A career in planning can be exciting, challenging, and rewarding all at the same time! Working in an environment that is constantly evolving, planners need to be adaptable and agile. This is where you come in!

Graduates or emerging professionals bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the profession and are an invaluable asset to the industry.

To ensure your career in planning starts as smoothly as possible, the NZPI and the Emerging Planners Group will provide ongoing and up-to-date support for graduates and those within the first five years of their career.

There are many career opportunities for planners both in the public sector, private or not for profit sector, reflecting the diverse nature of the profession.

As a planner your work may involve the following:

  • Non-statutory area planning
  • Infrastructure development
  • Central and local government policy advice
  • Structure planning for growth areas
  • Preparation and processing of resource consent applications
  • Plan changes, these can be either private, or council initiated
  • Urban design and development
  • Engagement with iwi, key stakeholders and the community.

See What is Planning for more information

Start your search early! Once you have familiarised yourselves with the type of work available, start looking for work opportunities, this can be as early as your second or third year of university.

If this is your first time working in the planning field, apply widely and be open to any opportunity to learn. If you are still studying, it is likely that you will qualify for structured intern programmes which are focused on professional development and introducing you to the practice. These often run during summer and have application deadlines in the middle to latter part of the year.

If you have graduated recently or will be graduating in the next year, you can apply for graduate programmes. These are usually between two to four years and have application deadlines as early as the start of the year.

Also consider actively sending your CV and an expression of interest to employers as jobs may not always be advertised. Although this requires more groundwork on your part, it shows potential employers initiative and a willingness to learn.

Make a good impression

Set up your LinkedIn profile and keep updating it regularly. This is a great online platform for prospective employers or recruitment agencies to be aware of who you are and what you can offer to an employer.

Follow organisations that are involved in planning and start building your network through connecting with university alumni and teaching staff.

Make sure your CV highlights skills and experiences relevant to the role you are applying for. Use your cover letter to demonstrate your interests and enthusiasm, remember as a new planner being keen to learn is your best asset! Finally, remember to keep your cv short!

Where to look

The NZPI Jobs Board connects you with planning opportunities throughout the country. Many of the positions listed are not usually advertised elsewhere, or as comprehensively. Members are notified of new position via our weekly e-bulletin.

    The transition to full-time work is likely to be a significant lifestyle change, so prepare as much as you can but remember that settling in will take time.

    Top tips from the Emerging Planners Group:

    • Clean-up your online presence
    • Take notes/create your own information database
    • Keep a diary/planner to stay organised when arranging your week
    • Keep up to date with current news and changes impacting the industry
    • Check-in with yourself - your mental and physical health are important for overall wellbeing and success in your new role.
    • Get a good night's sleep - get enough rest so you can concentrate throughout the day
    • Don't be afraid to ask for help, the learning has just begun!

    If you have questions - use the Emerging Planners community, a key support network.

    The first day of a new job is daunting for everyone but remember that all new starters are in the same boat.

    The first day is likely to consist of many introductions to different people and teams within the organisation as well as tours of the building and facilities. There will be meetings with your new team, briefings about company benefits, human resource issues and trainings on internal systems and protocols, including health and safety.


    • Pre-plan your outfit - dress for success!
    • Manage your energy - have a good night's sleep and plan a nutritious breakfast
    • Trial your commute route to work, plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early on the day
    • Pre-pack your bag - bring a notebook and pen, water bottle, snacks and any other essentials
    • Know exactly who you should be meeting, where and at what time, and be sure to have any required documentation needed for verification. Don't wander off after you check-in.

    On the day:

    • Be prompt, polite, engaged in what is going on and smile!
    • Ask questions
    • Try to socialise and eat lunch with your new colleagues, be friendly and attempt to remember their names.

    That evening:

    • Sort out the information you have been given - account details, key resources, vital information around scheduling.
    • Plan for the following day, the same way you prepared for the first day.
    • Find time to relax and wind-down.

    Learning doesn't stop after graduation, it's important to continue developing your skills.

    Whilst this can occur organically through work experience, the NZPI host several CPD (Continuing Professional Development) training events per year covering a range of topics, including compulsory NZPI membership courses. Take note of the ones that interest you and talk to your Manager/Team Leader as your workplace may cover costs.

    Most workplaces also have their own in-house training or offer employees external training. Keep an eye out for these through your workplace intranet or manager.

    For more information on upcoming NZPI CPD training events, click here.

    NZPI Emerging Planners Mentoring Programme

    The NZPI Mentoring Programme is for Emerging Planners with up to five years' experience. This programme runs every 18 months and aims to pair emerging planners with experienced professionals in the industry. These professionals will provide guidance, share insights and help you navigate you career and obtain full membership with the NZPI. For more information, get in touch with your regional Emerging Planners Group.

    Many kiwis go on their 'OE' after graduating, with so many planners in New Zealand having worked in the United Kingdom (UK), most UK planning employers have a good idea of the work kiwis are capable of.

    Stay connected with other emerging planners via the EP Facebook page and seek guidance from your colleagues who have done an OE - they may even be able to put you in contact with a potential employer!

    While the UK is the traditional OE destination, there are also opportunities to work overseas in Australia, various countries in Asia, America and Canada.

    People often do their OE after a few years of work experience, but you can explore opportunities to do this before starting full-time work or during the university summer break.

    Don’t forget to update your NZPI membership after graduating or starting work, for details see the Renew / Change Membership page.

    Click here