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Thread: Help (Choice between internship and immediately going to grad school)

  1. #1
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    Help (Choice between internship and immediately going to grad school)

    I will be graduating in May with a B.A. my plan after college was originally to go to grad school for urban planning. I applied to schools and got in so far at Columbia and UWashington.
    Here is my dilemma: I was also accepted to do a year long internship at a University owned arboretum. This position would entail weekly lessons in which I would receive graduate credit. I would also work on a large independent research project. Additionally, I would learn a great deal about about ornamental plants (ID, culture, pruning, climbing, planting, diseases, dichotomus keys, etc) and work in the gardens a great deal.
    The part I am worried about is I am not sure how much this will benefit me in planning. (I want to work designing park spaces) Also, I am concerned that I won't get accepted to the schools I applied to again next year.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I say take the internship and look for a landscape architecture graduate program, as opposed to planning.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    take the internship, assuming the work is something you're interested in. the experience will only make you a stronger candidate next year.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by treeplanner View post
    I will be graduating in May with a B.A. my plan after college was originally to go to grad school for urban planning. I applied to schools and got in so far at Columbia and UWashington.
    Here is my dilemma: I was also accepted to do a year long internship at a University owned arboretum. This position would entail weekly lessons in which I would receive graduate credit. I would also work on a large independent research project. Additionally, I would learn a great deal about about ornamental plants (ID, culture, pruning, climbing, planting, diseases, dichotomus keys, etc) and work in the gardens a great deal.
    The part I am worried about is I am not sure how much this will benefit me in planning. (I want to work designing park spaces) Also, I am concerned that I won't get accepted to the schools I applied to again next year.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
    My undergrad is in hort. That stuff will only help you in plan review when you see how horribly most LArchs design the landscape and you tell them to do it over because their plants won't work. Or if you go into EnvPlanning and somehow you are lucky enough to mitigate an urban brownfield. If you want that education so much, a couple junior college hort classes will get you ID and culture and pruning equivalent to your arb internship.

    Or if you are more interested in natural sciences than social sciences, you may want to work at the arb. But it will only help on occasion, it won't make you a better planner overall, because you likely won't get an opportunity to be in a community that will allow re-zoning to be more in tune with nature.

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I agree with btrage--based on your interests I tend to think LA is more consistent with your goals.

    Ignoring that, have you looked into deferring entrance to grad school? I think many programs would allow you to do so for up to a year, particularly since you would be participating in an internship/independent study that could further strengthen your performance in their program. Also, that particular internship would look good on a landscape architecture program application--you'd be surprised how many landscape architects there are that lack the ability to do the level of plant identification you'll be capable of. When you are working with existing natural areas, like parks, plant identification can be a critical issue. ColoGI makes an important observation: I can't count how many times I've seen LA's put plant selections on a plan that are completely inappropriate for the location, climate, maintenance needs and type of use it is associated with. My favorite was a dog park plan that was covered in various plants that produced poisonous berries/foliage. His excuse was that they smelled good to cover up the smell of dog poop.

    The internship sounds like an excellent opportunity for practical/hands-on experience, and the tone of your post seems to indicate you are really interested and excited about the intership--moreso than graduate school. The internship will only enhance future applications.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    If your interest is in designing park spaces, then such an internship would be beneficial and I believe graduate schools would see value in that. Planning is one of those professions that attracts people with very diverse educations and backgrounds. Don't limit your chance for education because you are concerned with a what-if.

    This is an opportunity, not a possible stumbling block.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    What is your BA in? Sounds like you'd be on a good path to go for a Masters in Landscape Architecture after this internship. Planners don't necessarily design park spaces - in my experience the design work has gone to the LArch crowd, while a planner may play the role of overall project administrator but not get to do the hands-on design work. Good luck.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Take the internship. As other as said, it sounds like Landscape Architecture is where you want to be. The "landscrapers" are imo the jack of all trades from designing, construction management, to good space planners. If i had to do it again, that's where I probably end up.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  9. #9
    I'm with btrage and the others. Getting a planning degree from Columbia is perfect if you want to revisit these forums in two years and join the chorus of "now im out of grad school where is the work lol" questions.

  10. #10
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    thanks

    I really appreciate all of the advice. To answer a few questions
    My undergrad is double major in environmental studies and urban studies
    I thought a great deal about applying to grad school for a MLA, but in the end decided against it because I did not feel confident enough with the drawing and computer programs used to design. I felt there would be much more need for this as a landscape architect than in urban planning. perhaps my thoughts are wrong?
    Again I really appreciate everyone's input

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by treeplanner View post
    I really appreciate all of the advice. To answer a few questions
    My undergrad is double major in environmental studies and urban studies
    I thought a great deal about applying to grad school for a MLA, but in the end decided against it because I did not feel confident enough with the drawing and computer programs used to design. I felt there would be much more need for this as a landscape architect than in urban planning. perhaps my thoughts are wrong?
    Again I really appreciate everyone's input
    You likely won't need AutoCAD or Revit for planning, but you will use lighter graphics programs and perhaps even some light design programs (eg SketchUp). You will need to be adept at Excel, Adobe products, maybe ArcGIS and others. So don't assume you won't need as many technical skills. You just won't be doing as much design work.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by treeplanner View post
    I really appreciate all of the advice. To answer a few questions
    My undergrad is double major in environmental studies and urban studies
    I thought a great deal about applying to grad school for a MLA, but in the end decided against it because I did not feel confident enough with the drawing and computer programs used to design. I felt there would be much more need for this as a landscape architect than in urban planning. perhaps my thoughts are wrong?
    Again I really appreciate everyone's input
    I can tell you if you know the tiniest thing about plants, you'll be far, far, far, far, far ahead of the typical graduate from the typical MLA program. Most programs don't teach plant knowledge any more. Sad but true. But typical hiring firms don't care about plant knowledge, either.

    What hasn't been mentioned is that after graduating if you go right in, likely you'll have trouble finding a job. There is a small chance that delaying for a year then graduating three years from now there might be some jobs out there, so your chances are a couple % better if you delay. Any work experience will help you, but working in an arb won't give you much specific knowledge to help you in planning (except, as I said, to see that the LArchs muffed up the plant palette).

    And the software concern is the least of your worries. You can practice on that. Not a problem.

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