What is your current job and how did your planning degree prepare you for it?
I am a Planner for the Wantman Group (WGI), a multidisciplinary consulting firm based in South Florida. As a planner in the Land Design Services division at WGI, I provide support on a variety of planning projects ranging from land entitlement and site planning, to GIS and research-oriented deliverables for both public and private clients. Prior to joining WGI, I served as Planner for the Palm Beach County (PBC) Parks and Recreation Department. In this role, I provided technical support in GIS, graphic design, data analysis, and report writing. I also served as liaison on several county-wide committees such as the PBC Bicycle-Trailways-Pedestrian Advisory Committee, PBC Planning Congress, PBC GIS Forum, and the Countywide Community Revitalization Team through the Office of Community Revitalization.
The MUP program afforded me the space to explore and the necessary skill set to be able to function and flourish in planning practice. I specifically appreciate the departments’ commitment to providing students a variety of opportunities to get involved in planning-related projects outside of the university, which encouraged me to push the envelope on how best to approach issues facing communities.
Why did you choose to study urban planning?
I chose to study urban planning because I wanted to be directly involved in the growth and development of the communities that surrounded me. Growing up in South Florida, I was exposed to a variety of planning issues pertaining to sprawl, environmental conservation, sea level rise, the lack of affordable housing, sanctuary cities, and vehicle dependency. An issue ridden context as such led me to setting aside my initial aspirations of becoming an architect and instead focus my undergraduate and graduate studies on better understanding planning issues and how to apply the most appropriate solutions to those issues.
What advice would you share with someone who is considering a career in urban planning?
Being such a broad field, you can truly tailor your urban planning coursework to support any of your interests, whether they align themselves with the theoretical or practical aspects of this field. As such, you should set clear goals pertaining to the skill set you want to acquire and further, quickly identify in what capacity you see yourself applying these skills. Explore with purpose, learn with purpose, and engage with purpose.