News  |  Posted March 24, 2022

From planning student to planning professional – volunteering with PAS

This week’s blog post is by Ivan Brown, a PAS volunteer, reflecting on his involvement in the recent Live Life Morvern project.

As a graduate in spatial planning and urban design, who loves to sketch and travel, volunteering at PAS has offered a brilliant opportunity to contribute my skills, gain new experiences and make the all-important transition from planning student to planning professional.

My PAS journey started back in December 2021 when I joined a team of PAS staff and volunteers supporting the community in Morvern on the west coast of Scotland to develop a shared Vision and Action Plan for the next decade (Live Life Morvern).

My initial roles included scribe and artist for community workshops to capture discussions as they worked through their visioning process. As the project progressed, I was given responsibility for generating sketches to represent four themed future scenarios imagined by the community. I also made a graphic to encompass the ideas for Morvern as a whole.  It was exciting to see these being used to share feedback and stimulate further discussion in the next phase of the project.

Life Live Morvern Presentation Board featuring one of Ivan’s illustrations:

My involvement took on a new level in February 2022, when I was invited to accompany the Project Manager Paul Ede on a trip to Morvern to spend some time with the community. Over three days, with the help of a local representative, we engaged with people in one-on-one meetings and group discussions to reach out to those who hadn’t attended earlier meetings. Then we carried out in-depth analysis, focusing on information gathered from previous engagements. Having only lived in Scotland for 14 months and most of that during COVID, it was a special opportunity to discover a new part of the country and to get to know an active and engaged rural community.

As someone transitioning from a master’s programme into the working world, the opportunity to volunteer with PAS has been invaluable for gaining hands-on experience and working alongside practising professionals. This came to the fore in recent job interviews, giving me a unique set of experiences to draw on. In my last interview I gave a presentation describing what I did in the planning field while volunteering with PAS and was prepared for questions regarding the local planning context. This led to them accepting me for a position. My PAS role perhaps gave me an advantage over other student applicants.

I recommend that anyone, not just students, volunteer at PAS if they can. Volunteering was a positive and rewarding experience that prepared me to be a better planner and give back to Scotland.

Find out more about becoming a PAS volunteer or contact our Volunteer and Youth Programmes Manager Fleur Dijkman for a friendly chat about which opportunities could suit you: