Tom Walker, an Ambassador for Landscape, linked up with Matt Northall, a landscape architecture student from Leeds Beckett University to promote the profession at a careers evening.
What school did you go to?
We attended a careers evening at St Aidan’s Church of England High School – a very large school in Harrogate that has a combined Sixth Form with St Johns Fishers School, creating one the largest Sixth Forms in the country. The school has achieved a very good academic and pastoral care record.
What did your stall consist of?
We took along two pop-up banners, specifically produced for the event, which focused on the Landscape Institutes’ ‘Be a Landscape Architect’ headline as well as showcasing a number of Gillespies’ landscape projects and specifically focusing on projects from the north region. We also provided students and parents with a series of leaflets and information from the Landscape Institute along with some examples of students’ landscape design work from Leeds Beckett University. I was accompanied by Matt Northall, a third year Landscape Architect student from Leeds Beckett University. The pairing of a senior and young representative worked really well as it offered parents and students two alternate perspectives. Matt appealed to the younger students who were interested in the course, and the parents gravitated towards me to discuss my career.
What did you do?
The careers fair ran for three hours in the evening and it was very easy to engage with parents and students as they walked around. We probably had about 35 people stop to talk to us, which was great because we really got the chance to connect with people. This careers event focused on science – St Aidan’s alternate between Science and the Arts and Humanities – so we attended the event to promote a profession that is both a science and an art. The reaction from some students who were asked the question: “Are you interested in a career as a landscape architect?” was very interesting.
A number of students who were more interested in scientific and mathematical subjects seemed alarmed by the prospect of a career in landscape, but when we engaged with most people in that way, we had some very positive responses. The event was not exclusively for sixth form students and so we also talked to a number of Year 9 students who were visiting the event to provide them with GSCE choices. It wasn’t just an event for students who already knew where they were heading on their career path, but offered an insight into the options available for students who had no idea what they wanted to do.
What engaged people most?
We had a PowerPoint presentation on loop showing images of Gillespies’ landscape projects and data provided by the LI. We believed this would be the biggest attraction to our stall, but interestingly enough, our presence in front of the pop-up banners was the biggest draw. I think next time we could also provide a small token for students to take away – perhaps a badge or bag.
Why did you sign up as an Ambassador for Landscape?
I’ve been a member of the Leeds Beckett University Professional Review Group for seven years and I have chaired the panel for four, so I have been acutely aware of the issue of decreasing student applications at Leeds Beckett University. I decided to become an Ambassador for Landscape to help promote the industry, and to make students and parents more aware of the course as well as the benefits of pursuing a career in landscape. I signed up to this particular event as my son attends St Aiden’s Church of England School, so I wanted to support the school. And finally, because I enjoy being able to talk to people about what I do and what we do at Gillespies.
Matt Northall, landscape architecture student at Leeds Beckett University:
“I believe that career events such as this one are an excellent opportunity for the Landscape Institute to raise professional awareness, and promote landscape architecture as a career option to those about to select their A-Levels or progress to higher education. It was great to have both myself (a student representative) and Tom promoting landscape architecture; inviting students and their parents to learn about landscape architecture as a career.”
Edwin Knighton, course leader at Leeds Beckett University:
“Landscape architects involvement at these sort of careers events is so vital to the future of our profession. It’s all about getting our message across to talented teenagers – for many of them it will be the first time they will have heard of landscape architecture. The active partnership between practice and education is so important if we are to inspire young talent into such a fantastic profession.”