I have gained real work experience in a fast-paced environment

Geography student
Fran Davenport
Placement at the City Planning Department at Transport for London
BA Geography with Employment Experience
Fran Davenport spent her placement year managing stakeholders and developing planning proposals for sustainable public transport at Transport for London.

Where was your placement and what did it involve?

During my placement year I worked in the City Planning Department at Transport for London. The department functions as both a key consultee regarding active planning applications across London, as well as the team involved in the future planning of the city, with a strong focus on providing effective and sustainable transport in keeping with London’s growth. 

My team, the Planning Consents team, essentially operated as an in-house consultancy. When a TfL project like a new tube station requires planning permission, my team were responsible for advising the correct consenting pathway and, eventually, when the project had developed, securing the planning permission. 

How did you find your placement? 

I found this placement via a careers email that was circulated by the School of Geography and Planning's Student Experience Officer, so definitely keep an eye out for these!

What was the most challenging aspect of your placement?

Planning is clearly a departure from my degree in Geography, but this wasn’t something that affected my ability to do well during my placement year. There was extensive support to help me get up to scratch on the A-Z of Planning, and by the end I felt confident in most situations- which working for TfL included talking to a range of important people within London’s government circles! 

That said, don’t doubt yourself when applying to placement roles- you may not have direct experience in the subject, but you will be surprised how much your geographical skills translate, and there is always the opportunity to learn while on placement. 

What was the most rewarding part of your placement?

This role was really hands-on, as placement students we were treated like permanent members of staff, which also came with the same level of responsibility. Over the course of the year, I felt I had made tangible contributions to the company, and could see these manifest physically around London as projects I worked on gained planning approval and were built. 

what advice would you give to students who are thinking about doing a placement?

A placement year was not something I had considered before, as I wasn’t keen on the idea of moving away from university (and friends) for a year. Now I’m on the other side, I can wholeheartedly say that these worries, while valid, are very much outweighed by the benefits of doing a placement year. I have gained real work experience in a fast-paced environment, in a field that I hadn’t previously studied, but now really enjoy, and had the opportunity to live in London for a year.

If a placement year isn’t something you have thought about before, I really encourage you to consider it. Have a look at the resources and links circulated to you and see if any roles appeal to you- if they do- apply!

Study with us

Join an international community of geographers, planners, and environmental scientists to help tackle the biggest issues in our changing world.