Can’t find a job in L.A., other careers?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Can’t find a job in L.A., other careers?

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    Jay Smith

    I left my job as a Landscape architect (in the U.S.) early last year and I’m having NO luck finding a new position. New developement has been at a stand still and companies simply are not hiring new Landscape Architects and Architects right now. It’s very fustrating because I have a bachelors from a good university and eight years of experience in the field. I even owe money still on my student loans.

    After a year of hard searching, lots of cold calls/cold letters/responding to countless ads, I’m forced to look at other professions. Yet I just don’t know what to do. Finding a position that pays enough to cover rent, car payment, and provides health insurance feels like an impossible task. I have no experience in any other field.

    Has anyone here had luck finding a job in another profession? I’m really not even sure where to start.
    I have a book called “What color is your parachute” that help identify transferable skills, I’m hoping this will give me some clues.

    From the posts I’ve read on here, it sounds like other job seekers are finding the same situation. It’s really a sad situation when you apply to hundreds of firms, and get no interest in return. I know some people on here have talked about picking up odd jobs here and there, but I just don’t think that willl work for me, as I need a secure fixed income and health insurance I can count on from month to month.

    I haven’t given up totally on this profession, but I’m realizing after a year of searching that the writing is on the wall, I’m going to have to leave the profession for a year or two until the market comes back.

    Ray Senes


    A couple of things may help you out. I am searching as well and these things were told to me:

    1. Find a way to separate yourself from the rest. Be unique in some way, maybe through your portfolio.
    2. On your resume, many firms just are looking at the first half of the first page, so sell yourself there.
    3. Your more apt to find a job through a connection ie: from a friend or through networking that by just sending out ramdom resumes
    4. Be persistant – sometimes just show up at a firm with your portfolio and ask if they have ten minutes to look. The worst they can say is no, and most are not busy in firms right now, so they may be curious and take a look at your work
    5. Be willing to relocate and travel

    These are the big 5. Do not give up and stay optimistic. If you are searching for other carreers, try sales, anything arts related etc..

    Good luck

    Ray Senes

    Andrew Spiering

    Excellent advice, Ray!

    I would add:
    6. Volunteer your time at a non-profit. (This will help boost your morale.)
    7. Go to your top choice and tell them you are willing to work 10 hours a week for free.

    Jared Chase

    While I’m not a landscape architect(I graduated this December with a degree in Horticulture/Business), I had the same problem finding a job in the industry. There isn’t much out there right now.

    So what I did was take a job at a construction company as a laborer. It’s not glorious, the hours are long, the work is hard, but it does pay well and it sure beats being unemployed. On the weekends I mow yards and also work for a wedding venue company. Sure it’s not what I want to do but eventually everything will improve.

    Right now the best thing to do is just get some type of income. Any is better than none, even if it doesn’t include the package your looking for. This is just a bump in the road and I really feel that good things happen when you least expect them. Just take what you can get now and in the meantime keep applying and looking for jobs. Don’t give up, eventually something will work out.

    Jay Smith

    Thanks for everyone’s input. I’m still curious to know if anyone perusing this board has been successful changing careers, and if so, what did they do?

    Just to comment on some of the responses above:

    I think doing things to seperate yourself from others is always important, in any economic climate, but I would agree with Andrew, if no one is hiring, it’s not going to make any difference. I’ve tried every method I can think of to generate some interest out there, I’ve contacted hundreds of firms on my own, tailored my resume to specific firms, sent out portfolios, spent countless hours on the phone, etc etc etc. Bottom line is, no one is hiring. And the few that are have the creme of the crop to choose from.

    As far as having a long period of emptiness on my resume…while I would prefer not to have it, I think this past year has been unprecedented. I’m not sure if those who currently have jobs (who haven’t had to look in this climate) can even phathom how bad it really is out there for those of us in this situation. I’ve been through an economic downturn before, and finding a job back then meant working harder, being open to relocate ‘anywhere’, and doing all those things you’ve all mentioned above..and back then, it worked. But what we are facing now, is far far different. So I would hope that a future employer would be aware of what people have been going through in this recession and not hold it against anyone.

    I’m currently looking to get into another field, possibly permanently. So taking temporary odd jobs ‘to get by’ isn’t really my mindset right now. I’d like to think I can get back into Landscape Architecture in another year or two, but considering how fragile the profession is, I’m not convinced I’ll be back.

    Ray Senes


    I would not give up so quickly. It is true you have to really love Landscape architecture to put up with the ups and downs, but for me it is worth waiting it out. I might get another job in the meantime though to carry me over, but I am getting unemployment now. I already have some leads on employment. My guess, although no one knows for sure, things may start to bottom out by the end of the summer, and you may get a few firms hiring. Try Architects, planners, construction. Sometimes they hire us. It may not be the dream job, but it will tie you over until the right one comes along. Everyone’s situation is different. also try reading the” The Cliff walk” by don Snyder – great read.

    Good luck again


    Lisa Town

    Hi Jay,

    What are your strengths or skills? There are so many directions that landscape architects could potentially go. You don’t really have much to go on from your profile. One easy way to go is into some sort of graphics field. The upside to that field is that you don’t need a dedicated degree, just skills. That’s why it makes it a bit more difficult to move over to something like, say, architecture. Although not that it can’t be done.

    But there are so many ways you can go in graphic design. If you have an affinity for marketing and communications, that’s a direction to pursue and maybe even branding. Also environmental graphic design firms that do signage, wayfinding and interpretive stuff. There are also firms that do work FOR landscape architects like visualization and what I’ve found with these firms is that they actually really want people that have been in the landscape or architecture business because they understand more what they are doing. Even if you can’t actually do any visualization often times they need project managers who handle the project, deal with landscape architects or architects, create the vision and manage the team of viz artists. In fact, I know someone who left the landscape architecture field to be one of those people and he loves it. And one thing he is doing is learning more things on the side to enhance his skills, maybe to take on some viz stuff himself.

    Another thing lots of people do is work for companies that sell products to designers. I knew a landscape architect that left to start up her own lighting company and another guy who left to become an irrigation rep for Rain Bird. Again, these companies want landscape architects because they know what landscape architects want. Are there any areas or products you are particularly good at or interested in?

    There are also endless plant related areas. You could become an arborist?

    I could come up with all kinds of stuff, tell me more about your skills and I’ll see what else I can come up with. Don’t lose heart about landscape architecture though, it’s such a wonderful profession and the future is bright….we just have to get over this hump, like nearly every other industry out there.

    Gabino Carballo


    I am retraining as a Project Manager, for different reasons, but I find that there are lots of tools that can be transferred to Landscape Architecture and put to good use. If you have the time, try and develop some skills that way. You may be able to find your way to other industries that way and also strengthen your position in Landscape Design.

    Above all, stay focused on whatever you think you really want/can do and keep trying and drilling.

    The art of survival has never been mastered by quitters!


    Jay Smith

    Gabino, you said you are retraining as a PM. Does that mean your coming into the profession or going out? And how exactly are you training?

    Gabino Carballo


    It means that I am maximizing some of my strenghts in the field of LA to become a Project Manager. I already do a fair amount of work not entirely related to Landscape Design. I may stay within the profession, but I have already been involved with Building Construction and Engineering, and I am also looking at other fields, such as consulting. So I may end up working on something entirely unrelated to LA in the next ten years.

    I have taken a module with the Open University (a British distance learning Institution) on the subject and I am now going through a part-time PMI certified Master, which is both useful and expensive!

    However, my impression is that if you independently study and adapt the current knowledge base on PM to your professional practice, you may be able to crank your skills up considerably, with some formal training from time to time.

    I comment a little bit all these issues here:

    However, I do not promote abandoning Landscape Architecture. It is quite a special field, and if you enjoy it, there is no reason to leave it, as long as you are ware of its limitations as a professional choice. I do promote reform and change in the profession, but that is another topic!

    Tim Marten

    When you start at the bottom you have no where to go but up.
    12 years ago i was pushing lawns, shelping stone, slining dirt and being told to replant that bush for the 4th time that day, but i have stuck with it and followed opportunities and paths as they came up. I may still be looking for work despite a BLA, MLA and MUP, and LEED AP but I’m trying to find what are the steps in between here and where i want to be and if that means pushing lawns, shelping stone, slining dirt and being told to replant that bush for the 4th time that day again then well i came from beans i can go back to beans.

    Tim Marten

    I am struggeling with this too, my recent leads and attempts have been in five categories
    1- Environmental Restoration/Mitigation: cleaning up contaminated sites, leaking tanks ect.
    2- Energy Analyst:
    3- Teaching Environmental Sci: Community College Level
    4- Basic construction labor: if you built it you can improve on it
    4- Box car riding hobo (okay so its always been my real plan but, the folks didn’t like that one to much)

    Tim Marten

    I admit to being just nerd enough to diagram articles when reading for a class, but I’m not sure if I can admit to doing just about what you laid out. I would need to add to your list what I wanted to gain or learn from X firm or the process and approach used in marketing myself for a job.

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