The following Timeline has been prepared based on “my” experience during the Bachelor of Planning tenure in School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. The concepts and ideas may differ from people’s interest, pace, opinion, and approach. It may not guarantee a good GPA, but it will definitely contribute towards building an outstanding portfolio and prepare budding planners for the competitive market after graduation. It is not necessary to follow the same as mentioned in the timeline, changes can be made as per person’s interest and opinion. I’ve tried to condense my knowledge, experience and most importantly mistakes committed during the course.
Understanding the gap in the existing curriculum
Bachelor of Planning is a 4 year course that very well inculcates an amalgamation of social science and software skills into students by its manifold course curriculum. The course is still in its developing phase regarding expansion and familiarity (compared to Architecture and Civil engineering) in the country. There is an ever increasing demand in market for professional planners (AMRUT, Development Authorities, Consultancies, CSR, Education sector to name a few) with all round development and with good software knowledge. The course curriculum mentions subjects and studio projects over the Bachelor of Planning course, along with the requirement to stay updated with market needs and instil required skills accordingly.
Taking into account the demand of market and high initial investment needed for pursuing the course, a timeline has been prepared that provides an insight on how to make the most of college tenure. A lot of time, money and toil is invested in studio projects and learning new software, which could be utilized in various competitions, events, forums and engagement in projects that not only adds to portfolio but also helps in building new contacts, along with additional benefits of monetization.
Understanding the time-line
The timeline has been majorly divided into two parts:
Figure 1 Proposed ‘Preferable’ Timeline
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Phase I: First semester to Second Summer vacation (Sharpening the axe phase)
This tenure can be utilized for acquiring skills and understanding of course by developing familiarity, wherein majority of time should be invested in exploring the field and prospects surrounding it. The time can be utilized for learning primary software like AutoCAD, PowerPoint, GIS, and gaining extra credits by attending MOOCs and various certificate courses available on online platforms like NPTEL, Coursera, Skillshare, and YouTube. Also, time should be invested in familiarising oneself with the college, faculty, seniors etc, by interactions and attending informal events of NOSPlan, inter college sports, etc.
The time is for experimentation, exploring choices. Explore the alumni base of college and social media handles like LinkedIn profiles of seniors, inquiring about course, career prospects and gen life. Four weeks in summer vacation can be utilized for internship in any organisation (preferably NGO or in College with Professors) for first-hand work experience. Also, try forming a group/team of students with same work ethics who resonate along (same or diverse course), for participation in events later.
Phase 2: Fifth to Eighth Semester (Chopping of the tree)
This is the execution phase, wherein it is time to monetize and market yourself. Start developing content for your portfolio, by entering into the web of contacts and making a name of yourself in the market. Participate in competitions, formal events, conferences and forums. Identify the sector (Transportation, Housing, and Finance, etc. or even outside Physical planning like movie making, photography, content writing, music, anything) that interests you.
During my college tenure I visited events like World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, Happy cities Summit in Amaravati, International Conference on Reimaging Geddes in Indore and, Documentary Project in Nepal, that provided a great insight regarding prospects in the field of Planning, knowledge of various online data centres like Place Database (US GIS based Mapping) and most important – some valuable contacts from Planning fraternity across the globe. There are online platforms like Ethos India (founded by SPA Delhi alumni), ISOCARP, UN Habitat, INHAF, etc. for notification of competitions, events and forums all over the Globe for Planners.
A thorough studio project with reasonable analysis can be utilised for competitions later. For example, my naïve proposal for Solid Waste Management in Zonal Plan semester was developed into a full-fledged project with my colleagues Yuvraj Sunger and Protim Shankar that paved our way to Abu Dhabi for World Urban Forum 2020, emerging as merit awardees of Local Project Challenge.
There’s a gradient representation of software learning tenure in the timeline wherein primary software are necessity and based on course curriculum. The starting point is beginning to understand the concept and endpoint is not necessarily mastery over the software, but reach an intermediate level. Secondary software may not be a necessity, but learning of advanced software like Pro GIS, Stata, SPSS, Apache hadhoop, handling big data etc. will be of use, not only for studios, but also for market.
There’s always criticism of encroachment by other professions over opportunity of Planners and not so hectic studio schedules (as compared to Architecture and Civil Engineering). There is a need to strive continuously to push the benchmark of studio projects and go beyond understanding of basic software like MS Word, MS Excel, PowerPoint, and AutoCAD for analysis and presentation. It is high time we realise that the need of the market is way above our studio benchmarks and prepare ourselves accordingly.
Planning as a course teaches you about a process to explore, analyse, identify, propose and finally implement and monitor, that has universal applicability. With coming to higher semesters, monetization of work can be helpful for becoming financially independent. There’s mention of certain online sites in the second half of timeline like Shutterstock, Pixabay, Creativepool, Patreon, etc. which could be used to monetize ones art creations, photographs and videography (I’ve mentioned these as they’re my interest areas). We have examples of students practicing and pursuing modelling, movie making, sports, art, etc. along with the course.
Starting from our 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, college, job, and promotion, we’re always on our toes hustling to get the next best. There’s no break in between to sit back and ‘INTROSPECT’ on what it is actually that interests us. Fields like Architecture and Planning require good amount of patience, extensive exploration and compromise for a low pay in initial years. But with fine exploration, marketing of skillset and an outstanding portfolio, it will definitely embrace new opportunities. The alumni base of Physical Planning department of School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi consist of Entrepreneurs, movie makers, UX designers, pilots, defence personnel, coast guardians, game developers, and obviously Planners.
Most important of all “DO NOT SKIP/COMPARE/RAT RACE”. Each one is unique in their own terms. My luxury maybe someone else’s necessity.
Following are my social media handles and contact number for any kind of assistance regarding the timeline. I hope future budding planners make the most out of it.
(4th Year, B.Plan from School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi Placed in HCL Foundation)
For further reading and getting more information about Urban Planning you can read the following articles (all articles open in new tab/ window):
- Urban Planning Job Description
- Why political agendas never actually solve your problems whereas planners can!
- Planning process without planners
- Loss to community because of incompetent planners
- Planners as knowledge workers
- Understanding the limitations of planning
- Urban Planning – Largely Unknown Profession
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