I didn’t know much about the profession of landscape architecture before starting my masters. When it came to choosing an undergraduate degree, Geography seemed like a sensible choice. I felt that, given the breadth of study necessary within a Geography degree, I would find a specialism that would appeal to me. I struggled to find something relating to geography that I wanted to pursue and so I graduated from the University of Sheffield with BSc (Hons) Geography in 2016 and had no idea where to go next.
On graduating, I started my career in retail and worked for three years in various roles including admin and marketing before making the decision to head back to university to study a masters. The only thing I was sure of was that pursuing a career that allowed me to make a real difference in the world was the right path for me. I applied for several different courses, ranging from climatology to planning before settling on an MA in Landscape Architecture with a Conversion Year at Birmingham City University. This decision was, in part, attributable to my interest in sustainability; I was becoming more aware of the impacts of humanity’s actions on the planet, and the actions that can be taken to mitigate them.
By the time the masters began, I had been out of education for three years. I was nervous, I didn’t know what to expect. But I was also eager to start something new, learn more and develop a skill set that I could take into the future with me. The intention of the conversion year was to give students the basic skills to undertake the masters. Myself and my peers came from such enormously different backgrounds including photography, geology and fine art. We were all starting at the same level as each other, and between us, we had a range of different skills to learn from and build on.
In early 2020, as I was progressing through my masters, I began my search for a job. My existing contract was coming to an end and so it was the perfect time to move. I handed my details to a landscape architect practice in Birmingham, called Define. It looked to be exactly what I wanted; a personable, passionate and established company, with room to grow both itself and its employees. After a number of subsequent job applications to a range of vacancies, I began to grow despondent. Then I received a phone call from Define. I jumped at the opportunity to interview. I was so apprehensive and yet excited. I had nothing to lose by going for it and the interview was great; it was an opportunity to just sit and chat through work I had done, my ambitions, what I loved and I was elated when I was offered the job of Landscape Assistant.
Why landscape architecture? Landscape architects have the ability to change the world through big and small interventions. We shape places and spaces for people and nature. We can bring benefits for health and wellbeing, tackle climate change, food shortages, equality and many more. The profession brings together everything that I enjoy; the outdoors, green spaces, biodiversity and sustainability, tying these together through design. It is creative, artistic, practical and technical all at the same time. My advice to anyone wanting a career in landscape architecture? Take every opportunity you can to learn and engage.
My colleagues at Define really love what they do. They are passionate about the landscape and people and the changes they can make. Before beginning this journey, I felt stuck, not knowing where I wanted to go, but I researched and researched until I found a career path, a lifestyle that suited me and my interests, that brings together my passions. I learn something new from my colleagues every day and look forward to this continuing for the rest of my career. What you do in this profession can make an impact for the better.