In 2017/18 Laura came to Adams Hendry on a Student Placement year from Newcastle University. After the placement year ended, she stayed on as an Assistant Planner and is currently working part-time whilst completing a Masters in Environmental Assessment and Management at Oxford Brookes University. Upon completion of her Masters in September 2019, Laura aims to become a Chartered Town Planner. We interviewed Laura for feedback on our student placement role.
To what extent did you enjoy your work placement?
I thoroughly enjoyed my Student Placement year at Adams Hendry. The projects I got involved with were very diverse and intriguing which meant I was always busy with different types of tasks. I was treated as one the team, with my views and opinions being acknowledged. I was also lucky enough to be able to go on a range of site visits such as sites for residential developments, a sewage treatment works and a salad farm. Each site visit developed my knowledge and understanding for future work projects. I also attended a committee meeting and four planning appeals over the course of the year.
To what extent did the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
Professionally, everything I learnt during my placement year has helped me in projects I now work on and in my studies at Oxford Brookes. Overall, there is definitely an improvement in my writing and time management skills.
Personally, Adams Hendry has helped my confidence develop in leaps and bounds. I took up a lot of opportunities which Adams Hendry supported and continue to support. With the support, I have been able to voice my views and suggestions a lot more in meetings and become Chair of the South Coast Young Planners Network.
How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
As the year progressed, I was given more and more responsibility. One of my main projects was assisting a Principal Planner with planning appeals on behalf of a Local Authority. By the end of the year I was writing proofs of evidence, statements of case, conditions, speaking with the client and attending regular meetings. Alongside work, I have had input into developing Adams Hendry’s social media communication and regularly post on the Twitter and LinkedIn accounts as well as coming up with new ideas for the website.
To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
The support I received, was one of the best things of my Student Placement. Adams Hendry already has a mentoring scheme in place for staff, but I found this very useful when first starting out as an initial point of contact to help with anything I needed. However, everyone at Adams Hendry is very approachable from Directors to Planners, so it is very easy to get to know everyone.
Were there many opportunities to get involved with activities outside of work?
Yes, there are many opportunities in which Adams Hendry will support, it is up to you to get involved.
Adams Hendry have supported me immensely in my role on the South Coast Young Planners Committee and as an ambassador for IEMA Futures. Whether that be sponsoring and presenting at events or giving me the time to attend events and meetings. I am also a Girl Guide leader and last May we took part in ‘The Big Sleep Out’ which Adams Hendry also supported.
In terms of staff events, there is an annual Christmas and Summer social in which staff can suggest ideas on what they would like to do, as well as other evenings out. For the last Summer social, in July 2018, I given the opportunity to organise it. This was a great way to develop skills that I wouldn’t have necessarily gained from completing tasks in work.
What tips would you give anyone looking for or starting out on a placement?
I would advise getting to know the different levels of planning policy, such as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), to becoming familiar with finding Local Plans on a different Councils website. Also, having prior knowledge of legislation such as the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017, can be useful.
Coming from university, it is definitely best to separate the two worlds. Your writing style will change, and you will naturally become quicker at picking out relevant parts of large documents.
And finally, don’t be afraid to get involved and try things which are out of your comfort zone. Nerves are normal but by showing enthusiasm and eagerness to get involved with things inside and outside of work, the placement year will fly by and you will pick up skills without realising – which is a bonus!