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Struggling to find Urban Planning position

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  1. #1

    Struggling to find Urban Planning position

    Hello! I am looking for an Urban Planning job in Hong Kong. I have a Masters degree from Columbia University, and have sent in applications to a bunch of firms, but haven't heard back. I don't speak Chinese and feel that may be a setback but i'm not sure. Is anybody here familiar with the field and willing to provide guidance? Also, what salary can I expect starting out in Hong Kong?


  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Will you need an employment visa?


  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shahneez:
    Hello! I am looking for an Urban Planning job in Hong Kong. I have a Masters degree from Columbia University, and have sent in applications to a bunch of firms, but haven't heard back. I don't speak Chinese and feel that may be a setback but i'm not sure. Is anybody here familiar with the field and willing to provide guidance? Also, what salary can I expect starting out in Hong Kong?
    Whats your experience level? Do you need a visa?

  4. #4

    No, I won't need a visa. I have about a year of post-graduate experience and quite a few internship experiences.


  5. #5

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    do they actually urban plan in hk ? hmmm

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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by freeier:
    do they actually urban plan in hk ? hmmm
    Sure they do: Concrete can go here -- and let's pour some more concrete here, oh and let's put a concrete bench facing a concrete wall here. Oh that sea doesn't look too nice, let's fill that up, too....

    Anyway, OP, have you considered applying to some green groups or even working with politicians? Places like Designing Hong Kong come to mind. Probably wouldn't pay very much.
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  7. #7

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    Well, I was looking to see if there were academic jobs and there are some, maybe you have already applied- I think the academics would like the Columbia degree...academic jobs probably don't pay well but look good on the resume, help you get something you want in the private sector. English alone probably OK for academic jobs...

    https://www.indeed.hk/jobs?q=Urban%2...58ca5758354338

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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shahneez:
    No, I won't need a visa. I have about a year of post-graduate experience and quite a few internship experiences.
    Great you won't need a visa, unfortunately there is still probably not much available for you here. As mentioned some green groups such as Designing HK or Civic Exchange may be a good start to try and get your foot in the door. Some of the bigger private consultancies may be interested. Or look at the larger multidisciplinary groups such as ARUPs etc. Bizarrely HK has more Planning graduates than jobs, unlike most of the rest of the world, so pay is low (especially at the lower levels) and jobs are hard to get. You may want to reconsider HK at this stage in your career if you don't get anything soon, and possibly come back with more experience.

    Are you a member of the HKIP? Have you done the HKU papers required to be a registered planner in HK? All things to think about.

    Also suggest you read some books on the lands/planning system in HK, with the lease situation it is a bit different. Some good places to start are: https://www.amazon.com/Land-Administ.../dp/9888083805

    and

    The User’s Guide to the Town Planning Process: How the public can participate in the Hong Kong Planning System – Civic Exchange

    The last one is old, but will be the simplest way to understand the system and its not really outdated.
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  9. #9

    Hmm, yes it is proving quite difficult to land a job here. They do planning very differently, mostly as a side wing of engineering/architectural projects. I am in the process of obtaining HKIP membership. That may open some more doors for me, I suppose. And thanks for sharing the readings!


  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shahneez:
    Hmm, yes it is proving quite difficult to land a job here. They do planning very differently, mostly as a side wing of engineering/architectural projects. I am in the process of obtaining HKIP membership. That may open some more doors for me, I suppose. And thanks for sharing the readings!
    Well yes and no, it depends what kind of Planning you want to do. There are planning firms who focus on master planning and do this in HK and also in other countries. There are planning firms who are more on the development side (so submissions to the government). There is also a fair number of appeals to the Town Planning Appeal Board and through the court system if you are interested in the more legal side of planning. And there is a fair amount of heritage / ecological related projects.

    The problem is with your lack of experience, and your total lack of experience in the local planning system, the opportunities available to you are limited. If not non-existent.

    I highly suggest that you apply for jobs in HK, but also apply for jobs in other countries where you may get better initial experience and pay and then aim to move to HK at a later date if you wish. Lots of places have a shortage of planners and so it may be quite feasible to get a job and a visa to other places.

    It is good to get a general depth of experience in all aspects of Planning if you can. Then you need to decide what you want to focus on. So for example if you want to be a Master Planner then you need to try and take jobs that are going to help give you exposure to Master Planning. These firms usually are specialist and unlikely to be big into other types of planning such as the more legal side of planning etc. They are usually based in the developed world and work globally so this involves lots of travel to places where there is a lot of large scale development happening (China, India, Africa etc). You need to enjoy both Master Planning, intense deadlines and potential lots of work travel (when you get higher up, initially you will just slog away with no travel).

    So I would suggest you try and get a job at a generalist firm initially but then look at what interests you and then try to find a way into firms that have very good reputations in their local area or globally depending on the type of planning that you want to do. I would say you also need to decide how ambitious you are. Do you just want a 9-5 job or do you want to be a mover and a shaker? The answer will determine how carefully you need to plan your career. HK is not a great place to start your planning career in my opinion.
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