While the current planning market is buoyant, this doesn’t mean planners can just walk straight into their dream job. There are certain steps a student planner or a graduate planner will need to take to ensure they position themselves correctly so that when the right role comes calling they are ready. Below are four things that will help consolidate your move into the planning sector:
Experience a placement in the industry
Many private sector companies and local authorities will offer the opportunities for students in their final year or recently graduated planners to work short-term placements with their planning departments. This is the first step on the ladder and arguably your most important step as you will have the opportunity to gain firsthand experience of working in the planning world. Any discussions with a senior manager at your placement with whom you may not have day-to-day involvement will help you develop a wider view and accelerate your learning process from someone who’s been there.
Attend employability events
The RTPI has an extensive calendar of events at both regional and national level. We hear about the importance of networking on a daily basis from all sorts of angles and there’s a good reason for it! Networking is key to getting your name out there and also to learn more about the state of the market for your own knowledge. This will help you gauge different organisations and form your own opinions on which type of company you want to work for, whether you want to work in the public or private sector and even which function you want to specialise in.
Every planner wanting to progress needs to demonstrate a determination to be successful in their respected field of work. No doubt you will have overcome certain difficulties at university – now is the time when you may need to lean on that experience and show that determination to get a break in the planning sector. There are plenty of great private and public sector organisations willing to give a chance to the right candidate. What sets you apart from the rest?
This may sound obvious but still needs mentioning. Knowing the technicalities of the role you want to go into is vital, this is attained through learning and also research of the specific demands of the organisations you are interested in. For example, if it’s development management roles that you are putting yourself forward for then it would be useful to have a knowledge base of related areas. This will show potential employers that you don’t operate with tunnel vision and have the creativity and imagination required for the role.
By Farid Ahmed, principal consultant at Oyster Partnership