An insight into a planning work experience placement at Smith & Love

Earlier this month, Thomas Schofield – a first year student from Edge Hill University, completed a one week work experience placement with Smith & Love.

Thomas is studying Human Geography and hopes to achieve an accredited Town Planning Master’s Degree.

We asked him about his placement and how it supported his career aspirations.

What attracted you to a career in planning?

My initial interest was in the organisational side of planning. I always like to plan my university assignments out into manageable sections as I enjoy the process and the feeling of being confident in the presentation or work that you are about to complete. The saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” has stuck with me throughout college and university and I think it’s highly relevant for a Planning Consultant.

I’m also attracted by the opportunity to work with other people and the variety of the role. I like the balance of working in a team and an office environment yet going out to meet clients and look at projects on regular basis.

What have you done on the placement?

Debbie at Smith & Love created a personal work plan for me so I’ve been busy working though that. I’ve attended client and project meetings, done site visits, met with ecologists to be prepared on some of the latest planning policies. A particular highlight was gathering feedback from a council on a planning matter and summarising the key points to relay them back to a housing developer. Being responsible for gathering that feedback and contributing to the report back to the client was a great experience and confidence boost.

What has been your favourite part?

It’s difficult to pick out a favourite part when you’ve had such a great overall experience but I did really enjoy the site visits. It was really interesting to see the kind of challenges a Planner has to deal with. It showed me the different skills you need, from working and compromising with members of the project team, to critical thinking and problem solving.

What did you hope to get from the placement?

Everything I hoped for I got. I’ve had an insight into the world of planning and received first hand advice on how to communicate effectively with clients. I’ve been given responsibility and was able to complete some independent work, which was highly praised. That was great for me, personally, and it was reassuring to hear that I was capable and proficient in the work.

I got a feel for what it’s like to work in an amazing office environment and a massive bonus is the links I’ve made with Smith & Love who have invited me back to do additional work whilst I’m at Edge Hill.

It has genuinely been an amazing opportunity. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with and learn from – everyone was very professional and down to earth.