January 25, 2019 Making the Most of Winter Break

Winter break: a time to relax, catch up on TV shows, hang out with friends and family, and even network with professionals and gain experience. At least, for a few of our Landscape Architecture students, it is.

Ten students in the School of Landscape Architecture spent their winter break completing externships across the country. From our home here in Knoxville to “The Big Apple” of New York City and the winter wonderland of Denver, Colorado, our students gained valuable professional experience.

Externships are short-term internships, typically between the span of one week and one month, where students visit a firm or office to shadow, observe and work with professionals. They normally occur during winter or spring break.

During their externships, students spent 1-2 weeks over the break gaining exposure to a firm’s processes and projects. For a lot of these students, an externship is also an opportunity to explore what it’s like to live and work in a new city.

Alexa Macri, who externed with Landworks in Salem, Massachusetts, explained how valuable this experience was for her.

Student rendering from externship

“This opportunity only better prepares me for the professional world and the expectations associated with working at a highly-regarded and respected firm,” explained Macri. “This was my third externship so far in the MLA program, and these opportunities have diversified my resume, having been able to work with firms that range in size, portfolio and organizational structure.”

Sue with hardhat in Denver

Sue Choi, who worked with Civitas in Denver, explained that one of the most insightful parts of her externship experience was learning the day-to-day operations of a firm. Opportunities like this allows students to explore the size of firms and scales of projects they enjoy working with prior to their full-time job search.

Sam Irwin worked with Firma in Nashville, where he was able to connect with UT alumna, Sarah Newton (M.LARCH, ’17). Like Choi, he agrees about the value of experiencing day-to-day life inside a firm.

Drawing on student desk

“During my time at Firma, I participated in a wide variety of learning opportunities, including construction documentation, redline sessions and site visits,” said Irwin. “This experience gave me insight to how an actual landscape architecture firm operates, and I’m certain that I will carry the lessons I learned into my professional career.”

The students stated that most of these opportunities came about with the help and connections of Gale Fulton, director of the School of Landscape Architecture. “After three years of connecting students and firms, many of the same firms now sign on to automatically accept a UT student as a winter extern,” stated Macri.

Other students who participated in winter externships include Danny Rose, SCAPE in New York City; Chloe Reeves, Snohetta in New York City; Hank Mary, Reed Hilderbrand in Boston; Elizabeth Ellis, WMWA in Chattanooga; Wyatt Pless, PORT Urbanism in Chicago; Dustin Toothman, Sanders Pace in Knoxville; Dylan Bagnasco, NBW in Charlottesville, VA.

Students in the Master of Landscape Architecture program interested in a winter break or spring break externship should contact Gale Fulton, gfulton@utk.edu.