As an emerging professional, industry involvement is just as important as your drafting skills. Making a name for yourself, developing leadership skills, and networking are key to a successful career. Participating in ASLA chapter activities can assist you in developing valuable personal skills and contacts. Chapters offer a wide array of opportunities to get involved, here are just a few examples:
Many chapters have leadership opportunities for Associate members just like you. The Maryland chapter’s Junior Professional Representative (JPR) is the perfect example. Candidates apply for this one-year position; the duties are to attend the executive committee meetings and plan one chapter-wide event. The JPR is responsible for budgeting, planning, and volunteer management. It’s a great way to learn about the Society, develop leadership skills, and make professional connections.
Chapters also have emerging professional committees that plan events and programs targeted at new graduates. For example, the California Sierra chapter’s emerging professionals committee hosts a monthly Thirsty Third Mixer. On the third Thursday of each month, emerging professionals from ASLA and other design and planning groups meet-up to network.
Other avenues to participate in your community include (these are great tips but not necessarily a plug for membership):
Local municipalities. Since 2001, the City of Seattle has placed over 150 young people between the ages of 18-29 on boards and commissions as part of their Get Engaged program. Emerging professionals in landscape architecture have served on the Design Commission and Planning Commission in the past. While your municipality may not have a similar program, they are often looking for enthusiastic volunteers.
Non-profits. Interaction with a local non-profit is a great way to educate the public on how landscape architects better our communities on a daily basis. Often, all it takes is a little research and a phone call to find local opportunities to get engaged with your community as an emerging professional.
Get involved; you’ll learn more about your profession, your community and yourself.