It's graduation season, and many urban planning students have recently completed their graduate work and are looking for jobs. Recently I got the opportunity to ask some advice from the APA's former EDD chair, Peter Lowitt about advice for those looking for their first economic development position. Here Peter Lowitt shares insight into how the field fares in times of economic hardship and strategies for job hunters.
Alison: Do you find that economic development planning is any more or less recession proof than other areas of planning?
Peter: Economic developers tend to be hired in periods of recession because communities seem interested in attracting jobs-but the position is very political. Economic developers can be seen as the scapegoats if a particular project goes wrong. There’s a saying for economic developers that ‘if it moves shoot it, and if it falls, claim a victory.’
Alison: What should students be looking for if they want to find a job in their area?
Peter: Look at regional planning agencies. Communities are always going to be preparing plans. Look into Chambers of Commerce. A good idea is to look into the International Economic Development Council, which has regional components. For instance, the Northeastern Economic Developers Association, or the Maryland Economic Developers Association.
Alison: What is one thing that you wish all people entering the field knew on day one of their new job?
Peter: Any background that you have in business will help. That is the language that many people you will be working with are used to, and so being able to speak their language is very important.
Peter Lowitt is a Director at Devens Enterprise Commission in the Greater Boston Area, and is the Chair of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.