I was able to reflect on my employment, what I've learned and where I felt I could improve in practice
- MA Social Anthropology - University of St Andrews
- MSc City and Regional Planning - University of Glasgow
- RTPI West of Scotland's award for 'Best Overall Planning Student'
Following my degree, I took an internship with RTPI Scotland, where I produced a research report on resourcing and funding of the Scottish planning system which assisted RTPI Scotland in developing policy positions ahead of the independent review of the planning system in 2014-2015. Following this, I secured a graduate position with Peter Brett Associates LLP (now part of Stantec) in Glasgow, where I was employed until April 2018. I worked closely with planners and economists within the Glasgow office and other offices across the UK, gaining experience in preparing planning applications and associated evidence and reports, undertaking socio-economic assessments, infrastructure strategies, site-finding exercises, contributing to Environmental Impact Assessments, Strategic Environmental Assessments, and more.
- Give yourself plenty of time when drafting the submission -The APC will give you a chance to reflect on your professional experiences and how you learn and grow as a practitioner. I found that this could not be rushed as I needed critical distance to reflect on my professional experiences, particularly in forming my case studies for the Professional Competence Statement. While some aspects of the submission are descriptive, much of it is you reflecting on your role in a task and now it links to key competencies, on your learning experiences, how you learn, and identifying where you can learn in the future (i.e. in the Professional Development Plan)—all part of becoming a reflective practitioner.
- Give yourself, your mentor and corroborator sufficient time to review your submission thoroughly. In addition to catching the odd spelling and grammatical mistakes, this will allow you, your mentor and your corroborator to offer more substantive constructive criticism which can make a real difference to the finished product.
- Establish a good working relationship with your mentor - Don't be shy to ask for guidance. There are also benefits to choosing a mentor who has recently been through the submission process themselves. My mentor was fantastic and had a lot to offer, from planning how to set and meet deadlines, to effective writing styles for my submission, advice on appropriate case studies, and much more. Admittedly, I was a little overwhelmed when beginning work on my submission because of my workload and a busy home life (having just had a baby daughter!), but my mentor was really encouraging and helped me prioritise it.
- Read the guidance, repeatedly - I found that as I drafted my submission, re-reading the guidance allowed me to identify areas that needed to be further developed. This was particularly the case in the PCS where you need to be very concise. To demonstrate I met the competencies, I mapped out which competencies would be covered by which case studies. After I completed a first draft, I physically highlighted the competencies within the case studies to ensure they were all present in the draft, well-evidenced, and worked within the context of that case study. A close reading of the guidance was also essential for the PDP, ensuring that the right amount of detail was included and that the objectives were realistic. Overall, keeping an eye on the guidance allowed me to identify concrete tasks to 'tick' off, making the workload manageable.
What does being Chartered mean to you?
In addition to Chartership being a significant personal and professional achievement, the APC process provided a critical period of reflection for me. It gave me an opportunity to evidence the skills I gained over the period of my employment at PBA and to gain recognition for it. More importantly I was able to reflect on my employment, what I've learned and where I felt I could improve in practice. It also encouraged me to take a longer-term view of my professional development.