Part of our ethical obligation as Chartered Members of the Landscape Institute (CMLI) is to further the profession by encouraging a sufficient quantity, and good calibre of, applicants to pursue Landscape Architecture as a career.
An important additional benefit of talking to students is not only that it encourages them to think about a career in our profession. If they don't become Landscape Architects themselves, they may be clients and co-professionals of the future, who will then have an awareness of the contribution Landscape Architects can bring to so many projects.
I have now become a regular feature at the annual careers day held by my old school, The Crossley Heath School in Halifax. Each year has been an enjoyable experience (if slightly nerve-wracking; the prospect of holding the attention of a group of teenagers is always daunting!)
On each occasion, I have done two sessions back-to-back, each about 30 minutes, and with about 10-20 students. Landscape Architecture is a very easy thing to make interesting and engaging for that length of time - particularly with the aid of the LI's new 'Be A Landscape Architect' website, powerpoint template, and hand outs. The 'I want to be a Landscape Architect' video, though over 5 years old now, has aged well - it is still an incredibly useful tool, and a great summary of what we do.
Going back to the school where I grew up has been particularly pleasant - I have been able to reminisce, catch up with old teachers, have a look how things have changed; and the experience is the less daunting for the familiarity of the setting.
Returning to a place I know has also made it particularly easy to get in touch, and organise the visit. Discovering that they have an annual careers event now has made for a good regular opportunity - no doubt other schools do something similar, and would be very glad of volunteers.
The point of contact has also had a couple of other positive spin-offs. I have been able to get in touch with other careers advisors in the local area, enabling me to share the new 'Be A Landscape Architect' website with them as well. It has also provided an opportunity for getting some printed resources into the school library, including copies of landscape architecture and design magazines, which I would otherwise have recycled, and would much prefer to see re-used. The LI was able to donate a years' worth of hard copy Landscape Journal issues, which students at my old school will be particularly interested to see with an Old Crossleyan's name listed on the Editorial Panel!
It has been especially rewarding to know that one student, out of the 100 or so I have spoken with so far, has gone on to study at Sheffield, on the dual honours Architecture and Landscape course I took myself.
Not a bad rate of return over three years; imagine if all of the 5000+ LI members were to encourage an extra recruit to an accredited course, and introduce Landscape Architecture to 99 other students. In just a few years' time we could have doubled the numbers of the profession, and introduced the value of Landscape Architecture to an additional 495, 000 politicians, professionals, members of the public, and clients of the future.
By Amanda McDermott CMLI
This blog post was used as part of the Landscape Institute's 'Ambassador for Landscape' campaign