I Want To Be A Planner

Dear Management Doctor

I have recently finished my undergrad studies and will graduate from San Diego State University with a degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in City Planning in May. I am now looking to continue on the Planning career path. I am a member of the APA and found you in the mentoring directory. I know you are a very busy man, but I was wondering if you had any advice for someone who was trying to break in to the field. I am moving to Washington D.C. in August and want to get a head start on finding a position out there. My work experience has been in the health care field for the past 2 1/2 years and I have been looking for internships, but I was wondering if there are any other steps that I should be taking in preparation for this change. The field of City and Urban Planning is very interesting and exciting to me and I would love to continue on this path. Thank you very much and I appreciate your time.

I want to be a planner

Dear Planner To Be;

First of all, congratulations on picking this exciting field. I would suggest a number of things.

  1. As soon as you can afford to do it, get your masters degree in planning.
  2. Getting an internship is great. For Washington D.C. you might start by contacting the Office of Planning which is the DC local planning office. You might also try the National Capital Planning Commission which is the Federal planning agency for DC.
  3. There are many other Federal agencies that are doing planning in specialty fields. This would include the health care field.
  4. Read my new book, The ABZs of Planning Management, Second Edition. Particularly Chapter 35, Unemployment Blues.
  5. Go to a National or State Planning Conference. The next national conference is in Las Vegas in late April.
  6. Attend the Washington D.C. APA Chapter meetings.
  7. Look at various continuing planning education courses as they become available. Since AICP now has mandatory continuing education you should be seeing more of this come online. Ohio State has some good on-line courses.
Best wishes with your getting started. Call me if you get in a jam.

The Management Doctor

Reader Responses

Check out The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission www.mncppc.org It is the largest planning organization in the DC area and usually has a wide variety of employment opportunities; many at the entry level. M-NCPPC does planning and development review for Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland. It also operates award-winning park systems in both counties. Both parks departments also have significant planning and development divisions.

John Henderson
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

I would also recommend trying to get on the planning commission in your community. This will get you valuable experience.

David Andersen