As an emerging professional you have many avenues to meet landscape architects in your community. Making the effort to introduce yourself is important; this is especially true if you relocated after completing your studies. Networking also provides the opportunity to learn more about the practice in your region. Consider the checklist below to meet peers and allied professionals.
- Contact your ASLA chapter leaders and section officers to introduce yourself and ask about area firms and projects. Usually, a simple phone call goes a long way! And don’t forget to volunteer — before you know it you will be a chapter officer!
- Attend a chapter meeting, continuing education program, or social gathering.
- Be an active, positive participant in your chapter’s social media platforms.
- Make an appointment with the local parks and planning agency directors or key staff to introduce yourself (be sure to bring your résumé).
- Volunteer with local environmental and advocacy non-profits that promote missions similar to yours (Sierra Club, River Keepers, Bicycling Advocacy Groups, Local Food Advocacy Groups, etc).
- Research state and local agencies, many need volunteers to assist with specific projects (Parks, Forestry, etc).
- Attend a licensing board public meeting; introduce yourself to the board members.
Developing contacts in the profession opens the possibility of meeting seasoned professionals who can offer advice and guidance. Look for a mentor with successful project and/or career experience, leadership skills and an effective communication style that appeals to you.
Finding a Mentor
When looking for a mentor, consider landscape architects outside your firm or agency. You have access to seasoned professionals with diverse backgrounds at your ASLA chapter. Remember good mentors:
- are open-mined and good listeners
- have time for you
- provide honest feedback
- are positive role models
- are committed to the profession
- are open and transparent
- believe in your potential
- can introduce you to others within the profession
Your Role as a Mentee
And don’t forget that being a mentee also requires some work on your part.
- Connect with your mentor every eight weeks.
- Be honest with your mentor about your successes and failures.
- Advise your mentor when one of their ideas or suggestions has worked for you; share your success and thank them for their guidance.
- Be open-mined and a good listener. Allow your mentor to be candid in giving feedback; don’t be defensive when you receive tough comments.
- Return the favor. Serve as a mentor once you have developed into a seasoned professional.
- Be enthusiastic. What encourages a mentor is a young mentee that shares their enthusiasm for the profession.