Saturday, December 7, 2013

Traveling by bus on Main Street

Wow, I stand corrected. A few years ago, due to construction projects in downtown Blacksburg, BT buses were often delayed, and some routes used detours, traveling along Alumni Mall Road, Stanger Street, and Prices Fork Road to get back to Main Street. To travel three miles via bus could take 30 to 50 minutes. I knew it had recently improved, and as Planner you'd think I know the details, but Operations handles the details of improving route efficiency and on-time performance. Plus, I'm an avid commuter-cyclist and rarely ride the bus myself! Now, according to Google Transit, one can make a 3.1 mile trip Monday morning from the bus stop at Main/Red Maple to the Blacksburg Square shopping center on South Main Street in 16-17 minutes! This is quite convenient, even for a "towney" who wants to take the bus during a busy time, assuming there is room on the bus (which can be a problem during busy times). Now traveling on the weekends (or during reduced/break service when the university is not in session) is more limited and takes more time: For example, bus services do not start until 9:45 am on Saturday, and would involve about a 1-mile walk to the nearest stop on Prices Fork Road near Progress Street for a 40-minute journey, including a transfer from the University City Blvd (UCB) bus to the Main Street South (MSS) bus. A fast walker could make this trip in 45-60 minutes, and a cyclist could do it in 15-20 minutes. Transit ain't perfect, but I think BT is still offering some great services.

16-17-minute bus trip View Larger Map

40-minute bus trip with 1 mile walk View Larger Map

Friday, December 6, 2013

Finding a Planning (or any) Job

I was recently emailed this question, "I read that you gave a presentation on job searching for young planners . . . we'd appreciate any guidance you could provide.  Do you have a paper, powerpoint, or some other presentation that I could pass around?"

Finding a job in any profession takes planning. Here is a summary of my response, including some quick advice, three videos, two slide shows, and two articles.

Quick advice for job searching and networking:
  1. Visit your career center and the website. This is a free resource to help with strategy, resumes, and even mock-interviews.
  2. Decide what job(s) you want, specifically, and write it down in one title and one sentence.
  3. Get your resume(s) polished.
  4. Reconnect or make new connections with recent graduates, professors, people you met at conferences.
  5. Work on a 30 second pitch, both verbally and in writing.
  6. Develop your "marketing materials" following a theme to "brand" yourself, including a decent photo.
  7. Marketing materials should include resume, social media profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blog, website, portfolio), and yes, an actual business card (available for free/cheap).
  8. Set a time goal, and then locate some volunteer or intern opportunities or create one!
  9. Go to a national profession conference and other local conferences and meetings (e.g., APA in April, APA-Virginia, GUAPA, UAPSA. A good investment - students can go free/cheap/as volunteers.
  10. Network, meet people, reach out, talk more, be nice. You never know who will lead you to what and who you might run into again.
Three video resources with tips on resumes, job search, networking, and conference:

Two PowerPoint files on conferences, pitches, & networking:


  1. Attending Conferences: Pitches & Networking (on slideshare)
  2. Networking: Before & After (on slideshare)
 Two Job-Finding articles:
  1. Writing a Resume That Works - on the APA site or as a PDF on Google Docs
  2. Networking for Job Opportunities - on the APA site or as a PDF on Google Docs
And join APA (or another appropriate professional society/group) and visit the Student Section - see the "Landing A Planning Job" section for more tips and resources!

Good luck!