The education process landscape architecture students follow is a blend of classroom study, studio design work, historical context interplay with current standards provided by intensive study of past work through slides, photos, and other exhibits, and internships. At Meeks Design Group, we take pride in working with students in our internship program every year.
Internship involves the student working directly with a professional landscape architect, in an office setting. Required by most schools, these internships range from 6 month studies abroad, to 3 and 6 month programs with local or regional landscape firms. The student is introduced to the day to day operations of a real firm by: working with the team leader on current projects, learning to work with understand and interpret city and state codes, participate in design work, and complete details, redlines, and other various and sundry drawing items. The full scope of the day to day work handled by a full time designer is offered for the student to see, question, and learn from.
For the firm, the internship program provides a range of benefits. One benefit is having a staff member to produce the final drawing packages. This includes the drawing/compiling of details, completing the redline process all drawings go through, and the other tasks that are the baseline tasks for each project. While these tasks may seem mundane, they are uniquely valuable in the instructional process for the student. Teaching how a design goes from a schematic line drawing, through the presentation stage, all the way through detailing to responses to RFI’s and ASI’s. This is an incredibly critical element of the profession that is rarely touched on in the school setting.
Also of importance to the firm is more of a thought process than a real production one. Providing the guidance, teaching new skills and understandings of the depth of the profession, is a responsibility the Landscape Architect and the professional firm should never take lightly. To guarantee the continued excellence of the future landscape architect, the professional must share the knowledge learned through years of practice. Without this exposure, the student will come into the profession blind to the realities of the tasks that are to be undertaken, with the potential for the new professional becoming discouraged with what is so totally different than the school setting provides as to lead them to leaving the profession. It is imperative for the firm to provide this important element schools are not equipped to provided.
Finally, this is a tremendous opportunity to get the firm name out to potential new staff. Introducing the students to who your firm is, what your firm does, what you offer as salary and benefits, thus leading to the best and brightest coming to you for employment opportunities. New ideas and skill sets are the lifeblood of any firm, especially with the technology improvements being seen in the production of the final product. Hiring a new graduate often sparks the staff to look at new ideas, new materials, and new ways to solve old problems as they introduce the new staff into the work process.
Internship is a uniquely valuable part of the landscape architecture office. Students learn the real work while getting paid. They then go back to school with a better understanding of the profession they will soon be a real part of. The firm has young staff to handle many of the more routine tasks, has access to new computer skills, and welcomes new ideas and energy into the firm. It is a benefit to all involved, helping to maintain the high standards of the profession. Over the last year we have housed four interns and look forward to keeping our doors open for more interns in the future.