If You Could Change Your Career Path

The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Terry Moore, 2008
The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Terry Moore, 2008

As a corollary to the previous question covered from a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)—What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?—PPN members were also asked: If you could change one thing about your job or career path, what would it be?

On a heartening note, around 10 percent of respondents said they would change nothing:

“50 years have flown by and my career path, which has evolved in several paths over the period, is still fun.”

“I’ve done the types of projects that I’ve wanted to, I founded a successful firm. We do great work for good clients.”

“The eight years I spent in the private sector helped me succeed in the public sector where I am today.”

“I actually did just change the ‘one thing.’ I just started my own studio.”

Almost anyone can relate to many of the other answers given, including requests to “add more time” and “I wish I didn’t have to worry about making money.” However, many responses were specific to landscape architecture, and a few recurring ideas are highlighted below.

Try a Different Kind of Practice

“I wish I had worked for a while in a big ‘corporate’ firm and did a bit more international work—just for the experience.”

“A partnership or collaborative professional relationship, combined with more prominent projects.”

“I have practiced as a sole proprietor for 20 years, so the idea of managing a larger LA or multi-disciplinary firm occasionally taps me on the shoulder.”

“I’ve worked in the same office since I was an intern, for more than 15 years. I’d like to see how others approach projects and design.”

“Would like to have expanded my experiences, both geographical and in different types of offices, earlier in my career.”

“Wish I could better mix private practice in with teaching.”

Macallen Building, South Boston, MA, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: John Horner Photography
Macallen Building, South Boston, MA, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: John Horner Photography

A Change of Focus

“Being involved in more restoration type work (native habitats and landscapes).”

“Be more diligent about stormwater management design and natural water quality technologies.”

“Focus more on plants.”

“I wish I was a plant specialist solely hired to review and develop planting plans.”

“Get more into ecological sustainability and community design.”

“I really like streetscape projects and stormwater management, so I would like to focus more on those two areas.”

“Would have embraced residential work and planting design earlier. It is not given much cachet in school, but it is what excites me about creating beautiful spaces.”

Design Differently

“Add more time to the conceptual and alternative design development phases of a project.”

“Devote more time to design, less to meetings, planning, paperwork.”

“More predictability in work flow.”

“Periodic sabbaticals for recharging—hard to do as principals with responsibilities for management and marketing.”

“Balancing work with artistic pursuits.”

“No email!!!”

Museo del Acero Horno 3, Monterrey, Mexico, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Paul Riveria / Archphoto
Museo del Acero Horno 3, Monterrey, Mexico, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Paul Riveria / Archphoto

Skills to Pursue and Maintain

“Better business/money management; better understanding of my potential as an entrepreneur and how to apply that potential.”

“I wish I had taken more art/rendering/graphic design courses to be able to design more creatively and produce a finer end product.”

“If I could change anything, it would be that I would have kept up my sketching skills.”

“I wish I would have done my undergraduate degree in LA.”

“I didn’t get licensed to be a RLA, and while I manage projects with LAs and supervise a couple, I wish I had more technical skills and stayed more involved in actual design.”

Opportunities Wanted

“Having more opportunities for internships.”

“Leadership training earlier on in my career.”

“Having more opportunities to do planting plans and grading plans.”

“Apply for the Rome Prize.”

“More money for public sector LA-related parts of projects. Lack of funding for streetscape amenities and ecological restoration is a problem.”

“More opportunities for creativity.”

“More opportunities to travel and study landscape styles in foreign countries.”

At the start of 2014, a questionnaire was sent out to members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). The theme: career paths in landscape architecture. As you can imagine, responses were varied, and included many insightful comments and suggestions. Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND over the course of 2014, and we are now re-posting this information here on The Field. For the latest updates on the results of the annual PPN Survey, see LAND’s PPN News section.

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