Its that time of the year again when hundreds of planning students complete their training and embark on their first gigs. We have identified five things that noob planners should consider as they navigate the ebbs and flows of their early careers.
1. A fired planner is an ineffective planner
Planning is political, and though you always might not agree with the direction of your leadership, your job is to inform the big picture, not nitpick every minute detail (unless it violates APA and AICP codes of ethics). Doing so may find you unemployed and not serving the public's interest.
2. Advise practical solutions
You will find out early on that you do not know everything. However you may sometimes feel compelled to spout off text book information and things Portland and Seattle are doing. Don't! Remember to contextualize good planning for your jurisdiction and advise practical solutions. The quicker you can know the history and gague the political climate of your adopted city, the more effective you will be as a planner.
Unless you have found your dream job, you want to network. Not only will you be able to build your brand, but you will have great resources to help you do your best work. Pro tip, join the Urban Planner Social Network!
4. Many don't understand your role
So don't behave as if the common person knows what you do. They may think that you sit there and plan where potholes get fixed and where green lights should be retimed. If they do, then you'll never be liked. You need to seize opportunities to storytell the big "P" planning you do and educate about who does the small "p" planning...and not to blame you for the little things. The effective planner educates and earns the respect of their customers.
5. Get quality experience
Don't get pigeonholed early in your career. Find opportunities to dabble in a little bit of everything planning. Show initiative and ability and you will be rewarded with new opportunities. Hone your skills by learning what you don't know. An experienced planner is a confident planner and a confident planner is an effective planner.
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