Name: Arthur Schmidt
Title/Organization: Senior Planner, OHM Advisors
Graduation Year: 2013
Degree: Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development, Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs or Urban Affairs
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a project manager and senior planner with OHM Advisors in the Cleveland office. OHM Advisors is a diverse, multi-disciplinary firm whose primary goal is community advancement. Our office is located in the Link 59 Building in the Midtown neighborhood. I truly enjoy working for our firm and with my teammates because we always put people first. This is not only true in the way we develop our projects, but also includes the way we operate our studio. It is like a second family to me.
At OHM, I work to bring a collaborative and place-based approach to each project I am a part of. I have worked in a variety of project types which includes community and transportation planning, public policy, zoning, economic development, and public engagement/participation. I am also an active member of the American Planning Association (APA) Cleveland Section, currently serving as the Director.
How has your career evolved over the years?
Prior to joining the OHM Advisors family, I worked in the City of Cleveland’s Planning Commission as a planner and urban designer. This was my first professional position out of graduate school, so it was both exciting and nerve racking. My primary focus at Cleveland City Planning was working on transportation-related projects and planning for the downtown neighborhood. I coordinated and managed two different design review boards, grant funding programs, and assisted in other neighborhood-based planning and design projects. I was fortunate enough to have great people around me, who helped me in developing my skills and advise me on how to best move forward in certain circumstances. I am very grateful for my time and experience at Cleveland City Planning and the friendships I am fortunate to still have today.
What’s the biggest challenge you faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
I don’t recall necessarily just one challenge that I faced that I would consider the biggest. However, in each instance that I have come against a challenge, the way in which I was able to overcome it was through taking my time and thinking through all the options that were available to me. I never wanted to make a quick or rash decision. The people around me also reminded me to think through my options and evaluate them with a cool, clear mind. The worst thing you can do is make an emotional decision. So, in each circumstance that I came to face a challenge in my career, regardless of the scale, I worked through it in that manner.
Did you have a mentor? If so, how did he/she help?
Yes, I did, and I am fortunate to say that I had a few individuals that I would consider a mentor to me. Each of them helped me, and continue to do so, in a unique and specific way. I was able to go to one of them depending on the problem or issue I was facing, whether that was professional or even personal. I still communicate frequently with them to this day, and continue to ask for their advice. They help to provide me with different perspectives that I would not have otherwise thought of on my own. They have also provided me with a sounding board to talk and think through ideas or solutions to problems I faced in my career. I am very grateful for their guidance and willingness to assist me.
How long have you been in the mentoring program? Who is your current mentee?
This is officially my second year in the mentorship program, and my current mentee is Jack Brancatelli. Jack is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Regional Studies at Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs.
What has been your favorite mentoring moment so far?
To this point, my favorite mentoring moment so far was seeing a former mentee of mine take a leap towards achieving their desired goal. My mentee and I had been discussing future options during several of our conversations together, outlining a variety of paths that could be taken. I provided them with my thoughts and opinions on the manner during those conversations. I was so proud and excited for my mentee when they informed me of their decision. I could see the excitement in their eyes and even now as I have followed their progress to date, I continue to see that excitement. As a mentor, it is rewarding to see that you were able to make even a small difference, in that individual’s career or path in life.
What is one thing you wish someone would have told you prior to beginning your career? What piece of advice do you have for students beginning their careers?
Patience. Although, this had been told to me on several occasions before beginning my professional career, and it did not sit with me. I was ready to go from 0 to 60 in no time at all, and it was a hard lesson for me to learn that you must have patience. The more patient you are, the more focused you can be on controlling what you can.
The advice I would give to students, in addition to being patient, would be to look for opportunities to interact with professionals in your desired field. I can say from experience that it was incredibly helpful to speak with professionals in my field because it gave me a better understanding of the type of work and projects that I could potentially work on. It also provided me with an opportunity to get to know the people in the field. When I finally started my career, it made things a bit easier as I adjusted and became more comfortable in my own shoes.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would just like to thank everyone at the Center for Public and Nonprofit Management at Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs for their efforts and time in putting together the Mentorship Program. The program is a tremendous asset, not only for the College and University, but also for the students. As such, I would encourage any student to look into being a part of the program as it can provide value for you personally and professionally.