Tom has a degree in geography and an MSc in Planning Practice and Research. He works as a planner for a planning consultancy.
I chose a career in planning originally on the advice of one of my tutors at Exeter University. Having chosen land-use planning modules as part of my geography degree, I felt it was very interesting and something that I'd like to explore further. Town planning captured my attention because of the myriad ways planning affects our lives: where we live, where we work, how we travel, where our children go to school, to name but a few.
My tutor recommended that if I was serious about a career in town planning I should take a Masters course accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) . I looked into universities with accredited courses and selected Cardiff University to continue my studies.
Towards the end of my Masters, I decided to go into consultancy rather than a local authority as I felt it would offer a much wider variety of work at the forefront of planning. I signed up with a recruitment agency and after several interviews was offered a position at Scott Wilson.
I think studying geography at undergraduate level was very beneficial to my career as it introduced me to the whole concept of planning. Geography, and particularly human geography, taught me many useful skills, which I used during my postgraduate course and in my career. These include an understanding of wider issues, such as climate change and population dynamics, and more generic skills, such as how to manage research projects and gather and statistically analyse data. The writing skills I developed have also proved useful in my career.
In my role at Scott Wilson I perform a very wide variety of tasks. I project manage the preparation and submission of small planning applications and contribute towards other major applications, such as the regeneration of communities, major infrastructure and new towns. I also project manage and contribute to policy work that helps to shape development across England. Much of my work is report based but I also go out on site fairly regularly and attend client meetings and consultation events with the public.
My position within Scott Wilson has developed from a purely supporting role on simple projects to a point where I now manage small schemes, their budgets and the staff that work on them. I'm also progressively increasing my input into larger and more complex projects, which are far more demanding but also far more rewarding.
I particularly enjoy the continued variety and challenge of my job. No two projects are the same and I'm continually challenged to find solutions to often very sensitive issues.
My goal is to progress to a more senior level within the company and manage complex schemes of regional importance.
My best tip, whether you're going into private or public work, is to get some work experience. Spend a week with a consultancy or a local authority and see for yourself whether you enjoy the work they do. Both offer different pros and cons and it's important that you have an understanding of what they do and how they differ.
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