Studying at Sheffield is definitely a highly rewarding experience in my life
Why did you choose to study in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield?
What the city has given me, I hope to give back to the city. This is the reason why I chose to study town planning. Growing up in the most densely populated city in the world, Hong Kong, I was exposed to a variety of planning issues pertaining to traffic congestion, the lack of affordable housing, and environmental conservation, I came to decide that town planning will be a satisfying way for me to be directly involved in the developments of the community that surrounded me as well as giving me the opportunity to work at the connections among those issues. It is acknowledged that The University of Sheffield is one of the best planning schools in the UK which offers a diverse range of courses with aspiring and nurturing teaching staff. Studying at Sheffield is definitely a highly rewarding experience in my life.
What is your most memorable thing from Sheffield?
Sheffield looks pretty in the snow so you can always see a large number of people outside enjoying the weather. I miss the time when I was making snowmen, sledging, and engaging in snowball fights with my friends in Weston Park. I also miss the green spaces and nearby Peak District.
Where do you work now and what does your day-to-day work involve?
I am currently working as a planning officer at Eastleigh Borough Council. My role is to be responsible for a caseload of planning applications where new household building projects are proposed. My day-to-day work involves writing reports that include professional recommendations on whether development proposals should be granted planning permission; checking if the proposed development is in compliance with local planning policies; conducting site visits to assess the residential amenity impact related to the development effect upon a neighbour's outlook, privacy, sunlight; liaising with local residents, internal specialists, and project architect.
Which elements of your job do you most enjoy?
As I explored the community through the eyes of a planning officer, I gradually understood how urban issues were related and got to know the surrounding neighbourhoods and districts. I love conducting site visits and it plays a key role in my job. No amount of work in the office can beat being on-site.
How did your studies at Sheffield prepare you for your career?
My MA programme engaged me academically and in practice with planning and related fields of knowledge. The curriculum covers the UK's specific policy and practice as well as a range of international case studies, and most of my course work focused on creating solutions for community development to create better neighbourhoods. I also had access to regularly University and departmental career events. After finishing my short placement at Rochdale Borough Council, I was sure that I wanted to focus on long-term planning and have a career in the public sector. The skills and experiences that I gained in my MA course are the bedrock of my current position.
What would be your advice to other international students considering studying in Sheffield?
Planning is inherently an interdisciplinary profession, and town planner tends to be relatively a generalist rather than a specialist. My advice for someone considering studying urban planning is to have an open mind yet tailor your urban planning coursework to support any of your interests.
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