NEWS | MLA students share stories of local and international summer internships
Many students in the Master of Landscape Architecture program completed a variety of diverse internships over the summer, some in Tucson with local firms, some across the country, and a few on the other side of the globe. A few of these students chose to share details of their internships, which connected them with professionals in the field and potential future careers.
Amy Webb, Norris Design - Tucson, Arizona
Amy Webb, third year Master of Landscape Architecture student and Student ASLA president, interned at Norris Design in Tucson this summer and was able to work on a broad range of projects. Webb knew she wanted to stay in Tucson after graduation, so she started making connections with local landscape architecture firms as well as government and non-profit organizations in landscape architecture and related fields early in her academic career. Her first connection with Norris Design was during a portfolio day event at the college, and she chose to strengthen that connection by participating in Shadow Day at the firm, during which she spent a day shadowing members of their design team. After establishing and strengthening this relationship, Norris invited her to intern with them over the summer.
Over the course of the internship she took part in projects for parks, streetscapes, and commercial buildings. She was able to sharpen her skills in AutoCAD, planting design, and construction details as well as learn more about the design process in an office atmosphere.
This summer internship has turned into a part-time job that carried over into the school year, and her responsibilities have steadily increased as she learns more and their confidence in her grows. She works on all phases of a design, from concepts to plans. Webb advises students to become comfortable with their hand drawing and concept sketch skills; she has found them essential for quickly communicating an idea to a boss, client, or subcontractor. She also recommends to students that they make connections in the community and strengthen those connections whenever possible, because professional relationships lead to opportunities.
Andre Rioux, SWA Group - Houston, Texas
Third year Master of Landscape Architecture student Andre Rioux joined other graduate student interns from Harvard, Penn State, City College of New York, and UC Berkeley to complete a summer internship at the SWA Group in Houston. Half of the internship was devoted to conducting research and the other half to creating designs for Port Houston. Research was focused on investigating opportunities for urbanism and ecological tourism along the Houston Ship Channel.
Rioux and the other interns met with Port Houston to understand the challenges and goals for the Port Houston property and the Houston Ship Channel. They noted a lack of interaction between the city and the port as well as a lack of shoreline access for Houston residents. The waterway itself experiences significant silting that needs to be regularly dredged. In response to these issues, Rioux created a map of intermodal terminal accessibility and investigated and proposed alternate possibilities for how the dredged material might be better utilized. SWA was able to use the work of Rioux and his colleagues in meetings with Port Houston, and has continued a conversation with them about a master plan project that could take shape in the future.
Working with SWA provided Andrew with the opportunity to be exposed to many facets of landscape architecture. SWA held high expectations for interns to be self-directed, and co-operative among each other. The most valuable skill Andre gained while there was to be a self-starter, while operating as a group. His favorite part of the internship was discovering that his education focusing on arid landscapes at the University of Arizona translated perfectly to working in a gulf coastal prairie region environment.
Rahul Tuladhar, World Wildlife Fund of Nepal - Kathmandu, Nepal
Last summer, Rahul Tuladhar, MS Planning and Master of Landscape Architecture student, was able to realize a long-held dream to work on wildlife conservation in his home country of Nepal. Rahul worked as a Geographic Information Systems Intern with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) of Nepal, on both GIS and remote sensing projects. He helped the WWF work towards the achievement of their 10-year Strategic Action Plan for the Terai Arc Landscape. Tuladhar was also able to advance his Master’s thesis project, Restoring Connectivity along Critical Corridors in the Terai Arc Landscape, Nepal, through his internship experience and used his research interests as a starting point for connecting with the WWF of Nepal. He advises students to make connections to professionals in their field of interest by first having a reason to connect with them and establishing a relationship based on shared interests or research goals.
Over the course of the internship,Tuladhar analyzed land cover and land use using satellite imagery and GIS data and evaluated the accuracy of imagery based on ground truthing and field verified data. He prepared habitat and corridor models to illustrate areas of habitat connectivity. In addition, Tuladhar assisted with the preparation of a Google Earth Manual and completed data management for household surveys. He feels very fortunate to have had an opportunity to learn new software for imagining, modeling and data analysis and to have additional practice in report writing.
Yuheng Zhang, Shanghai Landscape Architecture Design Institute - Shanghai, China
Yuheng Zhang (Angel), a third year Master of Landscape Architecture student, interned at the Shanghai Landscape Architecture Design Institute (SLADI). She was responsible for supporting designers with AutoCAD drawings, concept plan generation, master plan design, SketchUp model generation, hand drawing, and report assembly.
The main projects to which she contributed were a landscape design for the city of Luohe in Henan province, a design for the wedge green area renovation in Lingang New City, and a design for the Nantong Botanical Garden.
Zhang’s internship opportunity began in the same way it did for many other students, by first establishing a connection with someone at the firm. She began by reaching out to one of her undergraduate professors and told him about her coursework at the University of Arizona and her future plans to work as a landscape architect. He put Zhang in contact with another one of his former students (an employee at SLADI) which then led to the internship opportunity. Her advice to students is to “always enhance yourself” by reading, studying other designers’ drawings and ideas, practicing your skills, and focusing on self-improvement.
Elliott Bartels, Garden Gate and Ensign Design - Tucson and Oro Valley, Arizona
Elliott Bartels, third year Master of Landscape Architecture student, completed two simultaneous internships over the summer, at Ensign Design LLC in Tucson and The Garden Gate in Oro Valley. He served as an assistant landscape architect and planner in both positions, and worked with certified landscape architects and engineers, and led crews of construction teams. At The Garden Gate, he worked in sales and private residential design. He participated in larger public projects with Ensign Design, such as planting, irrigation, and master planning projects for resorts, neighborhoods, and parks for the Town of Sahuarita.
Bartels landed the internships through a combination of cold-calls and shared connections. He wanted to stay in town over the summer, so he began reaching out to local businesses in which he was interested and found a position working for Garden Gate early in the summer. Landscape architecture professor Margaret Livingston introduced Bartels to Yvette Ensign shortly thereafter, who hired him as her assistant. He worked both jobs over the summer and continues both part-time during the school year.
Bartels was able to gain a lot of technical experience with AutoCAD in both positions, and found himself working side by side with a variety of other professionals. He helped to lead construction crews after designing residential spaces, gaining valuable leadership experience he hopes to use as a project manager someday. He enjoyed being able to work with real clients and getting to see a project move from the initial phases of design to final construction.