Why did you choose to study planning?
I have always been interested in architecture and the built environment from a young age. I attended university in Vietnam but my career path took a significant turn after attending a planning project in my third year with a group of students from Hamburg University. I realised that how profoundly and extensively a planning project could change a community. I studied and worked on very realistic and practical challenges that the community was facing in their daily life. The feeling of having the power to do something positive and useful for many people even when I was still a young student with limited planning knowledge was incredibly rewarding. This experience motivated me to start pursuing planning as a profession. So I went to study it at Oxford Brookes University and I am very happy I made that decision.
As the world is constantly changing, so is planning. Planners will have to deal with numerous development issues and new challenges emerging everyday in different parts of the world. You will have the opportunity to learn something new every time you work on a project.
What has been the best thing about studying planning?
I have had so many positive experiences while studying planning at the university. I had the opportunity to work with local authorities in drafting their Neighbourhood Plan, fieldtrips, and international urban design projects. I would say the best thing about studying planning for me is the 'learning-by-doing' projects with local communities as I get to see the outcome of them fairly quickly.
Where is planning going to take you?
I am still a very young planner to settle down on a specialisation. I feel that the more knowledge planners have, the more well-informed and well thought-out development plans they produce. I would like to become an international urban designer with additional expertise in conservation and intend to continue my studies in this area. Afterwards, I would also like to do some research on instant cities and sustainable future cities. I think that in the future planners and designers will figure out a model of a self-sufficient instant city to deal with regions suffering from political conflicts or natural disasters.
Top tip for future planners?
For those who want to study planning, before you decide to do so, participate in a planning community project. What I have just said above may sound very idealistic and interesting but no road is paved with roses. Until you actually do planning, you will not truly understand what it is like to be a planner. For students who will soon be future planners, my top tip is to try getting as much experience as you can and do not be afraid to try out new specialisations and different projects. The amount of new knowledge I acquired in 6 weeks interning for the World Bank is more than that of 2 years sitting in the classroom.
Why would you recommend that students consider a career in planning?
Cities and towns are being developed everyday and they will never stop. So planners are very much needed. The fact that there are so many aspects of a city mean there are plenty of specialisations available for you to choose from. Hence, the career prospect in planning is very promising. If you love solving problems, you really should consider planning as a career. Knowing you have solved some serious problems and done something good that change people's lives is a very satisfying feeling. This will make you love your career and enable you to engage with it in the long term.
The RTPI supports each accredited Planning School by offering a student prize to be awarded to a high performing student. Linh received the RTPI Student Prize 2015-16 for her undergraduate studies at Oxford Brookes University.