MA Cultural Geography
Place of Work: Paul Basham Associates
Position: Transport Planner
What does your current position involve?
I work with a small team of planners and engineers, generally for property developers and their planning applications. We assess and aim to overcome potential travel and transport implications of proposed developments. I also front the company’s growing services in promoting sustainable travel practices to users of new developments once they’re built.
What I like or value most is 1) the exposure to current housing and urban infrastructure design ideas and trends, 2) exposure to the sustainable travel industry and the new ideas for positive and constructive societal change involved in this, and 3) the opportunities, skills and exposure a smaller company brings in developing in areas such as writing, commercial awareness and business development.
How did you come to get that position?
I was offered a job as Graduate Transport Planner 6 months after graduating by my previous employers. In 2009 I decided to take my Geography education further due to a combination of economic slow-down in the industry, my hunger for more of the subject, and a desire to broader horizons further. As I completed my part-time MA, my associate left the company to start a new business. Upon completing the MA, a role in his company was available. I believe my hard work ethic, personable character and other skills and interests also gained through Geography, and my work experience made me an attractive candidate.
How do you think your degree has helped you?
It was tough. Not just the material but balancing and constantly adapting to an arts-based academic environment twice a week and that of a relatively conservative multi-discipline engineering consultancy for the rest of the week. And studying in the spare time left over.
However, I learnt the value of a positive attitude and applying a bit of enthusiasm. The course was very independent at times and required discipline. It gave me a clearer view on the academic career path option. One essay became an industry magazine article whilst my Dissertation allowed me to study other passions in depth. Moving forward, I think it will be invaluable in creating quite a unique set of skills, interests, and characteristics in me that will compliment my belief (also learnt through this course) that you can create your own path and hopefully benefit in today’s dramatically changing world. I also found some new friends.
Do you have any advice for curent students?
Just don’t panic after graduation and do not underestimate yourself and what you can bring. Without wishing to be too cliché, it’s up to you to create your own rules and luck. Don’t judge your route and decisions too much on comparisons with fellow graduates or rely too much on your pre-conceptions of a job before giving it a go. It really is all valuable experience with the right attitude and a career is a marathon not a sprint. So trying a few things out early on isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.