The transition from studying at university to working as a Planner is exciting, competitive and daunting. I studied a Masters in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield and graduated in July 2015. Throughout my time at university I used NLP publications to help support my work. I was impressed by NLP’s strength and knowledge within the market and the variety of work the Company undertook.
When applying for a graduate position I was enthusiastic about working in the London office, the city that is at the forefront of business and development, where regeneration is occurring at a fast pace, where the supply of land is limited and where planning is facilitating innovative solutions to the way we live and work.
The graduate application process at NLP was competitive, with the initial stage consisting of an interview, and maths and English tests. I was overwhelmed by the friendliness at the interview. NLP was interested in learning about me, my achievements to date and where I see myself in the future, in terms of a career in planning and my personal goals.
I have been working in one of NLP’s Retail Teams since September 2015. The team works with large, national clients and as a result I have gained experience in a wide range of schemes. To date I have used a variety of planning disciplines including:
Detailed policy research and analysis;
Submitting planning applications and liaising with case officers;
Attending client meetings;
Reviewing legal agreements relating to the planning history for sites, to determine their lawful use;
Providing clarity to clients with regard to the prospect of development and advising on any liability for the community infrastructure levy;
Contributing to new pieces of property research; and
Plan monitoring for clients.
Planning is a process of problem solving. It is about understanding policy and legal constraints, and assessing opportunities for the development of land. There is a great sense of achievement when providing clients with advice on the feasible development opportunities for their assets. Since starting, I have been exposed to the politics of planning and a network of information and people that will help develop my career.
The Graduate Programme has exceeded my expectations. I work within a large office, and at the same time have settled well in a smaller team. Working for a planning consultancy also means that there’s a huge array of expertise and experience to draw on, in a wide variety of planning specialities.
Within the first month, all new graduates are invited to a day of team building; activities highlight the opportunities that arise from working at NLP and the importance of ‘One Company’. NLP has a fantastic buddy system that provides a great support network when learning about the company’s work expectations and quality management procedures. NLP differs from its competitors as there is an in-house planning policy team. Therefore each employee benefits from daily updates including planning news and reforms, alongside breakfast and lunchtime seminars that give us an insight intonew planning legislation and emerging policy. Seminars are also a great opportunity for employees to discuss opinions and share ideas.
NLP values the promotion of an enjoyable working environment and as a result there is an active social calendar. Since starting in September there have been opportunities to meet other employees in the London office and other regional offices at the summer BBQ, Octoberfest Social, Christmas Party, and team meals.
NLP supports the APC process and benefits from having a Planning Director who is an APC assessor. Each graduate is encouraged to begin their professional accreditation upon starting, to help further career opportunities. The RTPI has a strong presence in London and I have attended evening events, quizzes and seminars. This is a great way to meet other graduate planners and in the future may lead to the acquisition of additional clients for NLP..
Working in London for a high-achieving consultancy has already taught me an array of lessons. My ‘top tips’ for starting work within the planning and development industry are:
Keep in touch with your university peers. Planning is a highly connected industry and you are likely to work alongside people you know;
Be proactive and get involved in social and educational events;
Continue to read and learn about planning issues and developments that are happening around you. The towns and cities we live in are continually changing. The work planners do on a daily basis changes the way people go about their day to day lives; and
Enjoy your work.
Accepting my graduate position here was the best decision for me and my career. If you would like to apply for a position in one of the NLP offices use this link to find out more about the process. The graduate application process is open until 26 January 2015.