With the 41st National Collegiate Landscape Competition well under way, students and landscaping companies were eager to network with each other at the Career Fair on Thursday, March 16.
Some landscaping companies were industry giants like BrightView, some have been coming for years like Gothic Landscape and others hosted booths for the first time like Par 3 Landscape Management.
Each company was looking for something slightly different and for some students, NCLC’s Career Fair was an opportunity to see what all the green industry has to offer jobwise.
“I came to see the vast opportunities,” said Tami Byler, a horticulture student from Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas. “You don’t want to compartmentalize yourself. This is a good place to see all the avenues you can go down.”
This is the first time Tarrant County College has attended the event and Byler says it has definitely been a learning experience.
Some companies have a harder time attracting students due to their locations and high living expenses but they still find the event worthwhile. Gothic Landscape has offices in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, and Sandi Malmquist, director of human resources, says it can sometimes be a harder sell to students.
“We’re always interested in young talent,” Malmquist said. “The company is 35 years old so we need young people in the future to take over. We have seven modules we put them through and it helps prepare them for the field.”
Par 3 Landscape Management is based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and came to its first NCLC to look for a couple of account managers. Par 3 Landscape Management offers water management and does a lot of design and maintenance for hotels.
“We have had some success recruiting at BYU but we don’t want to just rely on BYU, so we came here to establish some relationships,” said David Jaramillo, vice president of finance at Par 3. “We’re offering internships pushing towards a full-time position.”
Meanwhile, a couple booths down, Bachman’s Landscaping based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was looking for landscape designers. Bachman’s services include interior and exterior landscaping, garden maintenance and garden retail.
The company recruits at a lot of career fairs and colleges and offers internships.
“I think it’s great,” said Danielle Massa with Bachman’s, about NCLC’s Career Fair. “Staying in front of the students is really important and talking about the career paths that are open to them.”
Certain students came to the Career Fair with a specific plan in mind like Seth Anderson, a landscape contracting major from Mississippi State University.
Anderson first heard about NCLC last year when his university hosted the event. He spent his time looking for companies that wanted to talk about internships, specifically those that involve irrigation.
“Water is critical,” Anderson said. “I want to be on the forefront of water management.”
Anderson doesn’t have an exact plan for what he wants to do after he graduates, but he does want to own his own company eventually.
Companies like The Greenery Inc. based in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and Longwood Gardens based in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania discussed internship opportunities and duration with students, whether it be three months or a year.
Boreal Property Management sees NCLC’s Career Fair as prime prospect for finding educated employees. Boreal Property Management is based in Jackson, Wyoming, and is a full-service landscaping company.
“We’re trying to change the mentality that landscaping is a blue-collar job,” said Drew Weesen, project manager with Boreal Property Management. “There’s a science component that customers don’t even grasp.”
One thing that is sure, no student who attends the Career Fair could leave feeling they won’t be able to find a job after they graduate. The companies present were just a sliver of those hungry for passionate workers like the ones attending NCLC.