Starting Out and Moving Ahead In The Planning Profession
By Warren Jones and Natalie Macris
- Item# CW
- ISBN: 1-884829-44-9
- Copyright (c) 2000
- 180 pp.
- Price: $36.00
What are your most important job skills? What does it mean to be a successful
public planner or private consultant? What does an employer look for in a job
candidate? A Career Worth Planning answers these and other big questions, dispensing
practical career advice for beginners and veterans alike. Whenever you are along
your career path, apply these tools to evaluate your skills, preferences, and
work style, and find the planning niche that fits you.
ABOUT A CAREER WORTH PLANNING
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AT A GLANCE
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Warren W. Jones founded Solano Press Books, publishing professional books on contemporary planning practice, planning law, and methods of environmental analysis and review. He was a freelance consultant and an adjunct member of the planning school faculty at the University of California at Berkeley for more than 30 years. He also was an active citizen planner in his rural northern California community.
Natalie Macris is an urban and environmental planner, writer, and editor who works with public agencies, planning consultants, architects, real estate developers, and nonprofit organizations. She holds a Masters Degress in City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author of Planning in Plain English, also published by Planners Press.
If you were going to visit a country you'd never been to before, you could just hop on an airplane, not quite knowing what to expect once you arrived in that unfamiliar place. But you would probably enjoy your trip more and get more out of it if you did some research and planning beforehand. You might consult guidebooks and maps, plan at least some of your time, and learn a little about the language and culture of the place you'd be visiting.
Beginning your career—especially in a field as broad and complex as the planning profession—is like starting any other kind of journey. You probably don't know quite what to expect. And you will probably find the trip more satisfying and enjoyable if you have read a bit about where you are going-and if you have some sort of game plan for yourself and for the situations you might confront.
The book is for you, the traveler to this new place. You may be graduating from a collegiate school of planning, or transferring into a planning job from a related professional job or professional school, or already in your first or second year of professional practice. No doubt you are or soon will be will grounded in the subject matter associated with the job you take. Presumably that is why you were or will be hired. In fact, if you are just emerging from a school of planning, public policy, environmental management, or public administration, your mind is probably full of numbers and means for manipulating them, with theories, propositions, and historical perspectives, with visions about what could or should be, and with some research and policy-recommending experiences and predilections. And yet, you may not have spent much time, or possibly no time at all, thinking about the practical skills you have to offer or perparing for your first year in a new professional-level job. You probably have not thought much about what employers are seeking from the available job candidates. You probably have given even less thought to the longer term, to building a career that you will enjoy and be proud of.
This book attempts to describe the principles and requisites for entering into the fray, whatever it may be for you, and for preparing yourself for some of the realities and challenges certain to face you in the early years of your career. It is about the characteristics and demands of work environments, and the aptitudes and skills you will need to perform well, survive, and advance. We focus on the concerns of employers, on the roles and behavior of politicians and citizens, and on the political machinations you will encounter in the offices and in the communities you enter. We provide practical advice for landing your new position, for surviving, adjusting, and learning on the job, and for building your career.
We intend this book to be a guide for men and women of any age who are entering employment as professionals or pre-professionals in any setting where planning takes place. While the book is chiefly directed to people entering, or thinking of entering, the field of urban (city and regional) planning or environmental planning, much of the information we provide may easily apply to other employment situations. You may be working for a municipal, county, regional, special district, state, or federal agency (i.e. not for a planning agency per se). Or, you may be employed by a nonprofit public health, housing, economic or community development, park and recreation, open space, land trust, or other advocacy or self-help organization. Other possibilities include being on the staff of a law firm or a real estate or housing development enterprise, or a member of a consulting firm, or an employee of a company or organization that seeks something from government agencies or interacts with them on a regular basis. Wherever it is that you work, you may be responsible for carrying out any number of tasks; research and data analysis, policy- and plan-making, permit processing, environmental analysis, data collection and management, urban or project design, advocacy, policy or plan implementation, transportation delivery, and so on.
No matter where you work or what your responsibilities may be, fundamental skills, knowledge, and aptitudes will be required. We attempt to set these forth in direct and unambiguous language. Our objective is to encourage you to think about what you need to do to meet work place needs, employer expectations, and your own professional development goals, and then to take action.
If you find that we are overwhelming you with too much reality, just keep in mind that our intent is not to scare you away from pursuing or continuing a career in planning, but to map out all or most of what will come along as you grow into your career. If you are about to enter employment as a professional for the first time, or are preparing to do so, Part I (Starting Your Career) may be all that you will want to tackle at first reading. If you are currently a planning professional with a year or two of experience who is trying to make sense of your work environment and your prospects for the future. Part II (Developing Your Career) is likely to be of most use to you.
At the very outset we advance a basic truth. What you learn and experience in your first two to seven years on the job will create the building block for the rest of your career. That's not to say that what you currently like doing, or think you most want to do, will inevitably resemble what you will be doing two or seven years from now, or at mid-career. In fact, it is impossible to expect that, at this moment, you can or should know exactly who you will be, what possibilities will exist, what skills you will have acquired, and in what setting you will practice them that far into the future. Nonetheless, the beginning years will allow you to find out about yourself and to explore the field of possibilities. You will master some skills, gain insights about work environments and the planning scene, develop confidence, and decide what tasks and setting do and do not appeal to you. These experiences will set the stage for your future career decisions.
Another basic truth: It has become very clear of late that, in industrialized or post-industrialized high-tech societies, continuing education and self-improvement courses and experiences pay off. Indifference, or a failure to grasp new opportunities and challenges or to keep alert to new technology and intellectual advancements, places one at a severe disadvantage when competing in the national and internal employment marketplaces.
In short, even though your formal education may be over, there are still
many things to learn, many trails to follow, and unlimited opportunities
that you can only uncover and appreciate over time. With that in mind,
we urge you to spend the next few years gaining some depth of experience
and developing a full array of skills, remembering that one good thing
leads to another. We strive to make this book relevant no matter what you
may now think your goals are and no matter where your are headed next.