Work experience: developing locally

(courtesy of

October’s Feature asked students to tell Aber Student Media about any advice, work experience, years in employment and years abroad they may have had as part of their course.

Employability is of course one of the main reasons we are all at university. We’ve all read the leaflets, heard the talks from the Careers office and possibly looked up options on line, but we thought it best to let you hear from people who’ve been there and done it.   

I AM A THIRD year Geography student and over the summer I spent two weeks working as a member of the Local Development Planning team, in my local authority of Rhondda Cynon Taf.  I worked with the team who make planning policies for the local area and for the planning department. Don’t worry, it really isn’t as complicated as it sounds!

A Local Development Plan is supposed to effectively make the decisions on how land in a certain area is used. It makes policies which state whether a house can be built in a certain place, whether a housing estate can be developed in a particular patch of land, or even, whether a big empty factory can be changed and used as, for example, an indoor football pitch. The Development Planning team that I worked on adopted their local plan in 2011 and will use it up until 2021, when another more up-to-date plan will hopefully be used.

On my placement, I worked with members of the team while they discussed and made decisions about projects in the local area. I got to visit some of the sites where applications for developments had been made. Sometimes though, it was hard to see how 60 houses would fit on such a small patch of land! I learnt a lot about my local area and found out about the major projects and regeneration schemes that are on the cards over the next few years.

I was lucky too because the placement could link in to my degree. Two weeks work and a few essays later, I gain 20 credits! It may not seem like much, but it means one less exam. I know that you’re used to all the jargon about ‘personal development’ and ‘experience’ but the placement was also really fun! Yes, I did gain skills and knowledge and experience, but I also made contacts in the field and learnt about how my local area is going to develop in the next few years.