Emily Blumenthal

BAUP 2013

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

After graduating, I worked for Kretchmer Associates, a consulting firm that primarily does market analysis for planning and development projects.  I was able to build upon the research and data analysis skills I developed at Illinois.  My understanding of the planning process and housing issues was really helpful as I learned more about real estate development. 

I also had the opportunity to work for the White House in the Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Urban Affairs and Economic Mobility where I helped work on policy initiatives primarily around housing and economic mobility issues.  DURP helped prepare me for that work both in terms of the subject matter and the skills I needed to succeed there. From writing memos to doing research, I used the principles I learned in my planning classes to guide me. And my understanding of the nuts and bolts of housing and economic development issues enabled me to dive into policy processes around these issues with greater ease. 

I now work as a research aide at the Brookings Institution in their Metropolitan Policy Program, where I am able to apply the writing and research skills I developed at Illinois. 

Why did you choose to study urban planning?

I am passionate about cities, the people in them, and the issues with which they are confronted.  The challenges facing urban communities are complex and require multidimensional solutions.  Planning enabled me to explore the physical, sociological and economic factors that contribute the form, function and quality of urban life.  I was drawn to planning because it is both a challenging and rewarding field.  I wanted to pursue a career through which I could strengthen communities and expand opportunity for the people in them, and planning has given me the foundation to do that. 

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

One of the great things about planning is that people with a variety of interests and skill sets can find a good fit within this field.   Whether you are a people person or more of data-analysis kind of person, whether you are interested in the sustainable design or economic development– planning is really a diverse field in and of itself.  What’s more, it’s an important field; cities around the world are seeking solutions to complex problems with more constrained resources.  We need sharp, dedicated minds developing solutions to the issues that people face on a daily basis in our communities. 

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