Employment and Internship Opportunities

General Employment Information

Employment with the Division is very limited unless one has competed through a formal hiring process, which is described below.

The formal hiring process one applies for is a specific position advertised in an open recruitment process. These positions are posted at the Human Resources Department. Notice of such recruitments will be noted above in summary form. Always check the Human Resources site for specifics.

If one meets the minimum eligibility requirements, one is invited to an initial interview. A score is given to each candidate as part of the initial interview process and all candidates are ranked in order of their scores. A selection interview is then conducted some weeks later by the Division management staff who interview a minimal number of candidates by their rank. Following the selection interview an offer is made and hopefully a position is filled. The process can seem very slow at times and may be delayed for such reasons as budgetary impacts, scheduling conflicts, etc. Please be patient; the public hiring process often differs from that in the private sector.

One exception to hiring staff from an established list of qualified candidates is if an individual is a student. High school or college students can be hired as “extra help” without going through the normal recruitment process described above. There are few extra-help staff, due to ongoing budgetary constraints, but sometimes there are special projects that students are capable of handling and funds are available to pay them. Extra-help staff are not regular employees as far as benefits are concerned and are limited in the number of hours that they can work. Students who would like experience in a Planning office can serve as “interns/volunteers” and gain experience, but without pay. See Internship Opportunities.

Another exception to being hired through the formal process is to be hired as a contract employee through a temporary agency (Core Staff). Such employees are limited to 90 days of work and usually need a referral to Core Staff from the Division before being considered for a limited-term position.

Internship Opportunities

The Planning Division has sponsored an active planning internship program since the early 1980s. The following is an outline of the internship program. It sets forth the goals of the program and the responsibilities of both the Division and the intern. It is also a functional listing of experiences that the Planning Division hopes each intern will have, and therefore serves as a checklist against which an intern can judge how much experience he/she has gained while working in the Division.

Contacting the Planning Division

Interested parties should contact the Intern Coordinator, Denice Thomas, at (805) 654-2685 to discuss the program and determine whether it is a suitable match and whether there are any vacancies. A resume and at least one professional reference will be requested, followed by a face-to-face interview. In general, the Planning Division receives far more applicants for internships than can reasonably be accommodated, particularly during the summer months. Therefore, it’s advised that potential interns contact the Intern Coordinator as early as possible for consideration.

General Provisions

The program is generally intended for individuals who are considering a career in the Planning field.  The program is geared toward students currently studying urban planning, environmental science or related fields with an interest in gaining practical experience in a public agency.  Recent graduates are also welcome to apply.  Over the years, participants have included lawyers, historians, archivists, geographers, and students of environmental and urban studies.

There is no fixed season or schedule for internships; they may start and end at any time agreed upon by the Intern Coordinator. However, a minimum commitment of 15 hours per week for at least 12 weeks is required in order to benefit from the broad training that will be provided. Although scheduling is flexible, interships occur during regular business hours only. That is, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We do not offer after hours or weekend internships. 

Interns are volunteers who participate in the program to gain practical experience. Due to budgetary and personnel hiring constraints, the Planning Division is unable to provide monetary compensation to interns.

Goals and Objectives of the Internship Program:

  • Allow individuals to complement their education with practical planning experience.
  • Expose individuals to a professional office environment.
  • Expose individuals to a large planning department with diverse functions.
  • Allow individuals to “test drive” planning as a possible profession.
  • Provide a venue for students to obtain internship credit for graduation.
  • Provide actual job experience that allows individuals to better compete for jobs.
  • Give individuals challenging tasks and responsibilities that promote personal growth.
  • Expose individuals to the interconnected relationships between various governmental bodies.
  • Expose individuals to the role of politics in planning and government in general.
  • Expose individuals to public administration issues in a government department.

The Planning Division’s Role:

  • Welcome interns and make them feel comfortable so they can do their best.
  • Provide the venue for learning.
  • Provide supervision, mentoring, and training.
  • Based on an intern’s interests, try to arrange suitable assignments.
  • Offer feedback on an intern’s performance.
  • Sign-off on class related documents indicating that an internship was completed.
  • Offer recommendations to prospective employers.
  • Treat interns as virtual staff members with the attendant privileges and responsibilities.
  • Challenge interns to work up to their potential and “stretch” themselves.

The Intern’s Responsibilities:

  • Treat the internship like a real job.
  • And ability to articulate to the Intern Coordinator what he/she hopes to learn from the internship (e.g. general exposure to planning issues or concentrated exposure to one facet of planning).

General Activities to be Pursued:

  • Attend staff meetings for the various Planning sections – Regional Programs, Current Planning, Long Range Planning, Code Enforcement, etc.
  • Attend Division staff meetings.
  • Attend “New Case” meetings to see how new projects are assessed and initially processed.
  • Attend a Planning Commission Hearing.
  • Attend a Board of Supervisors Hearing.
  • Meet most, if not all, Planning staff and learn what they do.
  • Meet staff from other divisions/agencies and learn how they interface with Planning.
  • Attend other hearings and meetings of interest (Cultural Heritage Board, Mobile Home Rent Review Board, etc.).

Public Counter Assignments:

  • Read the two Zoning Ordinances (Coastal and Non-coastal).
  • Read the General Plan Goals and Policies.
  • Review General Plan Land Use Maps.
  • Review the Planning GIS Mapping program for various datalayers.
  • Be able to locate Assessor Parcels on Zoning Maps when given an Assessor’s Parcel Number.
  • Be able to determine the zoning for a given parcel.
  • Be able to piece together adjoining Zoning Maps given different scales and orientations.
  • Be able to use engineering and architect’s scales on maps and plans.
  • Reviewed a full set of house plans and be able to locate key elements of the project (setbacks, building height, etc.).
  • Observe pre-submittal meetings for a variety of projects – residential, commercial, etc.
  • Write up a Zoning Clearance for a project.
  • Know how to look up information on the counter computer for a parcel and understand it.
  • Know the relative relationship of the General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and permits issued.
  • Know how to look for answers to basic questions in the Zoning Ordinance.

Zoning Enforcement/Condition Compliance Assignments:

  • Be able to determine if a complaint is a potential violation.
  • Make one or more site visits with an enforcement or Condition Compliance officer.
  • Prepare enforcement letters for different cases – alleged violation, violation, etc.
  • Understand the concept of proving a case with evidence.
  • Be exposed to negotiations with a violator to achieve resolution of a case.
  • Understand how the computer system assists in the enforcement program.

Specific Assignments:

  • Complete a variety of different tasks to gain as broad as possible exposure to the range of issues dealt with by a planning department.
  • Complete several in-depth projects to gain experience in identifying problems, defining solutions, designing programs, researching needed information, presenting the problem and recommendations to others, implementing the solution/program, evaluating the outcome to determine if the initial objectives were achieved.

Tools and Techniques for Learning:

  • Keep a notebook to write down questions and observations.
  • Regularly ask questions of the planners you are working with, or the intern coordinator. This will allow one to gain correct information and a proper experience, which in turn will allow one to move into more demanding situations with confidence.
  • Log how much time one spends as an intern. This may be useful in future job applications as personnel departments tally up total months and years of experience in the field. Note also which calendar period one interned (e.g. January 3, 2000, to June 24, 2000).
  • Note the assignments and experiences one had and if possible what you learned with each experience.
  • Record the names and phone numbers of the planners you worked with so you can call on them to provide future job references on your behalf (be sure to ask first!).