transportation planner/engineers. Contact me separately if you want recommendations.
posted by jadepearl at 7:32 PM on June 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


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