Making a Lasting Impression
Professional landscape architects provide some insight on what they
are looking for in an entry-level employee.
By Heather Hammatt, ASLA
The job market for landscape architects is somewhat challenging
with today's uncertain economy undermining the confidence that typically
drives growth and development in the United States. As the strains
of Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" fade on college and university
campuses nationwide, landscape architecture graduates face the daunting
task of landing that all-important first job.
The more you know about the person (or persons) sitting across
the desk and the philosophy and work ethic of the firm when you
walk into an interview, the better. This idea is not new. In fact
it has been a central theme of Richard Nelson Bolles's popular job
search self-help book What Color Is Your Parachute? (Ten
Speed Press, 2001), throughout its editions.
With today's easy access to information via the World Wide Web,
finding contact information and basic background information on
a firm requires nothing more than a quick glance at its web site.
For smaller firms that have not yet joined the cyber age, the web
may still provide news clippings or other informational links that
will provide some insight. Purdue graduate John Haven, now employed
with Carol R. Johnson and Associates in Boston, used the information
he gleaned from online searches to personalize his queries to potential
firms. "I used the information in cover letters ('I saw your project
online,' etc.) to make the letters more personal. I was also able
to discuss projects during the interview process," says Haven.
Many first-time job seekers are further harnessing the power of
the Internet for instant communication, sending resumes and query
letters via e-mail, setting up personal web sites to display their
work, and creating digital portfolios that can be distributed on
CD. However, the verdict is not in on the success of this approach,
as the landscape architecture profession as a whole is not always
current with today's technological bells and whistles (see Technology
in this issue). While some firms have joined the cyber age, many
still choose to communicate with a more traditional cover letter,
resume, and work samples in hard copy. "We can pass that around
more readily and don't have to spend time printing and compiling,"
says Pamela Shadley, ASLA, a principal with Carol R. Johnson and
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