Sarah Hall

MSc Planning Practice and Research (2010)
Current Job: 
Graduate Town Planner, WYG Planning & Design

Why did you choose Cardiff University as a place to study?

I researched RTPI accredited Town Planning courses online and Cardiff University was ranked as the largest and best planning school in the UK.  It is also internationally recognised which was a major pull factor as I have aspirations to work abroad at some point during my career.

At the time, University tuition fees in Wales were considerably cheaper than elsewhere in England, which was important because I didn’t want to add to my student debt.

What was the best thing about your time as a student at Cardiff?

Getting to live in the heart of Cardiff as it’s a beautiful city, with a great night life, a wide range of shops, lively water front, leafy parks and everything is within walking distance.

Despite only being there a year I made some excellent friends. The Planning world is very small and you will continue to bump into old course mates in the work place or at RTPI conferences throughout your career.

What thing or person inspired you most whilst you were a Cardiff University student?

The staff I got to know the most during my time at Cardiff were Neil Harris and Huw Thomas.  They are both very approachable and gave me excellent advice with regards to my dissertation, course work, job hunting and interview preparation.  Their lecturing styles couldn’t be more different but both were very informative.

What one thing would you tell someone else about the School of Planning and Geography at Cardiff?

The school often organises lunchtime sessions where Planning professionals are invited to give presentations about their career and company.  Make the most of these events. The presentations are normally given by a senior member of staff and a recent graduate who are happy to answer your questions. It’s a good opportunity to hand out your CV and learn more about the different types of Planning careers available.

Attend the optional RTPI APC lectures which give useful advice on how to complete the log book and 5,000 word essay which are required in order to become a chartered Town Planner.

How did your degree most help you in the career or job you have now chosen?

The structure of the course is very academic and the transition into the work place was quite difficult, but I think this is true of most degrees. However, the course did teach me how to produce well written and structured reports, how to effectively research, analyse and critique information, how to work as part of a team and present confidently in front of lecturers, professionals and my peers.

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 a Graduate Town Planner at WYG Planning & Design. I got the job through networking at a public consultation event that WYG were running for the development of a new Sainsbury’s store.

I have had the opportunity to work on large scale residential projects across the South West as well as smaller householder applications. A typical week can involve site visits, client meetings, preparing, submitting and monitoring planning applications, appeals, planning committees and consultation workshops. I enjoy the variety of the work and knowing that there is always more to learn because the planning system is constantly changing.

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?

I needed an RTPI accredited degree in order to follow my career aspirations of becoming a Town Planner. Obtaining a degree from a well recognised and respected Planning School, such as Cardiff is essential when there is so much competition amongst graduates in the current economic climate.

Tell us any interesting facts about yourself, hobbies or interests that you have.

I was born in Hong Kong and spent the first 10 years of my life living in various cities around South East Asia including Seoul, Singapore and Jakarta, and I’ve continued to travel a great deal since.  I studied martial arts for six years and have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.