Erin Cigliano, AICP

BAUP 2006

What is your current job and how did your planning degree prepare you for it?

I am a Senior Associate and Engagement Specialist at Teska Associates, Inc., a private consulting firm with offices in Evanston and Plainfield, Illinois. Our creative team is made up of about 20 folks specializing in all sectors of urban planning, economic development, site design landscape architecture, and last but not least (my bread and butter) – creative engagement. My role at Teska is to celebrate the voice of our project communities by inspiring idea sharing via collaborative tools, engaging graphic design and interactive outreach events. A major part of this role is public speaking and writing. How did I end up at Teska? After cold-calling nearly every firm in the back of Planning Magazine, I was lucky to secure a summer internship at Teska in 2005, following my Junior year of college. After graduating in 2006, I was hired as an associate and have been with Teska ever since. When friends ask how it is that I’ve been with one firm for so long, the answer is simple: the breadth and variety of projects I work on as well as the family-style environment at Teska makes every day a different and fun adventure. Receiving my planning degree from the University of Illinois exposed me to so many areas of the field – urban design, historic preservation, public policy, GIS, environmental design, placemaking. This exposure allowed me to develop a variety of skills and ultimately determine what parts of planning I enjoyed most. I knew early on that people-centric projects, creative design and outreach were what I liked most.

Why did you choose to study urban planning?

As an 18-year old “yoot” I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be, but I knew certain things/experiences I liked; the cross-section of these “likes” was Urban Planning. I liked historic places and preservation and was always fascinated by places that bring people together. Whether it be a plaza, street café, summer event, or the quad… when you step-foot in a place and are instantly happier simply because of WHERE you are, that to me was cool. I wanted to be a part of making more of that “cool” happen

What advice would you share with someone who is considering a career in urban planning?

Urban Planning is the science of people and place. Without one the other wouldn’t exist, so start by asking yourself if the relationship of those two components interests you. From there, expose yourself to as much “urban planning” early-on to strengthen what it is that you like (and dislike). All these preferences are insights into what field of planning you might enjoy most. Reach out to varying firms and municipalities, ask to grab coffee with an associate; many firms do short info-sessions and tours with students. Bottom line: Ask questions, make connections and step outside your comfort zone. The greatest growth happens when you switch things up.

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