Juliana Wilhoit

MUP 2015

What is your current job and how did your planning degree prepare you for it?

I'm a Community Planner with the Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering Research Development Center - Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. As a researcher I work on providing data to help the Army plan -- from the location of contingency bases based on environmental and socio-economic factors to what US bases to expand based on climate change and water. My planning degree prepared me in three ways for this job. First, I started working in the lab as a research assistant while pursuing my MUP, I got the position because of DURPs network.   Secondly, my planning degree taught me about working in teams and collaboration.  Most of the work that we do involves some team aspect, and I learned valuable skills in the planning program from how to think about a project to developing a project timeline.  Third, my planning degree provided me with some very specific skills that I use every day.  I took two modeling courses and I rely daily on the software and theoretical knowledge that I gained through those classes.

Why did you choose to study urban planning?

I enrolled in planning school because I wanted to have the knowledge of urban processes and to develop analysis skills to quantify those problems in hope of changing urban policies.  Grad school changed that slightly. I realized how much the region mattered to the local circumstances and I've shifted my focus to regional planning.   

What advice would you share with someone who is considering a career in urban planning?

Urban planning is a valuable and necessary profession. But it is a profession that is not always understood outside of planning circles. Understand what urban planning as a degree is and where is can and cannot take you. It is a degree that you can mold and shape. A degree in planning will open many doors, but not every door. As you consider if further education is useful to you jump starting a career in planning, look at job postings that interest you and see what skills are required. Then figure out how you will gain those skills. A MUP may be the answer. It may not be.

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