Volunteer Opportunities

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    Hello, I am considering applying to some grad programs within the next couple of years and am curious to see if anyone has any recommendations for volunteer opportunities that will help further prepare me for study and strengthen my application. I am currently located in San Francisco…

    Thanks in Advance!

    Brent Jacobsen

    Hi Larissa – contacting UC Berkeley’s department might be a great place to inquire about organizations in the Bay Area that advocate or work on issues relevant to landscape architecture. They have a great tradition of working with communities in a range of capacities, and a lot of ties to environmentally-based nonprofits in the area.

    I feel like answering this question also relates to two issues:

    1. What are you interested in doing in grad school?
    2. What grad schools are you considering?

    Depending on the answers to those questions, volunteer opportunities can either help you achieve existing goals or help you determine what you want to study and where. If you know what you want to do, I recommend pursuing opportunities related to your interests, or learning more about research topics faculty at your preferred schools are involved with and volunteer in those areas that interest you. Doing so would make you a stronger candidate for a particular school, and allow you to talk with the faculty ahead of time to learn more about their research / design activities, identify potential opportunities for you, and build relationships.

    Assuming you don’t know the answers to either of those questions, then I would recommend looking for volunteer positions that advance your interests or explore facets of landscape architecture. Do something that sounds interesting to you, represents what you care about, or explores an area you know nothing about to learn more about the field. Possibilities include:

    – paid or unpaid intern positions with a firm (once the economy picks up)
    – work with a community or organic farm
    – non-profits focused on green infrastructure like urban trees (e.g. DC’s Casey Tree Foundation or LA’s TreePeople)
    – non-profit advocacy groups (Friends of the LA River is one example)
    – local natural resources like state and federal parks.

    The act of volunteering can be a good note on a resume, but will probably serve you best as a vehicle for defining more what you might like to do in grad school.


    Thank you so much for your response! I think this will definitely give me a good starting point in my search.

    Brent Jacobsen

    You are welcome – good luck!

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