Why did you choose Cardiff University as a place to study?
I was attracted to Cardiff University for my undergraduate studies given the reputation of the School, as one of the leading town planning education institutions, and the suitability of the BSc City and Regional Planning to my interests. The course at the time was one of only a handful of planning schools offering a placement year opportunity which I knew would be highly valuable for my personal and professional development and well as improving employment prospects.
Having thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate studies I felt there was little reason to change School to undertake my Masters, and moreover, the range of 'specialist' Masters offered by the School gave me a reasonably broad choice. I enrolled on the MSc Sustainability, Planning and Environmental Policy as it seemed to marry my two keen interests of town planning and the environment with a range of appropriate modules.
What was the best thing about your time as a student at Cardiff?
Cardiff was a great city to be a student. It has all the appeal of a large city, but in a more compact fashion. There are always cultural and sporting events happening, which make it a great place to live as a student. During my studies I became a keen member of the Cardiff University Rambling and Hiking Club, which provided me with the opportunity to see a great deal of the countryside and mountains the region has to offer.
What thing or person inspired you most whilst you were a Cardiff University student?
Being awarded two Scholarships during my time at Cardiff University really encouraged me to invest my own energy into my studies. I was awarded the George Rich Scholarship from the Jean Rich Foundation after my second year and then a Formula Santander Postgraduate Scholarship for my Masters. They provided the funds to further my studies in many ways, for example attending conferences, site visits and buying resources. However, perhaps the most standout moment opened up by the Scholarships was opportunity to travel to Finland and attend a Urban Design and Planning Summer School in August 2010.
What one thing would you tell someone else about the School of Planning and Geography at Cardiff?
I would speak highly of the support and encouragement given by the academic and support staff. Although university is a lot more about independent study, I can’t remember a moment when a member of staff did not provide further support and guidance when asked. The staff were willing to go out of their way to help, whether that be arranging a meeting at short notice or replying to emails timely and helpfully.
How did your degree most help you in the career or job you have now chosen?
The courses I studied at Cardiff University were very vocational and focused towards a career in town planning given the content of the courses and their accreditation by the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. The courses very much therefore provided the foundation for my career by providing the theoretical and academic understanding of town planning, while the work experience I undertook, both independently and through the placement year of the undergraduate course, provided the practical experience to secure employment in town planning.
Tell us a bit about your current job, how you got into what you are doing and what you enjoy about it most.
I am currently working as a Graduate Planner at Savills within the Cardiff Office. Previously I was working as a part-time Assistant Planner in the company whilst studying for my Masters and before that I spent three months working in London on the company’s Summer Scheme.
As a Graduate Planner I provide assistance to all members of the planning team on a wide range of work. I have worked on a number of planning applications and appeals across England and Wales for a variety of developments, land uses and clients. I enjoy assisting senior colleagues on major regeneration and the larger projects, whilst having the opportunity to lead smaller applications for clients.
I think a lot about getting into planning and my current job was about securing work experience that demonstrates enthusiasm and the ability to put into practice what you pick up in the classroom. We were encouraged by the School to seek work experience in between our first and second years and luckily I managed to get a short period of work experience at my Local Planning Authority – East Hampshire District Council. This then provided me with experience for my CV and something to talk about during interviews when it came to applying for the placement year as part of the undergraduate course. I did my placement year within Bristol City Council’s Development Management team which in turn provided vital experience to secure a place on the Savills Summer Scheme which then enabled me to work hard and secure a full-time position at the company.
What opportunities do you feel have opened up to you as a result of being a student at the Cardiff School of Planning and Geography?
The School has a good reputation and many in the field recognise this. As I continue to meet and network with highly regarded professionals many are alumni of the School I am able to positively discuss with them my experiences of the School, and establish who the long serving members of academic staff are!
Tell us any interesting facts about yourself, hobbies or interests that you have.
I volunteered as a Games Maker during the London 2012 Olympic Games, where I worked as a Sports Statistician – part of a team recording the type of every serve, shot, ace and error! I got to watch a great deal of incredible tennis, meet the world’s best tennis players in person and work with many other amazing volunteers and staff. It was a simply incredible experience and something I will never forget!