Memoirs of a “successful” planner

Being an alumnus of the “School of Planning and Architecture” I thought life (jobs/masters) would be on a platter, because planning studies are hectic enough, to top that my Delhi university friends have made me feel bad about my “college life” with the amount of “chilling” they’ve done. Also one thing every Indian can identify with “Beta ye karlo uske baad toh chill hi chill”; similarly planning is extremely hectic but the struggle after college is slightly harder, but trust me comes at the cost that you get to work in a field of your interest considering planning is a multidisciplinary course. So, I started working with Jones Lang LaSalle to satiate my interest in finance and then shifted to environment, with no relation between the two, whatsoever.

Looking Back - Urban Planner

Planning kya hota hai

The long stride into environment was without a speck of a doubt. Work anywhere, any organization is going to be a pain at times, with a lot of struggles and multiple comparisons with “engineers” who think they can do a better planning, because “planning hota hi kya hai?”, but my dear friend don’t get deterred by such perspectives and remember the multidisciplinary course structure that you come from is iceberg on which the Titanic catastrophe happened, but the world would choose to look at only the tip of the iceberg. Each planner is armed with skills and knowledge, which we often overlook because we don’t come from a profession our society propagated, we’re neither the doctor nor the engineer, nor are we lawyers who relate to the phrase “ye karlo, iske baad bada scope hai”.

I’ve kept my head high when someone asks me what I do, I tell them “I am a planner”, they’re like what, and then they ask me my college, after which their small minds tell them “ Acha architect”, and I reiterate- “ No. Planner, I just have way more responsibility than just designing a fancy house or selecting the upholstery”. To all my fellow planning student who keep on double questioning themselves whether doing “Planning was the right thing”, “whether they would get a job”. STOP! There’s a reason you’re here, there are issues and problems which you can solve for the world without even being slightly privy to the power you hold. Also, there are only a handful who wanted to be planners, everyone wanted to be an “architect”, however, unfortunately, landed in planning for bachelors; trust me the number of architects from “SPA” I have seen doing planning is astonishing!

Related: Planners as Knowledge Workers, Introspection of an Urban Planner

Professional afflictions and planning

Planning studies bring us to a juncture where we start believing that the association of “planner” as a professional accreditation is what one would have right after college, completely unaware of the existing nuances. However, coming to the hindsight of it, the positions is usually “executive”, “analyst”, “consultant” with a rarity of planner being used for an individual citation. In my experience the planning field is expansive beyond words could articulate, and all due regards to the subjects that we study. Ever thought sociology which we study in college could actually be a starting point of the interview in a multinational developmental organization!?

Masters of no masters

It’s been more than 3.5 years, I haven’t pursued my masters, this was a decision I took in college, not because I need to feed anyone at home so I need to work, but professional exposure teaches one thing which no masters/PhD would ever touch. Professional exposure gives CLARITY, into what is ones strength, what is the need of masters and if masters which masters, because lets come in terms with the fact- “masters naukri ke liye chahiye”. However with me, I was clear on what field I wanted to specialize in since college and I wanted to validate the same to myself, however, I’ve met many of my college mates who have done masters for the sake of it. It’s NOT a decision one should take in a haste or use it to escape what might happen if no masters. Take your time and figure out, don’t fall under peer pressure and do something and be proud of what you do, because that’s what a lesser known field as “Planning” gives us.

Signing off!

All the best

Amrita Bhatnagar

Related: Urban Planning – A largely Unknown Profession

Author Bio: Amrita did her bachelor degree in Planning from School of Planning & Architecture, Vijayawada. During her studies many of her papers were published at various platforms. Economics & Urban Planning adds to her list of interest, she is an avid writer. During her college days she served at NOSPlan as Chief Editor & one of the founding member of Editorial Board at NOSPlan later she worked at Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) & is currently associated with Center for Science & Environment (CSE).