Getting experience in planning
Any relevant work experience is useful as it will give you the opportunity to see practical planning at work, demonstrate your ability to conduct yourself in a professional manner in the workplace and ensure that you make an informed choice on which jobs to apply for once you have finished your degree.
There are different lengths of experience that you could consider;
- paid internships during your holidays - normally on a full time basis for 2 or more weeks.
- ask to shadow a planner at work - this could be 1 day spent accompanying them in the course of their work to see what a planner does. This would be unpaid.
- unpaid short work experience during the term-time - for example as part of a module which requires a minimum number of hours accrued. This could also be part time work experience - for example 1 day per week either during term time or in the holiday period.
- you could get experience by volunteering. There are planning advice charities such as Planning Aid England who work with communities on projects. You can register as a volunteer here.
- paid year out work placement - this is something to consider if your course offers a 'sandwich year' option. This is a year in industry where you would be working full time in a paid role and it can count towards the experience required to become a Chartered Town Planner.
What should you expect to do on a work placement
Undertaking a work placement should give you the opportunity to gain some practical experience - not just photocopying or data entry! A well structured work placement often includes agreeing a set of tasks or activities that you would be doing. You would expect to meet planners and gain some important skills such as office etiquette, communication and administrative skills. You may have the opportunity to accompany planners on site visits or work on a specific project or task if you have a longer placement. If you are undertaking a sandwich year you would have a job description of your roles and responsibilities.