Planner Spotlight: Jenna Silcott

Current Position: Associate/Planner at MAKERS architecture and urban design
Total years of planning: 7 years
Hobbies: Cooking, reading about food, eating food, walking around the city, riding bikes near water
Hometown: Bardstown, KY/Columbus, OH
Favorite Places: Tokyo, Copenhagen, Phinney Ridge on a clear day, Bernheim Forest, my deck 
Why did you choose a career in planning? I’ve always been interested in connectivity and the ripple effects of seemingly unrelated decisions. If it says anything about me, I studied International Political Economy in undergrad in addition to loading up my time with studio art classes. I wanted to find a profession that would allow me to continue to think broadly and bounce between seemingly unrelated subjects. At the same time, I wanted to work in a field that could have a positive impact in the world and would be specific enough to accomplish goals and move projects forward. It’s a tough line to walk, but I think the planning world is the ideal place for broad thinkers who also like to meet goals.

Why did you decide to be a planner in Washington? I love the Pacific Northwest. I attended undergrad in Washington and I was still thinking about this place when I left to attend graduate school at the Ohio State University. I worked remotely at my first planning job out of graduate school and eventually decided to come out here and see what would happen. I had an opportunity to work with MAKERS about a year after I came back to Seattle and I’ve been here ever since. This is a great fit since we do local work as well as projects all over the US.

What projects/initiatives are you currently working on? I primarily work on federal projects at MAKERS. We just recently finished a project for the United States Coast Guard that examined nine locations throughout the United States as potential homeports for a future class of ship.

What was your first planning-related job? I was a consultant at Urban Decision Group (UDG) and I got to try a little bit of everything. I made maps, worked public meetings, wrote reports, learned to discern the stories in data, designed the website, etc. 

What advice would you give a new planner? Take the time in school to learn some hard skills. If you are a creative person at heart, that will come along with you naturally, but having hard skillsets will serve you well. If you’re out of school, be creative with your degree and think big during the job search. There are a lot of ways to be a planner.

What do you wish you had known when you started your career? That federal planning was a thing. Maybe they told me and I just forgot?

If you were not a planner what profession would you likely be in? Ideally, independently wealthy and head of several charities. Realistically, I could see a world where I went to law school.

Do you have any favorite websites/tools/blogs that relate to planning or your job that you’d like to share? because inspiration is important, and planners love graphs.

Return to the March/April issue of The Washington Planner