Grads – Where Is Your Planning Career Heading?
By Town Planning Recruitment Specialist Katie Ayre & Talent Manager Hannah Clarke
It’s been a blast of a few years. You’ve made life-long friends and you have your degree in hand. But now you are wondering where will my next steps be?
Do not fear. This is completely normal. As is the next question: ‘Will I even work in a field related to my degree? You’d be surprised how many graduates don’t.
Work experience is key. A summer internship working in a planning role is definitely a great thing to do. It adds a new layer to your CV that will help you climb to the top of the pile when employers are hiring graduate planners. Which begs another question – public or private?
It’s a traditional divide in planning, and though it’s still apparent, is less marked than it once was. Historically, planners would start in the public sector and might migrate to the private sector as they learnt their trade and their skills developed. Nowadays, the planning field is far more fluid, with many more graduate roles available off the bat in the private sector and planners moving quite freely between the two.
Each has pros and cons, and requires a slightly different skills set to excel. Here’s where your internship (or even internships plural) comes into play. By exposing yourself to one or other sector – or even both – you’ll have a better idea of where your own strengths and preferences lie and which sector to target from the get-go.
The good news is that there’s a skills gap in planning, particularly in development management.
Both local authorities and consultancies are for graduates with up-to-date planning knowledge, an eagerness to learn and willingness to work hard. “I’m looking for the right attitude,” one public sector development manager told us, “you can teach someone to determine a planning application, but you can’t teach someone the right attitude.”
This means going above and beyond for colleagues, and being passionate about learning and developing while showing a hands-on attitude to customer service. It’s important to keep a step ahead – by knowing where the council is up to in its local plan, understanding the issues facing the local area or framing the constructive advice that will help a client push ahead with a long-term project. Do your research, take an interest and you’ll impress your new employer. You’ll also improve your chances of securing that second position that you really want, then you’re really on your way.
On the flip side, it could be that you have obtained your degree but a career in planning is not on the cards for you. Again, changing your mind is normal. Have you ever considered a profession using your planning skill set but applied to a different field? Property recruitment perhaps?! It could be the answer you were looking for; it’s a whole new direction altogether, but another way to ensure a career of success you had never even perhaps imagined and where the opportunities are endless!
Either way, come and talk to us at Oyster and we’ll help you find the direction that suits you.