Launching Your Planning Career: A Guide for Idealists
The planning profession is rooted in the optimistic idea of betterment: transforming communities from the ground up to achieve livability, sustainability, and social justice. Attaining this entails a healthy measure of idealism. However, it also requires that young planners are realists, prepared for long timeframes, ethical dilemmas, warring stakeholders, and red tape.
For young planners, facing these obstacles unprepared can be deflating, or worse, disillusioning.
Richard Willson, FAICP, draws on his years of experience in the classroom, as a researcher, and as a mentor to young planners. His insights provide processes for making choices in the career "launching" phase — addressing decision making, doubt, types of work, and work settings.
This blog series is amplified in Richard Willson's books, A Guide for the Idealist: How to Launch and Navigate Your Planning Career, and Reflective Planning Practice: Theory, Cases and Methods, and The books include frameworks, case studies, reflective methods, advice, and personal anecdotes. They are available now at Routledge, Amazon, and most retailers.
"A Guide for the Idealist" Posts
July 29, 2022
Making Strategic and Ethical Practice Choices
February 25, 2022
Reflect | Act | Release
October 18, 2021
Reflection Reset: Pathways to Effective Practice
January 15, 2021
Reflection for Radical Planners
November 13, 2020
Reflective Planning: Navigating Idealism and Realism
August 18, 2020
Being an Idealist in Difficult Times
July 27, 2020
Changing Planning Practices to Honor George Floyd
Cultivating Planning Career Resilience
January 10, 2020
Reflex or Reflexivity: Which One Is Good for Planners?
December 13, 2019
Spinning Planning Experience into Practical Wisdom
October 15, 2019
Time Triage for Planning Managers
August 6, 2019
Negotiation Skills Are a Must for Planning Managers
July 9, 2019
First-Time Planning Manager? Let Go, Step Up
April 8, 2019
Career Ordeals Await — You Can Build Resilience
February 11, 2019
Do You Plan With Caution or Courage — or Both?
January 8, 2019
Did I Take the Wrong Job?
October 16, 2018
I'm an Underworked Planner and I'm Losing Heart
September 12, 2018
Tips for the Overworked Planner
August 13, 2018
The Workplace Conspiracy Against Change
July 24, 2018
July 10, 2018
Moving Into Planning Management
June 5, 2018
7 Answers to Questions About Mentoring
May 16, 2018
5 Scenarios for "Reading" Your Supervisor
May 1, 2018
Finding Your Way to the Best Planning Job
March 27, 2018
Trust: A Must-Have for Credibility, Influence, and Power
March 6, 2018
Credibility, Influence, and Power: How to Get It, How to Use It
January 9, 2018
Theories of Change and Your Planning Career
November 28, 2017
Planning Theory: What Is It Good For?
October 31, 2017
Mentoring and the Planning Fountain of Youth
September 11, 2017
So ... No Planning Degree?
About the Author
Richard Willson, FAICP, is a professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Cal Poly Pomona. He has also served as department chair, interim dean, and academic strategic planner. Willson's research addresses planning theory and practice, parking policy, and climate change planning.
His book, A Guide for the Idealist: How to Launch and Navigate Your Planning Career, amplifies the themes in this blog series and provides a path to effective practice and personal development. Willson is also the author of Parking Reform Made Easy, Island Press (2013) and Parking Management for Smart Growth (2015). He consults with regional and local transportation agencies such as the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, cities, and developers of urban infill projects.
Willson holds a PhD in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, a Master of Planning from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo.