Still unable to get a Landscape Designer job, is it better to take a related admin or non-profit job?

Home Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE Still unable to get a Landscape Designer job, is it better to take a related admin or non-profit job?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Leslie B Wagle 2 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #152187

    Jordan
    Participant

    Hello and Happy New Year! I am an MLA a few years out of school and have no long-term firm experience (I also did not have an opportunity to intern while in school because I studied abroad). I have been freelancing for the last few years and have some experience but have not been considered for any entry-level landscape designer jobs. I am currently pursuing a couple of full-time positions that have promise: one is an administrative position at a landscape architecture firm I would love to work for, the other is with a design-oriented non-profit I have worked with in the past and although the job is not yet defined I know there won’t be any design but it will be a good networking position. Which do you think will position me for eventually landing a good job as a landscape designer? Or should I give up trying to be a landscape designer since I can’t even get an interview for a landscape designer job? Thank you in advance for any feedback!

    #152192

    Leslie B Wagle
    Participant

    I’m not sure anyone can answer that adequately, as both have potential. I think I would try and explore whether the administrative person might occasionally be considered an additional resource person in a crunch. With good supervision, that might help you get a feel for (and a few portfolio samples related to) the technical side of the practice, as well as building some knowledge and confidence. However, be wary that may not happen. In the nonprofit, networking is a benefit but moving into design will still come down eventually to having something to show in interviews. Again, could they allow you to come up with preliminary concepts or illustrations? I’m doubtful that avenue will be as technical but it may be the prospect which actually makes an offer. 

    #152191

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    Well, I know a woman (only relevant because her description at the time matches yours) with an MLA who started out doing administrative work in a small LA firm who has won ASLA national awards (at least two, but possibly more). I would not think twice about it.

    My opinion is that this is a better position to be in for your long term goals than doing production work. You are going to see how the business works. You are going to directly deal with everyone the office deals with. You are going to see and experience a lot more about the business of landscape architecture than anyone clicking a CAD mouse. You are also going to be sitting in the building with a skill set that can be tapped into when they need it.

    Don’t overlook that this can be a strategic way for the firm to make an uncommitted hire meaning that they may need some administrative help as well as some production help. Can you think of a better way to hire a versatile person and one with a mind set that not only says they’ll do anything, but a person coming in to do those other things.

    This screams opportunity to me.

    #152190

    Leslie B Wagle
    Participant

    You said it better than I did…. I wondered a bit if it could be a limiting pigeonhole in the wrong firm but on the other hand, they know what her background is coming in and must be interested. It’s bound to occur to somebody there, now or later, this would be a built-in way around the hassle of hiring outside temporary contractors, or overburdening other staff. Maybe even if it had to be extra hours? There’s the hazard of being asked to carry more than a fair load (admin. set to the side but still expected at same level). But that’s a hazard anyway, anywhere you try out.

    #152189

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    …. and if nothing else, the possibility of networking may lead to another job.

    #152188

    Jordan
    Participant

    Thank you all for the great advice! I ended up taking the non-profit job and I think it is a lot more interesting than the admin job would be (and although not much design there is a lot of interesting networking and great people that I interact with everyday). Cheers to all who offered their take on this and good luck to all with similar job search dilemmas.

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