Professional Development

Advisors and faculty help students transform the knowledge and skills gained through a rigorous program of advanced professional training into success in a competitive employment market. Here are a few of the ways this is done:

Professional Development Lecture Series and Workshops

Each semester DPLA faculty members coordinate a Faculty Lecture Series, which is a brownbag forum to foster cross-campus research and collaboration. The lectures are open to the public and students have the opportunity to learn how distinguished faculty from all over the world are studying and addressing contemporary planning issues. 

In addition, URPL offers students a series of workshops that cover essential skills to be successful in graduate school and in their careers. Topics may include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), professional networking, presentations skills, résumé writing and interviewing tips.

Alumni Connections

Students have the opportunity to meet and work with URPL alumni, many of whom hold important positions in international organizations; federal, state, and local government agencies; private business; and nonprofit and community development organizations. Our alumni are an invaluable resource for students in their career development. One way students and alumni connect is through local planning conferences such as the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association’s annual spring conference. For many students, a huge task is gaining an understanding of the possibilities to guide their job-search process. Many URPL alumni share with students with information about their jobs and workplaces, participate in professional development functions that highlight their knowledge and experience, and provide informational interviews for students. Students interested in contacting alumni should get in touch with the Alumni Relations Council or WSPA.


URPL strongly believes that hands-on professional work experience is an invaluable learning experience for students and requires an internship with a planning-related organization. The internship is normally for 10 weeks of full-time work (400 hours) and no formal course credit is given. The objectives of internships are:

1) To give the student a sense of the operation of planning-related organizations, including:

  • The organization’s relationship with the community and other organizations;
  • Alternative styles of management;
  • Planning approaches and methods used; and
  • Effective strategies for influencing public debate and policy.

2) To give students one (or more) experience(s) in analyzing and preparing recommendations on planning problems and issues within the constraints imposed by working for a government, private, or nonprofit planning or planning-related agency.

See a sample list of previous URPL student internships here.