Graduate story: Megan Yates

Megan Yates

Megan Yates
Trainee Development Planner, Richmond Valley Council
Currently studying a Bachelor of Regional and Urban Planning (Honours)

Megan has been employed as a Trainee Development Planner through the Youth Employment Strategy (YES) program at Richmond Valley Council, which included a scholarship to study at SCU.

At work I'm doing admin for the planners and building inspectors. I get to see all the development applications (DAs) that come through Council across residential, commercial and industrial, so I get an understanding of everything that happens with the DAs and the legislation and the legislation and policies that relate to them.

"I run and take minutes for Council's pre-lodgement meetings where developers and the public who have a proposal consult with Council before they lodge their DA. It gives them a chance to discuss the proposal and any possible constraints that may hinder the DA process. I run an internal assessment process called DAP (Development Assessment Panel) which involves Council's planning, engineering and environmental health staff. DAP considers all planning DAs that are being approved, any new applications, and Section 96 modifications. I look forward to taking on more responsibility as I go through my degree.

"Council's planning and development assessment staff are great to work with. They are so supportive and want to see me do well. They're constantly giving up their time to explain processes and concepts and are always willing to help me with both work and uni-related topics.

"Once I finish my degree, if I wasn't still working at Council, I think it would be interesting to go into private consulting. This would allow me to see the process of putting development applications together and the work that goes into it.

"Doing the degree has been extremely beneficial to my job. The planning units, like Rural and Regional Planning, and Sustainability and Ethics for Planners, give me a better understanding of what I'm doing at work. A lot of the terminology covered in the units I hear on a day-to-day basis at work so it's really easy to understand. It's definitely an advantage to be already working in the industry.

"The lecturers have lots of experience in the industry and some of them work as local planners. This provides a balance of planning knowledge as each lecturer brings a different aspect of planning such as rural, regional and metropolitan issues.

"I was really nervous at the start of the year about starting university. I didn't know anyone but now I've made some friends and I really enjoy it. It has been a good experience so far and it's put me out of my comfort zone which has made me more independent and confident."