Working well in a team is a key skill in many industries, and your time at University is the best way to grow and evidence your ability – be it through assignment group work or student societies and sports.
Graduation year: 2020; 2021
Degree Title(s): BA Geography, 2020; MSc Urban and Regional Planning, 2021
Job title: Graduate Town Planner
What does your role involve? I deliver the urban planning requirements across a range of infrastructure projects such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, East West Rail, and the A57.
Can you describe the journey you went on to get this role? My first opportunity in urban planning actually came by accident, as I had applied to an International Social and Environmental Due Diligence internship but many of the staff were in fact away on international projects and so were unavailable to mentor me. However, my enthusiasm in the interview shone through and I was recommended to the planning team. Ever since that first lucky accident, I have pursued opportunities in various areas of urban planning alongside my studies, making me both a well-rounded student and graduate job applicant.
What do you enjoy most about your job? Joining an innovative built environment consultancy such as Atkins has enabled me to pursue my academic interests in research by creating practical solutions to social and environmental issues such as achieving net zero, addressing the ecological crisis and creating healthy urban lifestyles.
How did your time at Birmingham help prepare you for this role? Working in an inter-disciplinary consultancy allows me to share ideas with a range of specialists such as ecologists, engineers, designers. This communication is crucial to generating innovative solutions but also means I get to learn something new every day. Working well in a team is a key skill in many industries, and your time at University is the best way to grow and evidence your ability – be it through assignment group work or student societies and sports. Contributing to various student society committees during my studies developed the co-ordination, time management and leadership skills that are key to becoming a successful candidate. Your time at University provides many opportunities to become confident in your strengths, and Careers Network are there to help you apply that into your journey beyond.
What advice would you give to students interested in getting into your industry or role? Urban planning is a skillset that exists across a broad range of industries with almost entirely different opportunities. You can lead projects in private sectors such as commercial, residential or infrastructure planning – or alternatively influence decision-making in the public sector through local authorities or national governance. This great variety is why it’s important to engage with a range of professionals and work opportunities as much as possible, and the Careers Network helps you do exactly that!
How did the University of Birmingham help you on your career path? The Careers Network was absolutely crucial at every step of the way. In the lead up to my major opportunities during my studies I made sure to access some form of support, whether it was a skills workshop, a 1 on 1 interview preparation appointment, or the online CV checker. After attending an ‘Insight into Careers in Human Geography’ event, I made a connection with one of the speakers from David Lock Associates who recommended that I apply for work experience with the company in Milton Keynes. The Careers Network then continued to help me with updating my CV and I was even able to secure a work experience bursary to support my travel and accommodation expenses!
How did studying at Birmingham inspire you in your graduate path? I had absolutely no idea about urban planning as a career path until picking up a module about addressing neighbourhood poverty in my second year of studying Geography. After that, it became the best opportunity.
Why should someone considering their university options come and study with us at Birmingham? The University of Birmingham sits within a thriving city which is undergoing a huge transformation that brings many opportunities for students to get involved across all sectors. The careers team is already incredibly well-connected into this network to help make the transition from your degree to career seamless.
What was your favourite thing about studying at the University of Birmingham? Being in such a large yet open community, you can make anything happen – whether it’s engaging with academics, seeking career opportunities, or joining student societies!
Find out more about BA Geography