Nonprofit organizations have not been immune to the economic downturn, especially those dependent on donations. However, it appears that an increasing number of landscape architecture graduates in this region (New York) are finding jobs in the nonprofit sector. J. Lyons (MLA 2009) reports that there are “green shoots” in her professional niche in the “In the Field” excerpt below.
I’ve been seeing a lot of green shoots, mostly because I’m working in an environmental/sustainability field, and these movements finally seem to be becoming more of the norm and less fringe. I’m sadly grant funded, but, where many of my colleagues who are not in the environmental field are getting program cuts, I’ve been able to take advantage of a wide range of funding opportunities to expand programs. I honestly feel like we’re in the midst of a very hasty and significant paradigm shift because of the combination of pressing environmental and economic concerns.
The emerging areas are definitely “green infrastructure”, sustainable agriculture, and regional community planning that integrates rural and urban systems (food/agriculture and energy).
We’ve hired a handful of people in the last few months, and regardless of program and function – we look for an ability to be interdisciplinary, applied experience instead of pure academic experience, and self-directed inquiry and problem solving.
My advice is to volunteer! Students and graduates need to show that they are constantly engaged and involved, inquisitive and proactive. If someone can’t find a design job right away, seek out a job that is interesting and find a way to design in your free time – volunteer or do design competitions. I feel like things are moving very quickly and evolving rapidly (do I sound like an old fogey already?) so adaptability, gumption and perseverance seem to be key.