Why did you choose to study planning?
The decision to study planning developed through a keen interest in both geography and design at school. I have always been a fairly creative person and studied Architecture for a few years before heading over to Planning. With a passion for design, studying Planning at Dundee allowed me to continue to develop my creative skills whilst learning about policy and regulation. Planning really is a social subject where you work with different communities and individuals. I felt Dundee partnered the need for professional skills and academic knowledge with creative thinking and urban design in an engaging and exciting way!
Having graduated earlier this year, I spent some time within the Development Management team at Aberdeenshire Council before securing a private sector position with Montagu Evans in Edinburgh. I am now involved in a variety of projects with my team and very much looking forward to picking up my interest in urban design when dealing with more complex proposals. I am thoroughly enjoying life in the private sector and I am hoping to achieve full RTPI membership in the next few years!
What has been the best thing about studying planning?
I think the best thing about studying planning is realising that planning is everywhere. There are lots of opportunities to specialise in areas which interest you whether that be community engagement, design and master planning or environmental sustainability. I feel the broad topic area allows you to work with people from across different sectors where no two days are the same! Whilst studying at Dundee we took part in a range of practice based activities from master planning competitions to site visits and conferences, not to mention an action-packed trip to experience planning within the European context!
Top tip for future planners?
My top tip for future planners would be to make sure you get out the office! Whether it's a site visit at work or a field trip at university, planning is definitely not about sitting behind a desk all day – seeing planning and development happening on the ground is key, and definitely much more exciting!
Another important tip would be to network. You soon find that planning is a small world and you come across familiar faces from time to time. Personally I found volunteering with Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) a great way of meeting other planners whilst also giving something back too! Another thing to think about whilst studying is gaining some work experience. I was lucky enough to work within Fife and Dundee Local Planning Authorities which really helped me by putting academic knowledge into practice.
Why would you recommend that students consider a career in planning?
A career in planning will set you up with a wide range of professional skills which are transferable to wherever life may take you. By its nature planning is a broad subject allowing you to specialise in areas that you are interested in. Planning is always in the process of change and ultimately the learning never stops; however I think being part of a sector which is continuously moving forward can only be seen as a good thing!
The RTPI supports each accredited Planning School by offering a student prize to be awarded to a high performing student. Lisa received the RTPI Student Prize 2014-15 for her studies at the University of Dundee.