Use your time at school to help tackle the post-graduate job search.
by Marielle Hawkes, February 2016
After completing the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program earlier this year, Dilys Huang feels fortunate to have been able to transition seamlessly into the working world. Currently a Senior Planner for the Town of Osoyoos in BC, she is excited to be involved in a range of planning activities, such as reviewing development applications and updating policies and bylaws.
While focusing on land use and real estate development as well as health and social planning, the program at Queen’s allowed Dilys to develop skills necessary in the work force. These include working in teams, and communicating, presenting and analyzing information, in addition to theoretical knowledge. “The program at Queen’s is well-rounded; there is a balance between learning foundational skills and hands-on skills.” In their second year, students participate in a project-based course in which teams work with an actual client to come up with a proposal and present recommendations. Dilys and her group worked with the National Capital Commission to prepare a Waterfront Linear Park Plan (pdf, 1009 kB).
In addition to her classes, Dilys participated in various extracurricular activities, such as with the Queen’s Graduate Association of Planning Students. She also presented her Master’s Report “Condos, lettuce, and tomatoes: Factors influencing the provision of food production spaces in new multi-unit residential developments in Toronto and Vancouver,” which was supervised by Dr. Leela Viswanathan, at the Three Minute Thesis Competition. This challenged her to communicate the important points of her research in a clear and concise manner, a skill that has benefited her in the workplace.
When asked what advice she might have for students, Dilys had a couple of suggestions. First, specific to the Master of Urban and Regional Planning students, take the time to explore the different concentrations that the program offers. The program at Queen’s allows students to focus on what they are interested in. Because the field of planning is very broad, this helps later on to know what areas you might want to (or not) work in.
The Master’s Report is another way to explore an area of planning in a more in-depth way. While it is a more extensive piece of writing, Dilys said you get a lot out of the project. While doing her research, she conducted key informant interviews with developers and municipal planners, which were useful for not only getting a better understanding of ways to enhance urban agriculture amenities in condominium projects, but also building her professional network.
Second, make good use of the time between school years. For instance, if your program has an internship, it is worthwhile to take advantage of the opportunity. Internships allow students to apply what they learn in school as well as gain valuable real world experience. There are many lessons that you learn in the work field besides those that you acquire from your studies. They also provide the opportunity to develop and build connections with other people.