On Wednesday February 10, Kalamazoo College senior and Public Policy Departmental Student Advisor Reynaldo Hernandez K’16 organized a panel of interested students to meet with K alumni who have gone into the profession of Urban Planning. With the help of the Center for Career and Professional Development, Hernandez was able to bring in Justin Dula K’99, Andrea Augustine K’00, and Erin Thorsen K’02 who gave the panel of students a feel for how K prepared them to enter a career in Urban Planning.
Dula, Manager of Community and Regional Planning at Delaware County in Philadelphia, spoke on the importance of internships, calling it “a great way to turn that [position] into a job.”
Thorsen, currently the Transportation planner in Atlanta for Gresham, Smith and Partners, shared that “even without experience, if you can show that you’re really passionate” you can land a job.
Augustine, previously the City Planner for Kalamazoo and currently the Real Estate Manager for Adams Outdoor Advertising in Southwest Michigan, shared the same viewpoint, highlighting the importance of forming connections through networking. She additionally shared the value of determination in Urban Planning, “you can go here and you might be blocked but there’s 50,000 other ways to get there, you just have to have the tenacity”. To quote Augustine on her catchphrase, “there’s always a way to get to yes.”
“You carry some experience and qualification [that makes you an individual],” Augustine said. “[During an interview] share some ideas that [you] could bring to the table, to your company that will make it better or different.”
“A huge part of [Urban Planning involves] conflict resolution and to be able to see all sides and try to find ways for other people to see those sides too,” Dula commented. “The liberal arts view of K helps with Urban Planning in that you have to work interdisciplinary with people…[it gives you] negotiating skills and the ability to think critically.”
Grady Schneider K‘16 offered his opinion of the panel, “whether you’re a freshman here or a senior here, it really aligns what you might want to do.”
Joan Hawxhurst of the CCPD encourages other DSAs to take the initiative to organize similar events for their departments.