I wanted to get some experience of how planning works in real life
Where were you based for your placement year and what was your role?
I worked as a placement planning consultant at Pegasus Group, in the East Midlands office.
Why did you want to do a placement?
I wanted to get some experience of how planning works in real life - a lot of uni work is theoretical, so it’s been really interesting to apply my learning to practical situations. A lot of the planning processes are different to how I thought they’d be - so I think it’s been good to learn about this before graduating. I also felt that it would be beneficial for my post-grad. job search to gain experience in a professional environment, as I felt this would improve my confidence when it came to applying for graduate roles.
What did you do day-to-day on the placement?
My work was split between internal and external work:
Internal work was primarily monitoring the planning landscape in the East Midlands, where the office (and most of my colleagues' project work) is based. This included monitoring and logging Local Plans, 5 Year Housing Land Supply, policy changes, major applications in the area and relevant council committee meetings. I also monitored the progress of individual applications for colleagues, communicating with the LPA if needed to move applications forward.
External work was focussed on aiding client’s planning applications - assisting colleagues on public consultations and small planning applications, writing up supporting documents such as Consultation and Compliance Statements, and forming initial planning appraisal reports for prospective projects. I also spent time submitting and monitoring planning applications through the Planning Portal.
What skills from your course did you use on your placement?
The main skills I have used from Uni are soft skills: self-organisation, -discipline and -motivation, all of which are pretty key when you are prioritising and completing tasks independently. A lot of the practical/day-to-day skills I picked up as I went along, although having knowledge of the planning system and processes was obviously an important basis to have!
As difficult as it was, I also think attending Uni remotely for 18 months enabled me to use these soft skills, helping on my placement as a lot of my work was completed independently and often remotely - I worked in a hybrid environment where I spent 1-2 days per week working from home.
How has the department's employability team helped to support you?
The employability team were really helpful with answering questions before I started my placement - they help with all the paperwork and administration before you go out on the placement, which is probably the most stressful part of the whole process! Whilst I was out on placement, they set up regular meetings with us so we can talk with other placement students and to the PEER team, to discuss our workload and progress, as well as giving a chance to talk about any issues we might have and discuss the return to Uni.
Has your placement helped shape your future career plans?
Completing this placement has given me such an insight into how planning consultancy works day-to-day, and given me some experience in the planning process. It has also given me the opportunity to experience office culture and the 9-5 routine for a year - which is definitely a culture shock after Uni! I think it has helped me to better understand what I want in my future career, as well as understanding what working routines (e.g. Hybrid working) help me to be more productive.