So How Are The Kids Doing?

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    Rob Halpern

    A recent post by an experienced (OK, mature?) member chides a possible L.A. student for being overly sensitive to criticism.

    I have corresponded with a number of students in recent years and find many get angry if you don’t tell them what they want to hear and have zero professional etiquette.

    But maybe it’s just me

    So I am wondering: how is the new generation of students actually doing in the work place?

    In general terms, do they fit in and become welcome additions to the office?

    Or are the too much work to deal with? High maintenance?

    Do they stick around or are they shopping for new jobs all the time?

    We have had several threads here at Land8 from young people wanting to prod their elders to get out of the way… now I’d like to hear the elders on the topic of the young kids as employees.

    Anyone game?

    Tosh K

    I’d also be curious to see if people feel this is a Gen-Y thing or if this has always been more or less the case.

    As a few of my professors told me: “it’s ok to have strong convictions, just be aware that, sometimes, you’re wrong.”

    Jason T. Radice

    Fascinating question! I’d love to see an answer to this, particularly for architects which already have an ego problem.

    Seeing it from both sides (giving AND receiving) brutal crits in school, you come to realize that it is a most valuable part of the education process. You learn from your mistakes and learn to give substantive reason in defending your design.

    Out in the real world, often your boss, or more importantly your CLIENT, can be even more brutal critics, especially when they stop doing business with you.

    Goustan BODIN

    Making mistakes is normal for anyone learning any job, and getting a first job experience or two is a regular thing to do. Gets everyone on their teeth, but it’s part of the learning process.

    Now, kids cant stay kids too long in the office, if they want to progress and get a better position. Would that be the difference between ‘junior’ staff and up ?


    As one the old heads who has expressed feelings about some of the sensitivity of some of the younger folks here on Land8, I have to stand up for the tough minority. I’ve worked with some junior designers that understood the game. The ones that didn’t fold when they had a little pressure put on them were the ones that paid their own way through school and had to deal with some adversity in their lives. They didn’t take constructive criticism as a personal attack. They were the ones who were able to take their egos out of the situation and appreciated someone trying to help them be better designers.

    I hate to say it but the majority of the grads the schools are producing are just too fragile. I worked with this young lady who had a couple of years of experience that graduated from a well-respected program. She was extremely good looking and carried herself well. The problem was she had grown accustomed to her male bosses falling all over her and ignoring her terrible work. So one day I gave her a simple grading problem to do because she had been begging me to help her to prepare for the LARE. I took out more than 3 hours of my personal time one evening to show her how to grade and gave her my old copy of Grade Easy. Two days later she asked me to take a look at the grading plan. When I saw it I was shocked. There were crossing contour lines, missing contour lines and a sidewalk with a really steep slope on it. So I chuckled a little bit and nicely said that we’re going to have to put in some more time and that maybe I assumed that she had a better grasp on grading than she really had. She went back to her work station and started crying. I felt terrible, so I went over to her and told her that it takes most people years to really know how to do grading and drainage, me included.

    About a week later when the owner came in, he calls into his office and tells me that this young lady told him that I yelled and was very demeaning to her. Without even asking my side of the story, he tells me that we can’t have our senior staff verbally abusing junior staff. I said nothing to him and three weeks later gave him my letter of resignation. The young lady is now a housewife.

    Why is it that whenever you tell some young folks something they don’t want to hear they feel you’re yelling at them?

    Maybe we should stop calling these young adults kids and maybe they’ll act like adults. But, then again I could be wrong. 



    The young kids are great. It’s the old ones that cause the problems. They are unable or unwilling to learn new techniques, crotchety, and smell like old people.




    Come on Nick…..give us veteran LA’s a break…..*smile*.  Well, comparing the young kids with the experience LA’s…..the young ones come “cheap”.  I’ve seen starting entry level salaries in the $37,500.00 range – sort of hard to make a living on that – unless you’re still living with Mom & Dad. I believe $42k to $48k is more realistic…depending on the candidate’s background, portfolio and potential.

    But, I do agree that MOST of the young people I have come across are GREAT to be around and work with. 

    I recently mentored a young LA with 2 yrs. of experience.  This LA grad. was preparing for the L.A.R.E. and only had to pass the “grading design” portion….and was having a lot of difficulties with it.  He asked for my help and I was more than willing.  I’ve graded over 500 projects in my career…..sites that were flat, very steep and everything in between.  The KEY is understanding the grading “process”.  I taught this candidate the “process” by going through a couple of simple “sample” grading problems.  He DID pass the L.A.R.E. and is now a licensed LA in a couple of states.  This LA grad has a fantastic, positive attitude….and I think will go far.  However, I do have one concern…..this person is starting an LA firm (with only 2 yrs. of limited design experience) and very few actual work samples.  Although NOT impossible, I think this is a very steep learning curve to be able to achieve.  When I went out on my own, I had 13 yrs. of experience as an LA….though, I know, I probably could have est. my own LA firm sooner than I did.  But, young LA’s need to understand……a license in any State to practice Landscape Architect does NOT make you “competent”…that license only makes you “eligible” to practice LA.  What actually makes a Landscape Architect “competent”… “experience” and the more the better!

    I know young LA grads aren’t very excited about putting in a couple of years in “production”, autoCAD, etc….but, as my University professors explained to me and my graduating class…..your first year on the job, you will NOT earn much income for an LA firm….you are mostly “overhead”…because, you are “learning”.  University LA grads need to learn to be a “sponge” when they get that first design job…learn everything you possibly can those first few years – from the talented and experienced LAs around you.

    P.S….Nick, saw your QUESTION about “when to expand, hire up, etc.”.  Tough question, my friend.  Approx. 2-1/2 yrs. after I est. my own LA practice, I began to get buried with design work….putting in way too many hours.  I was afraid to turn down work for fear of losing a good client – because, as we know, it’s easier to keep a GREAT client than try to find new ones.  I decided NOT to expand…and have continued to stay on my own since 1991.  I probably should – could have expanded after about 4 yrs…hired a couple of young LAs for production and mentor them towards design.  I think once you know you have a heavy workload….repeat clients and the demands on your own time become too much…it’s time to “consider” growing.  One thing, I think I never really learned, is finding that “balance” between work, play & relationships…which is very difficult when you a (1 man LA firm).  I wish you and your LA firm the very best!

    Best Regards,


    Trace One

    LOL! they do smell, the old ones,  and can’t get up out of the chair anymore.  And constantly harp on how much better they were than the young people today will ever be. hee hee..and have no sense of humor…

    Rob Halpern

    And the noises!



    Although I’m not a really old dude, I do look forward to the day when I have a carte blanche to be a smelly old curmudgeon. Hey, you kids get off my lawn!

    The funny thing is that if you’re lucky and live long enough you to will have the pleasure of being set in your ways, stiff, and gassy too. Life is good!


    Craig/Trace…….Yeah, those kids need to stay off BOTH the lawn and grass…LOL!

    Yes….AGE….is an odd thing.  I’m coming up on 64 soon – well, I’m rarely in front of a camera, so my profile pic was from the week of my 60th B’day.  I had a University professor tell me once….as designers, we are like fine wine…as we get older, we get better.  He also mentioned to me, that Architect Frank Lloyd Wright created some of his very best design work while he was in his 70’s.

    And……I’ve attended nearly all of my high school reunions – even chaired a couple of them.  What I learned to be a bit disturbing is….well, my HS graduating class had a total of 850 graduates…but, approx. 30% of them never even reached the age of “60”.  So……Trace, getting OLD is not really a bad thing….I’m HAPPY to be here…and I assure you – I can definitely still get out of my chair…LOL……play golf, tennis and jog.

    And, I know, in this life……no matter what it is.  Sports, design, etc…there will always be those who are better than we are.  So, I believe there are some fantastically young, talented LA’s around the Globe….who will push our profession to a higher level…….hey, we’re counting on you guys…*smile*.


    Andrew Spiering

    I think this discussion has some merit, however, I am more interested to know the answers to questions like:

    1.  What are 3 things that make a recent grad employable?

    2.  What are 3 best things that new hires can do to make an immediate impact/contribution in the studio?

    3.  What are 3 questions to ask during an interview to ensure the candidate/firm is a good fit?

    Ya, I’m into the “power of 3” thing… 🙂


    I think you mean Nick/Trace. 

    Rob Halpern

    Well sure, but for what it is worth, my original question was closer to “Is there a problem?”

    Which is very different from “A Guide For The Young Person Looking For Employment”

    1. Hunger for knowledge, good attitude and a great sense of humor.
    2. Know how to do simple sketches, stay off of their electronic gadgets and learn how to actually listen to instruction.
    3. I think educational background, interviews and portfolios are over rated. You don’t know if someone is a good fit until you’ve worked with them for a while. You get to see what you’ve really got when they’re under extended periods of pressure. 
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