Career Navigation from NPC20 @ Home

And that's a wrap on NPC20 @ Home. From emerging planners to those who are well-established in their careers, today's Career Zone sessions emphasized the value planners bring to communities.

Keynote: Keeping Current in a Technology-Driven Future

Keith Cook of Esri kicked off the morning defining how planners can use technology to demonstrate their value by going beyond just looking at data to analyzing that data and offering expert recommendations. He emphasized that technology is instrumental in helping planners to access tools to answer questions and justify decisions.

Keith Cooke from @esrigram kicking off the last day of #NPC20atHome Career Zone opening keynote with some wise words for planners. #urbanplanning #cityplanning #GIS #technology #datavisualization #communication

60 Likes, 0 Comments - American Planning Association (@americanplanningassociation) on Instagram: "Keith Cooke from @esrigram kicking off the last day of #NPC20atHome Career Zone opening keynote..."

Health & Well-Being

While planning has always had a strong community health focus, it is gaining national attention with the varying impacts experienced from the pandemic. Panelists in Nature and the Mind in an Era of Pandemic shared how nature provides more than environmental benefits, but also much needed mental health benefits.

Alexa James, National Alliance on Mental Illness, spoke to the metal health aspects COVID-19 has generated and the importance of community in managing well-being. Dr. Kathy Wolf, University of Washington, spoke to planners having the unique skillset to help communities see a broader outlook and understanding of other city systems and how they are interconnected. She shared research demonstrating the importance of nature for mental health and how providing spaces for people to be active can protect and promote human health.

The pandemic has accelerated changes that were already starting to happen said Whit Blanton, FAICP, from Forward Pinellas, in Effectively Managing Virtual Teams. While he remarked stress arises from change, the upside is that experimentation now, may yield improvements to management and work processes in the long run.

Network Power

Your personal career journey offers an opportunity to explore areas of personal interest. Mariia Zimmerman emphasized that you can make an impact wherever you are in your career in the session Choose Your Own Adventure: The Many Sides of Planning. She and Martha Faust shared insights into working in a variety of sectors from public to private and from governmental to nonprofit.

To move fluidly among job sectors, both emphasized building your network, using your network, and communicating your aspirations with your network. Zimmerman spoke to the value of APA Divisions offering individuals the opportunity to network at a greater level.

"APA provides a big network for you to socialize with. It puts you on people's radar," said APA President Kurt Christiansen, FAICP, during Focused Networking: APA Leadership Opportunities.

Volunteering can add value to your career, and opportunities to volunteer are as varied as the organizations' members themselves. The recommendation is to pick and choose the type of involvement you want to have with the organization.


Earning your credential is another avenue into expanding your network and can impact your career according to Justin G. Moore, AICP, in Rigor, Relevance, and the Value of the Letters.

Moore and Paula J. Loomis, AICP, said that earning credentials helps you to gain exposure in the profession; indicates your level of knowledge and expertise; and can provide comfort to employers, colleagues, and customers. Above all, their advice: Remain curious and humble, always continue to grow, and help others by mentoring and giving back to your profession.

Panelists in Using Social Media to Build Your Personal Brand showed how to use online platforms to showcase your expertise, raise your visibility, and enhance your connection within the professional community, amplifying your unique voice.

Top image: Getty Images illustration.

May 6, 2020