I was the first one up by HOURS and decided to squeeze in a medium-pace “longer” run per my training plan.  We had a rainy night and the grass was covered in dew this morning – perfect running weather!


I am so happy to report that I’m within running distance to a large park and a greenway.  After three years of running through commercial districts and past strip malls, I nearly cried with joy this morning as I passed a river, green space, and other lovely amenities.


Here’s my statistics:


  • Duration: 43:27 minutes
  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Mile 1: 10:03
  • Mile 2: 9:33
  • Mile 3: 9:23
  • Mile 4: 9:55
  • Mile 4.0 – 4.5: 4:33 (a 9:03 pace)


An excellent run!


Breakfast was eaten in parts. Before my run, I had a slice of bread with PB:


When I got back, I grabbed the Hus and the dogs and we went for a stroll.  Before leaving, I had Chobani pineapple.


And when we returned, I had a banana.


My Former Life as an Urban Planner


Based on the comments from last night’s post, it seems a lot of you are interested in walkable neighborhoods!  Did you know I used to be an urban planner for a private consulting firm?


One of my former projects (this is a commercial and industrial project in California – it was recently approved, which is why I can show you!):


When I was an urban planner, part of my job was to help private land developers work with city and state governments to create attractive communities (mostly residential and mixed-use).  I would write design guidelines and sometimes help formulate land use plans that showed how the different land uses would be laid out (this all relates back to zoning, too).


A few things that make a neighborhood a “good” neighborhood from an urban planning perspective:


  • Walkability:  We tried to lay out the land uses so people could walk from their homes to work, schools, parks, and commercial shops.  Our plans included lots of sidewalks and trails.  One thing I always notice about an area is whether there is a landscaped parkway (a strip of grass) separating the curb from the sidewalk.  This is a sign of a really nice neighborhood!


  • Recreation Centers:  In California (where most of my projects were located), the State requires that new projects provide 5.0 acres of parkland for every 1,000 projected residents.   Pretty cool, huh?


  • Mixed-Use Areas:  We hardly ever built projects that were straight residential communities and tried to integrate shopping centers into the neighborhoods.  Plus, when people can walk to shops, they create less pollution. 


  • Open Space:  There’s a fine balance between good, clustered development and TOO MUCH development.  I really believe it’s important to set aside some land for open space, whether it’s for recreation or conversation.  California’s CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) law is really strict in requiring mitigation, which means developers have to protect land if there’s an endangered species on the property.  Pretty cool!


I really liked urban planning because I felt like I was doing something that directly impacted how people experienced life.  A single sidewalk can really improve someone’s quality of life!  I don’t really miss the actual job, though.  :) 


Have you made a career change? What was your previous job and what are you currently doing?  Do you WANT to make a change?



  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs June 30, 2010, 10:28 am

    Urban planner to blogger/Operation Beautiful – you made the right choice!
    I’m yet to start a career, but I’ve already changed my mind; degree is in psychology, but it’s definetly NOT what I want to do!

  • Lauren (Clean Eats in the Dirty South) June 30, 2010, 10:29 am

    haha, not exactly a career change per se, but i used to be a part time nanny for two kids from HELL so i quit that job 🙂 i’ve had some intense nanny experiences. one time a kid threw steak knives at me from the top of the stairs… lord knows how he got them. def quit that job too!
    my first “real” job was working at subway… never. again. trust me, you don’t want to eat at that place.

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans June 30, 2010, 10:30 am

    I am actually working (fingers crossed) on changing my career right now. I work in the outdoor gear industry, which I LOVE, but I’m trying to get into an aspect of it that is a little more “me” and keeps me on my toes a little bit more!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet June 30, 2010, 10:30 am

    Dying to make a change. Switched from full-time trainer to desk job and it blows. Currently MAKING the change happen, though. 🙂

  • Ellen@FIrednFabulous June 30, 2010, 10:30 am

    It’s so neat that you did that! My job various from day to day lately. Sometimes I’m a freelance magazine reporter and writer, and others I’m a babysitter, boutique worker, fashion assistant, (aka SLAVE), and the list goes on 🙂 The magazine work I’ve done is fun and “cool,” but I would like to do something that made a difference in people’s lives. Not sure what that is yet though?!

  • Andrea (canyoustayfordinner.com) June 30, 2010, 10:34 am

    I love to hear about your time as an urban planner, it does sound like an interesting profession! I used to work in film, moving from city to city for each show, and now I’m living in Seattle working for a cooking/food website. It’s really fun and anything food related just really excites me, so I guess work doesn’t feel like “work” ever. Do you think you’re much happier doing freelance work? Do you miss the security/routine of a day job at all? My work is a lot of me setting my own schedule/hours, and I find it hard to really make a clear line between personal/work time.

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 10:35 am

      YES! Because I do so much freelancing, sometimes I find myself working all the time or working into the night when it’s suppose to be ‘personal’ time. I think having an established office and ‘normal’ hours really helps. I cant wait to get back to it once things settle down here.

      • Matt November 12, 2011, 5:21 pm

        I’m 23 and looking to become an Urban Planner. It seems like a dream career… BUT… I don’t want to be tied into an office. The more I get a glimpse of the Urban Planning world, the more I see overworked people. I don’t want that to be me. I want to freelance as an urban planner so I can work remotely and travel, be free to live as I please. Is something like this even possible? Do I need to be tied a location? I don’t know if you can answer this… Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

        Matt from NYC

        • Caitlin November 13, 2011, 1:14 pm

          I think you can do that eventually, once you establish yourself and do consulting. But it is very unlikely you could do that out of school.

        • Neal December 2, 2013, 10:10 pm

          Matt, please do not go into urban planning. Since the economic crisis, planners are the pariahs of local government. You will be so overworked you burn out for nothing. I have been in this career for 13 years. My consolation today is the fact that I found a poverty level (better than most) 20 hour a week planning position that is allowing me to work at places that are interesting, challenging and stimulating. My goal after 13 years is survival.

  • Michelle June 30, 2010, 10:37 am

    I just wanted to thank you. A few days ago I was reading some old posts of yours where you mentioned one of the reasons you loved running was that you could see improvement over time. I have been running/walking for a few weeks now. Yesterday I decided to just run and see how far I could go, I ran 2 miles in 24 minutes which I know isn’t that fast but I was really excited about. Thanks for inspiring me to push myself!

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 10:47 am

      That’s awesome! What an improvement 🙂 Good job!!

  • Jamie June 30, 2010, 10:39 am

    I used to be in the online marketing field which I liked, but now I am back in grad school to pursue my passion for teaching. I will graduate in the spring!

    Running Q- how do you figure out your routes? do you drive them first or just go for it?

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 10:48 am

      I kind of generally know the area and I scoped out a map. 🙂

      • Meg July 1, 2010, 11:00 am

        Have you ever used http://www.mapmyrun.com/ before? You can map out a route to get an estimate of the distance! It even has a workout calculator. It’s great! I use it all the time!

  • Gracie @ Girl Meets Health June 30, 2010, 10:41 am

    I just recently decided that I want to make a career change. I’m currently working for my dad’s company, which is great, but I want a change of pace. I’m a single, recent college grad I want to experience the “real world,” you know? Living from home and working for the family business leaves me craving independence…not to mention I want to meet new people. I’m nervous to make the transition, but really excited!

  • Evan Thomas June 30, 2010, 10:47 am

    I would have never guessed you were an urban planner.
    Career is all over my mind right now–or really just a Summer career. I sent a book proposal to two publishers last night and got a no response in my inbox. I have one potential job in an office I really don’t want, and have since sent in a resume to 5 different Whole Foods just to avoid a desk job. Haha, I need to go for a run obviously to clear my mind from all of this.

  • Jenny June 30, 2010, 10:51 am

    That seems like a great job! I’m currently a student who is very thankful for the urban planner who put in a shaded walkway/bikepath behind my apt complex!

  • Ashley June 30, 2010, 10:51 am

    Congrats on getting of your previous projects approved! Your job sounds so cool (well old job).

    You really only eat the pineapple chobani….do you not like any other flavors?

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 10:57 am

      I think the plain and pom flavors are good, too!

  • Rachel @ Suburban Yogini June 30, 2010, 10:55 am

    I used to be a paralegal. Now I teach yoga. Yeah, quite a change (big paypacket change too!). I did both jobs for two years and it all got to much, I had to make the break!

  • Erin June 30, 2010, 10:55 am

    I think city/urban planning is such a neat field. I think the university where I work has some classes in that. I should look into taking them! I’m 30 years old and still haven’t decided what I want to do as my career. I guess I have one but it’s in a field I’m not passionate about which makes it difficult.

  • Angela June 30, 2010, 10:55 am

    I’ve been wanting to make a career change for a while, but I doubt it will happen. I’m currently in public relations for pharmaceutical companies, and while many people think that big pharma is just bad, working from this side has been really informative. Like any industry, these companies are a business and need to make money, but they do make a lot of contributions to society. Especially on the health front. I think a lot of people would be surprised by how much of current health initiatives are actually backed by pharma dollars. Anyway, I digress. Even though I like PR and its a natural fit for me, I’ve been wanted to switch to education. I love children and one day hope to have my own family. I think teaching is the ideal career for a working mother (yes I plan to work). But the money pales in comparison, so I’ll probably stick with my career path. According to my colleagues, the work only gets better as you move up the latter. Eventually, I’d like to focus more of my work on unbranded, educational initiatives only.

  • Michelle June 30, 2010, 10:56 am

    I’m so happy for you that you live in a great running area! 4 miles in country-ish places are WAY different than 4 miles in more urban areas…

    I spent 10 years trying to make myself a corporate salewoman. After my last job and I mutually parted ways 😉 I got my job working for a town’s youth services department and running programs, support groups, etc. I couldn’t be happier. 🙂

  • Jillian June 30, 2010, 10:57 am

    I currently work at a no-kill animal shelter as the assistant manager… But after two years and a promotion without a raise I’m ready to move on… It’s a dead end job, as much as it is rewarding to find the animals “forever” homes, it’s not worth the stress and agony of working for a board of directors.

    I have a degree in Equine Business Management, so I’m looking into starting my own business where I travel to different barns and groom horses and do various barn work… In theory I can triple my hourly income by doing this… So ::fingers crossed:: that I can get enough business to quit my job soon before I go BONKERS!

  • Cheryl June 30, 2010, 10:59 am

    Had been wanting to make a change for nearly a year from my marketing writing job, but thought it wise to wait til the economy recovered a bit…but then got laid off! Best thing that ever happened to me! The hubz and I now own a small, home-based nutrition company with big plans to expand…and I write a blog as I work on my own health, lose weight and get fit again.

    The structure thing is kind of huge for me…I can be all over the place in my head in a matter of minutes if I don’t have some kind of plan! Do you create a weekly schedule for yourself religiously or how do you organize your time?

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 11:00 am

      Normally I wok 9 AM to 7 PM with an exercise break somewhere in between Mon – Fri and I wok four or five hours on Saturday and Sunday. Lately I’ve been so screwed up because of the move, though!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg June 30, 2010, 11:00 am

    One of the things that I hate about Altoona is how unwalkable it is– I love going to towns that have walking paths and bike trails. Sigh.

    I’m currently teaching English, just as I thought I would be, ha. The blogging kind of adds a new dimension to my life though, so that’s good!

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing June 30, 2010, 11:01 am

    I live in downtown DC so my neighborhood is very walkable. I love it! I don’t even own a car. It’s so much less stress, cheaper and so much healthier!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) June 30, 2010, 11:02 am

    oh, i would love nothing more than a career change (or a baby?!) but thank goodness i’m in the process of exploring that as we speak 🙂

  • Jess June 30, 2010, 11:03 am

    Urban planners are the best. (I say this, of course, because I’m starting my master’s degree in urban planning in Columbus, OH this fall!) But I think that many runners and athletes have a great appreciation for planning and the outdoors. I can’t wait to move close to a greenway again! I miss it.

    Congrats on a successful move!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing June 30, 2010, 11:03 am

    I’m still in college but I’ve gone from education to business and now I’m going to culinary school soon.. it’s been a journey!

  • Orla June 30, 2010, 11:04 am

    To the dispair of my mother, I am currently work as a fundraiser for a homeless charity. Before that I worked in the media/PR/advertising industry with some property journalism thrown in for good measure. My mother dispairs as my job is not secure and is on a contract basis. She wishes I was in a more “secure” position. However, it is what I do best.
    I would love to be an event planner/organiser and a baker. However, there is not much demand for that where I live. I am a year into my mortgage so need to keep working to pay the bills. Maybe when I am a little more settled, I will follow my dreams.
    Love the first photo. There is nothing more soothing that a solo run in that kind of weather!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit June 30, 2010, 11:05 am

    Wow, I didn’t know you had such an interesting previous job! Sounds all grown-up 🙂 I’m anxious to find a job since I just graduated college. It’s stressful!

  • Sarah for Real June 30, 2010, 11:05 am

    Does switching from graduate student to full time employee count as a job change? Haha, I love my current job! It’s also related to improving community through the built environment.

    I didn’t comment last night, but I wanted to give my two-cents on walkable communities. I would love to live in one, but I always end up preferring my privacy. Ideally, I would like to live in the country with chickens, a goat and a milking cow. But ALSO have a “pied a terre” in a walkable neighborhood. Bam! How ’bout that? Hahaha… ahhh dreaming…

  • AngelaOSG June 30, 2010, 11:06 am

    I got my Master’s in Social Psychology and wanted to be a professor, but after a few research jobsI didnt like being glued to a desk, number crunching doing and doing stat. analyses all day. I also didn’t like not being able to chose what topics I researched. I ended up leaving the job because I was so unhappy. Now I am a bakery owner who went to university for 7 years for psychology! My family makes fun of me all the time, but I wouldnt change it for the world.

    Throughout the process I realized that no one really knows if they will like a field until they DO it, so there is no shame in switching into a different field! It’s better to be happy.

  • Lauren June 30, 2010, 11:06 am

    I just moved from a Texas suburb to Colorado and the walk-ability and greenways are a really refreshing change! My fiance and I share a car which was brutal in Texas because there weren’t even any sidewalks (let alone ones with grass partitions). Now, I can basically walk where ever I want in town on pretty sidewalks or via the greenway. It definitely makes you feel SO much better about where you live 🙂

  • michelle June 30, 2010, 11:12 am

    Ahhh this post gives me hope! I’ve been in sales for 5 years and I despise it! I actually was offered a job as a business analyst and I wanted it so bad. I screamed and cried when I got the offer letter but it was rescinded 4 days before I was supposed to start. 🙁 I’m taking it as there must be something else out there for me that I’m meant to do. My dream job would be opening a doggie day care! Maybe one day!!!!

    • Michelle June 30, 2010, 11:18 am

      I just moved this weekend too! I live in a “lanscaped parkway” area. Until I read this post, I didn’t even realize. That small difference makes is sooo much nicer!

  • Candice June 30, 2010, 11:12 am

    I am in the big middle of a potential job change. I’m going to talk to my boss and tell her one way or the other today. I’m scared to death!!! And still a bit uncertain as to what I’m going to do.

    It’s so timely that you ask this because right before I came over, I had just posted about my dilemma. http://chiaseedme.com/?p=1223

    I haven’t yet said on my blog that the decision is about my job because you never know who’s reading;), but my decision should be out in the open by tonight anyway.

    All I can say right now is that leaving a job can be sooo scary, and I hope I have the courage to do the right thing.

  • Jen June 30, 2010, 11:13 am

    What a cool job!! I worked as a legal assistant for 4 years before trading it in to be a stay at home mom.


  • Lisa C. June 30, 2010, 11:16 am

    So cool you were an urban planner- that’s actually what I started studying in college.
    I recently made a career ‘change’ from a teacher to a health care consultant– from the classroom to the hard core business world! Health policy is what I went to school for, but i taught out of college until I found a job.

  • Julie @ Pickley Pear June 30, 2010, 11:18 am

    Your “previous life” job sounds interesting – how did you get into that? I was in the Logistics industry for 4 years and then went to grad school, got a Graduate Degree in Human Resources and that is now what I do. Still not sure it’s my passion, but I do enjoy it.

    I can tell you’re already loving the “urban” part of Charlotte. I bet it’s a cool city and area!

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 11:24 am

      I just fell into it – I didn’t study it in college or anything.

      • Kim February 16, 2013, 5:29 am

        I studied to be a planner for four years so find it disrespectful that you claim to have been a planner by simply “falling into it”. Seems you were consulting for an urban planning firm, which is very different to being an urban planner. In my opinion it’s no different to volunteering at a hospital and claiming to be a doctor…

        • Caitlin February 16, 2013, 9:06 am

          Noooope – sorry, consulting is actually not even close to what I did. I was a full-time planner who was qualified to take the AICP. I went to public meetings and wrote planning documents including zoning ordinances, environmental impact reports, and specific plans. I helped design communities, trailways, and worked with a number of consultants on issues like transportation and air quality. People enter careers via a number of pathways – the fact that I worked at a job for 3.5 years and yet didn’t get there the same way you did doesn’t take away from your accomplishments (or mine).

  • Sarah June 30, 2010, 11:18 am

    I’ve lived in Atlanta for the past three years and one of the most frustrating things about this city is the lack of sidewalks, bike lanes and access to public transit. I love to walk, but find it difficult to make that my primary way to commute when I’m dodging traffic. My husband rides his bike to work a lot, but he has almost gotten run off the rode numerous time – drivers get extremely volatile if they see bikers and don’t think they have the same right to be on the road! The public transit situation is AWFUL. The trains are good, but they only run north/south and east/west. The bus system doesn’t have a straight way to get to anything and – even with the horrible traffic – it’s actually faster to drive.

    It’s really sad, because in the three years that I’ve been here I’ve actually seen the traffic problem get worse around the areas I frequent (Emory/CDC) and I’m afraid that the city officials are running out of time to actually do something before the city is completely gridlocked.

    • Sarah June 30, 2010, 11:19 am

      So I guess that’s my way of saying – I think access to transportation other than driving a car is critical when I think about urban planning!

  • BethT June 30, 2010, 11:20 am

    My current urban planner husband would enjoy hanging out with you next time you visit SF!

  • Christy June 30, 2010, 11:41 am

    First I want to say how much I love your blog! I look forward to them everyday and check throughout the day for updates. Anyway, your blog hit home today. I’m going to try and not make this long. Almost 10 years ago I went back to finish my undergrad and went right into graduate school in an area that is keeping me employed. However, I’m finding it is not my passion. So now I feel stuck but desperately want to make a change. I also go back to what I feel passionate about and that is health/exercise/nutrition. In fact I was looking at the local university here to see what programs they have but it would be like starting over. Don’t know if hubby would be up for that since we have life (if you know what I mean). So long story short is yes I would love to make a career change!

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 1:11 pm

      thank you for reading! I wish you the best of luck on your career change!

  • Amanda @ Vegacious June 30, 2010, 11:44 am

    I just got my masters in music education (as a full-time grad student). I am having trouble finding a job – it’s outrageous to me that the education field does not value higher education! I’m too expensive to hire now, and it just frustrates me. I’m really contemplating a career change, but have no clue where to start. My bachelor’s degree is also in music education. I have a passion for teaching music, but the politics are driving me nuts!

  • Lauren @ Running Examiner June 30, 2010, 11:50 am

    Urban planning is so cool! (Not to mention vital). I enjoyed reading about your experience with the profession.

    My ‘career switch’ entailed becoming a corporate communications specialist after several years of teaching (in conjunction with getting my MFA in Writing). Monetarily, it was a great switch, and I really like my job (I work for a green architecture/design firm–hence my deep appreciation for urban planning). That being said, I miss teaching sometimes–I like the immediacy of it, the direct connection you have with your students. I’m not discounting the possibility that I may return to it someday!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin June 30, 2010, 11:52 am

    That’s so awesome that you have such nice places to run now! Pretty scenery makes runs so much more enjoyable!

    I recently switched from a degree in Science to a degree in Nutrition. I can’t wait to start my new classes in the fall!

  • Rachel (Two Healthy Plates June 30, 2010, 11:57 am

    Career switching is stressing me out. I love my job, working in refugee resettlement, but that means I have to stick to big cities….small towns don’t resettle refugees! My husband just got a promotion so now he is working an hour away!!!! We are debating moving but I don’t know what else I would do for a career….AND we bought a house just one year ago so in order to keep the tax money we have to live there for three years!! Too many decisions….I’ve never been faced with such a difficult decision before!

  • Lizz (leadingthegoodlife) June 30, 2010, 11:58 am

    Pick me, pick me! Oh wait, you’re not offering me a career change. 🙂

    I have recently decided that I’m ready for a change. It’s hard because I almost feel guilty or selfish for wanting to give up my good, stable job while others are desperately searching for one. But I just keep coming back to the fact that I get nothing out of it (other than benefits and paycheck). I need something more fulfilling…and if I’m going to spend 40 of my waking hours a week doing something, it should be something I’m proud of, makes me happy, or helps me grow as a person.

    • Mel July 4, 2010, 6:33 pm

      OMG! This is exactly what I am experiencing. I have too many more years to work to be unhappy and unfulfilled. I am in the process of pondering and making a decision on what route is next for me.

      BTW, I love this blog!

  • Karla June 30, 2010, 11:59 am

    I’m getting a master’s in City and Regional Planning now!
    I love walkability! No one in my family understands why I don’t want to live near them! I want a walkable/dense area that doesn’t require a vehicle to get everywhere!
    I’m currently into food systems planning and hope to do it in developing countries! Hopefully it’ll all work out.
    Right now, I really like planning! But I guess I might change my mind!
    P.S. Was your project in the inland empire?

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 1:12 pm

      I did tons of work in the Inland Empire!

  • Katie @ Healthy Heddleston June 30, 2010, 12:07 pm

    Great job on your run and the breakfast looks yummy.

    I think it’s great that you were an urban planner! I think a lot of people don’t understand what urban planners do, so the insight was wonderful! Walkability (and might I add bikability) and recreation are so so important for a healthy community and need to have more importance placed on them!

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople June 30, 2010, 12:10 pm

    I love working part-time at my church. I love the people, love the atmosphere. Kinda bummed that I work so few hours, but I really enjoy what I do!

  • Kelly June 30, 2010, 12:15 pm

    That sounds like a really interesting job. I am dying to make a career change!

  • Stacey @ Tipping the (Kitchen!) Scales June 30, 2010, 12:23 pm

    I think my problem when it comes to jobs is that there has never really been anything specific that I’ve been interested in doing, so I just fell into what I do now. There are many things that I feel I would like to do but most of them involve retraining and at 29 I feel too old to make the change!

  • Sarah June 30, 2010, 12:26 pm

    I’m two years out of college and I can’t tell if I just don’t enjoy the job and employer i have, or if my field is not for me at all. I work for a not for profit doing planning and fundraising, which is just what I always wanted to do. But I have these dreams of going into nutrition, working as a school counselor, and being a nurse! A bit all over the spectrum, but I’m hoping that someday it will all fall into place.

  • Angharad June 30, 2010, 12:29 pm

    I didn’t get a chance to comment yesterday but walkability is massively important to me. Minneapolis is a great example of a city that incorporates tons of green space (our green way is gigantic and covers the whole Twin Cities) and is very walk and bike friendly for many areas. Love it! I run around lakes, by the river, on the green way…I wish all cities followed those models!

    I’m in my first job/sector still but I feel like I work somewhere that makes a difference so I’m happy – I work for a non-profit arts organization and it’s awesome!

  • Robyn @ Frugal 'n' Fit! June 30, 2010, 12:33 pm

    I think this is the first time I have read every comment to a blog. The topic of changing careers and choosing one’s path is endlessly fascinating to me!

    Right now I’m an Assistant with a national non-profit but I’m currently expecting my first baby and will take a year off maternity leave (love Canada!). Who knows what will come after that? Hopefully the lottery jackpot or a book deal. Yeah right!

  • Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] June 30, 2010, 12:35 pm

    I feel like you’ve accomplished so much in your life already at the young age of 26 – careers, marriage, books, blogs, races – way to go!!

  • Jennifer June 30, 2010, 12:37 pm

    Are you familiar with http://www.walkscore.com?
    It ranks a neighborhood with its walkability.
    I used it when I was moving.
    What’s your score?

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 1:13 pm

      85 out of 100!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat June 30, 2010, 12:39 pm

    urban planning sounds like a fun career! i’m currently finishing up my undergrad in business administration, and i am hoping to get a job in marketing (since that’s my concentration). if it could be related to food, fitness and blogging, i’d be ecstatic!

    based on locations of the jobs i’ve been applying to, it’s very possible that i’ll have to move. i hope wherever i end up is a place that is runner-friendly!

  • Rachel June 30, 2010, 12:54 pm

    I’m in my first job out of college and work as a legal assistant. I love the work but hate being stuck in an office all day, every day!

  • Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary June 30, 2010, 1:05 pm

    I live in a ‘planned community’ (Irvine, Ca) and I must say that the walking and bike path’s are amazing. I don’t think I could ever live some where where that isn’t avail. It’s so nice to be able to WALK to the walking path!

  • Brittney June 30, 2010, 1:08 pm

    I sometimes think about a career change. I work for the govt and the stability and benefits are what keeps me even though sometimes I wish I had a lot more freedom than I do. I envy people with with more flexible schedules, the ability to travel more, and the ability to really be creative. I feel like I lack that in this profession.

    • Mel July 4, 2010, 6:35 pm

      Wow! I could’ve written this post myself! I am in the same EXACT position. Are you one of my co-workers? LOL!

  • Wei-Wei June 30, 2010, 1:17 pm

    Wow, your old job sounds so cool! I actually wouldn’t think about what you would have done (since you’re just writing your book now! :D) but urban planner seems to suit you nicely. I never would have guessed, though! 😉 I think walkability is important too, but I would walk everywhere anyway ;D


  • Erin June 30, 2010, 1:22 pm

    I went from being a videographer for weddings/events to a PR Assistant at the biggest yoga/health center in the country, to now a teacher’s assistant. Although my previous jobs were exciting, they weren’t as fufilling as knowing you are changing the lives of children who need it. I couldn’t be happier!

  • Katherine June 30, 2010, 1:39 pm

    Thanks for posting about urban planning. Its interesting to hear about your “past life”. I’m at the beginning of my career, 1/3 of the way through law school, and trying to figure out my niche. I know I don’t want to work for a massive law firm. I know I am interested in issues surrounding equal education. I’m interning right now doing litigation work and I really like it. I kinda feel like I’m stumbling through law school without direction, but I have faith that the right path will open up for me.

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) June 30, 2010, 1:55 pm

    I haven’t made a career change, but down the road I would like to switch from being a teacher to being a psychologist within the school system. I am working on the schooling now.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) June 30, 2010, 2:01 pm

    Living in a town where sidewalks are sometimes scare I love them.

    I used to be a foreign language teacher in a middle/high school in Rural NY. I went back to seminary and now Hunni and I (we met in seminary) are pastors for The Salvation Army in The Berkshires of MA. Big change in some ways and not in others. But I love the change and wouldn’t go back. Good thing since my teaching license just officially expired 🙂

  • Sassy Molassy June 30, 2010, 2:19 pm

    Caitlin, it sounds like such an interesting job! I love that people actually DO think about those things when planning a new development of an area. So good for all of us.

    I’ve been in the same job in marketing since after college. I’d love to branch out, but don’t have the guts in this economy.

  • Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker June 30, 2010, 2:39 pm

    I WANT a career change desperately. Alas, with my husband’s teacher salary and mounds of student loans, it looks like a desk job is for me for the time being. Grrrr. Great running plan, though. I’ll be interested to see your progress!

  • Amber June 30, 2010, 2:41 pm

    I just started my career in marketing/PR and I do part-time freelance writing/marketing work on the side. One day I want to be full-time freelance!

  • Kacy June 30, 2010, 3:12 pm

    I DEFINITELY want to make a career change. I am a proposal writer and it’s just not for me. But it’s an okay job.

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels June 30, 2010, 3:59 pm

    Hmmmmmm such a hot topic in my household right now. I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time now and the company I work for is awesome (good pay, career advancement, interesting travel). But the problem is that I work weekends and that is really hard on my quality of life lately. The thing is – I’m just not sure what other career I would like or be good at. I’m not a risk taker so the whole thing is so scary for me

  • Karina June 30, 2010, 4:09 pm

    I’ve been in my current position for the past four years and ready to make a change. Reading your blog (as well as other bloggers that have made career changes) has given me inspiration and courage to follow my passion.
    I can’t wait to begin the journey!

  • Miranda @ MirandasJeans June 30, 2010, 4:31 pm

    I am currently in the middle of a career change. Today was my last day at my full time job. I currently and have workd for the last 7 years as a Child and Youth Worker. This basically means social work, group homes and other areas of social work. Come Sept I am going to school to become a Holistic Nutritionist. I want to open my own practice and offer friendly, sound, and fun nutritional services to my communuty, both adults and to children as well.

  • Mindy June 30, 2010, 5:19 pm

    I’ve been a bit all over the place, especially in terms of my education. I was a secondary education major for three years, then switched to advertising and public relations. I recently finished my masters in nonprofit management and leadership. I work as a program coordinator for a medical school, but I’m highly considering getting a second masters in something along the lines of higher education and adult learning – I really love working with the medical students and with the beauty of tuition assistance, I could do it for free!

  • D June 30, 2010, 6:16 pm

    did you mean for recreation or conservation?!

    although setting land aside for conversation would be nice of them too. always need a good space to chat!

    • caitlin June 30, 2010, 10:27 pm

      We did Open Space for both – sometimes it was mixed OS, like conserved lands with nature trails.

  • Krista July 1, 2010, 9:47 am

    After reading about how you laid out neighbourhoods, I’m happy to realize that I definitely live in a walkable area. And I must admit that when we moved my main criteria was that I could walk/bike any where I might want to go. So, we have 3 parks, a shopping plaza, library, recreational centre, school, gas station and my work all within walking distance. And we have grass between the sidewalk and road, here we call it the “boulevard”. Another cool aspect of where I live is that it’s at the edge of the city so 5 minutes on a bike and we’re at some beautiful trails in the country!

  • Wendy July 1, 2010, 4:32 pm

    I’m a little late chiming in – I used to work on a dairy farm, but now I am set to start teaching high school science this fall!

  • John July 2, 2010, 6:43 am

    I’ve basically been doing the same thing for 19 years now. There was one little change in 1991 as I bought the business I was working for. Some days wish I had a different job as the money would be steady throughout the year and wouldn’t have to worrry about truck repairs among other things. However I wouldn’t have the freedom I do now and I’d be answering to someone on top of that. So what’s a guy to do but keep plugging along till he wins the lottery 🙂

  • Antigone September 16, 2010, 8:33 pm

    I actually typed the following into ask dot com, “I am an urban planner and I want a different career” and to my surprise your blog came up. I know this is random, but I recently moved to Wisconsin with my significant other who is attending MSOE for Perfusion. While she is doing that I am reevaluating my career aspirations. But anywho.. the best of luck to you and your readers. *toodles*

  • Jeanne November 18, 2010, 3:59 pm

    Hi! I am a former urban planner with 16 years of experience and I feel locked into this identity. I plan to return to my original love: writing. Urban planning as it is currently practiced is wonderful for communities that are affluent, but low-income communities are often shortchanged. It is very difficult to plan improvements for low-income neighborhoods without public funding, but taxpayers are very tired of funding other people’s communities. I am probably going to go into teaching.

    • caitlin November 18, 2010, 5:25 pm

      Nothing wrong with a career change 🙂 Good luck!

  • Josie February 21, 2013, 9:57 pm

    Hi Caitlin,
    I’m a college student who recently developed an interest in urban planning.
    I was wondering if you could describe the ups and downs of your work and why you wouldn’t go back to it. Thanks!

    • Caitlin February 22, 2013, 9:42 am

      I liked a lot about planning. The worst thing was how long it took for projects to get approve – I worked there for 3.5 years and a project was never approved! I liked that it was creative and self-directed and that I got to interact with a lot of people. I did not enjoy how it was so subject to the whims of the market place. I worked in planning during the real estate collapse and that was not fun.

  • Monica March 3, 2013, 9:08 pm

    I love this post. I’m currently working on my bachelor’s degree in environmental studies with a concentration in geography and planning. I’m going to go to grad school for urban planning 🙂

  • Byron April 10, 2013, 7:26 am

    Hi Caitlin,

    I just had to post because this discussion is so relevant to me. I have been working as a transportation planner in NYC for two years now and love it. However, I really don’t love having to show up at an office every day, and never being able to take a month or more to travel and explore. My fiancee feels the same and we have decided to quit our jobs in spring 2014 and start traveling indefinitely. We’ll hop on our bicycles, ride across the country, then down the coast and plan to ride around S Amer, but are keeping our plans loose and open to all options. We have some money saved up but are actively working towards finding income sources that are not tied to a location. I would love to find something that is still related to planning, but that is tough for a nomad because it is so important to view the sites you are working on to get a true feeling of the place. I am also keeping my mind open to finding something that can be half a year in one place at a time, or something like that.

    Leaving our sweet jobs and wonderful apartment (in an area we’d never be able to afford if we hadn’t gotten in early) and friends and amazing New York is kind of scary, but it is also pretty scary to think about being too comfy and sitting here the rest of my life and never getting out and exploring the world they way I’d like. One of the most dangerous things in life is to become too comfortable and accepting a life that is just decent. The future will take care of itself but only you can grow you.

    I kind of did this once before when I quit my traffic engineering job and showed up at grad school for urban planning. Changed my life drastically for the better, despite the cut in pay.

    To the person who was offended by you “just falling into it”, please be careful not to take your profession too seriously. Planning is a great and important profession, but taking it, and especially credentials, too seriously will undermine your ability to be creative and open minded, which is of utmost importance in your work. You can forget that some of the most important input will come from the least likely sources and the scariest thing of all is the potential to fall into the 60’s thought of “I’m a professional who knows better, so this is what we will do.”

    Take care and be happy!

    • Caitlin April 10, 2013, 9:40 am

      I love your thought process!!!

  • William Avery May 31, 2013, 5:51 am

    Great blog Caitlin. I found this by typing in ‘town planning career change’. I’m a urban planner (if you can say that) in the UK and the image is totally different here + I’ve been stuck doing really legalistic work and quantitative which doesn’t interest me whatsoever. As it happens, I studies City Planning for a while at UPenn on exchange. Really enjoyed their courses. I too am a big supporter of liveable cities but I want to approach this in a different way as the town planning process is so frustrating. I’d rather lobby etc than trying to think up clever ways to help developers or halting development on the ‘public’ side of the fence. It also seems we share a common interest in running and triathlon. Triathlon is a big passion of mine – I’m just looking for ways to make my interests pay the bills.

  • Mark August 3, 2013, 4:00 am

    Actually, urban planning is a pretty bad career choice these days. Most decisions are made at the top, yet you are the one that has to face the community and the applicant and give them the bad news. Most departments are shrinking and salaries are stagnant. Yes, there are satisfying and rewarding aspects of the career, but more often than not many people clamoring to get things done quickly and people complaining about things and codes you cannot change does not make for a fun day to day experience. I wish I’d picked something else but now I’m stuck.

  • Stephanie August 14, 2014, 8:51 am

    Hi, I stumbled upon you blog post (from 4 years ago) while searching the internet for useful information on potentially attending grad school for urban planning. I’m currently a civil engineer and really want to make the move to become a planner. I recently spoke with a business owner of a planning company in Chicago and she essentially told me that I do not need to go to grad school to become a planner. I was wondering what your thoughts were on graduate school vs. going straight to the field.
    I know this was written a few years ago, but I really like your approach to explaining walkable neighborhoods. Any help would be VERY much appreciated!

    • Caitlin August 14, 2014, 11:16 am

      Honestly, when I entered the field in 2006, it was completely different because it was pre-market crash. I could work as a planner without a planning undergrad or grad degree because the market was pretty hot. I have no idea if that’s still the same – maybe you could call some planning firms and ask to do an informational interview with a manager?

      • caligirl September 1, 2014, 5:45 pm

        only in the united states –and the rest of the western world — could someone with merely a high school diploma walk into a planning firm and become a working urban planner. white skin privilege reeeallly sucks for the rest of us.

        • Caitlin September 2, 2014, 6:34 am

          I actually have two Bachelors degrees… But you’re right, they only hired me because I’m white.

          • caligirl September 2, 2014, 9:17 pm

            okay, i see that i misread your reply to stephanie above. my sincere apologies.

  • Nisa January 4, 2016, 1:18 am

    The way u explained abt the beauty of being an urban planner sounds so fascinating. Im currently a student of Urban planning,just went through the first semester n constantly doubting myself in this area. I feel kinda scared of the profession ..though i also feel like being a planner helps in improving ppl’s lives ..its been such a dilema for me a.plus i also dont wnt to disappoint my parents

  • Anamika Laad January 20, 2016, 9:43 am

    I am an Architect/Urban Planner working in Project Planning and Public Involvement. I am in Transportation Planning, but have interest in a lot of things.
    What do you do now? What is your work? Do you make similar or more money? I understand that you can have a very flexible routine. I have 2 little kids too. Current 8-5 M-F job is stressing me and our life. I want to go into a flexible routine, but scared of not having a steady paycheck and insurance. Advice.

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