New Year, New Job...

The new year has brought with it big changes as I have now emerged from the familiar university bubble and begun my official foray into the working world. I’ve traded in late-night, caffeine-fuelled study groups for early morning (also caffeine-fuelled) brainstorming sessions, and it’s been an exciting transition.

I joined DG Cities as a Project Officer this past Monday and it has been a whirlwind from the start! The week has been a blur of mystifying acronyms, fast-talkers, impressive projects and even more impressive colleagues. It’s a tight-knit, collaborative team united in their passion for thinking outside the box and making our cities greener and safer. My first-day nerves were compounded by the sheer competency and expertise of the team, but all fears vanished after being immediately welcomed by plenty of reassuring smiles and countless cups of tea.

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While I’m still getting a grasp on the ins and outs of the company, it already feels like the right fit given my background and experience. I just earned my MSc in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics last month with a particular focus on accessible urban design. I’m interested in exploring alternative strategies to make cities more inclusive and accessible, whilst remaining committed to environmental sustainability.

People are fundamentally at the heart of what I do, and the majority of my past research projects have all sought to engage with the broader public. Whether I’ve been exploring regeneration proposals in a small community or assessing perceptions of safety in different urban public spaces, I am passionate about centring people in my research and learning from their insights.

Working at DG Cities is the perfect opportunity to explore two of my passions: community engagement and urban innovation. In the year ahead I’ll be contributing to some truly exciting projects. I’m currently working on the Strategic Research Programme (SRP), a crucial part of the larger Smart Mobility Living Lab.

As part of the SRP, we’re preparing to trial an autonomous vehicle within one area of the Borough, and I’m in the process of determining what research methodologies we’ll be using to generate public participation and feedback. I’ll also get a chance to work on the ground-breaking Apollo 21 project which will be piloting an autonomous ride-sharing service in Greenwich.

So, some very thrilling projects on the horizon for us here at DG Cities. And while I might not have deciphered all of the acronyms yet or figured out how the coffee machine works, what I do know is that having the opportunity to work on such innovative projects with this forward-thinking team makes me one very, very lucky graduate.

Arielle