Periodically the Landscape Architecture Program highlights students in the program to show potential students as well as industry professionals the background of our students and why they choose this profession and more specifically why they choose UCLA Extension. We are starting 2020 off with one of our recent graduates Nick Tom, here is what he has to say.
Why did you choose UCLA Extension to study Landscape Architecture? I choose UCLA extension because I was looking for a program that had a hands on approach and one where I could learn skills that could be directly used in the profession. All of the instructors are professionals in the field, meaning they truly understand what it is like to develop a career in landscape architecture. They have so many past experiences that they are able to share with their students.
What drew you to the landscape architecture profession? I was drawn to landscape architecture because it combines a variety of my interests including drawing, sustainability, environmental science, and design. With the growing environmental industry I saw that I could best utilize my interests in landscape architecture.
What was your favorite course in the program and why? I enjoyed many of the courses but I really enjoyed the beginning design courses where I could experiment with my drawing techniques. I have always loved using pencils and markers and it is amazing how much you can communicate with a drawing.
Who was your favorite instructor in the program and why? One of my favorite instructors was Jim Pickel. He is very knowledgeable about all aspects of the profession since he has many years of experience. Jim always provided constructive criticism that I could use to better my projects. At the end of the day he is there so that we can produce the best work that we can and Jim has always led me on the right track when I needed assistance.
Are you currently working? If so, where and what are you doing? I recently got an offer for a position as a landscape architect for the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works. I am super excited to be able to apply the skills that I learned in school to my career.
If the phone rang right now and someone offered you your dream job, what would it be? I couldn’t be more thankful to have received a job with the City of Los Angeles and I have always wanted to serve the public because I think that it would allow me to make the most impact and improve the place that I have always called home.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I see myself becoming a licensed landscape architect and likely I will still be working for the city.
Who is your favorite Landscape architect or designer? Any specific site or project? I am really amazed by Playa Vista Central Park, designed by OJB (The Office of James Burnett). It is a modern park that incorporates a lot of native landscape materials and integrates the adjacent offices. It also provides a bandshell which holds concerts during the summer; I love exploring this park.
What advice would you give incoming students? For incoming students, I would tell them those that chose the program to really appreciate the time you have to just learn and experiment. There is a lot of information to take in and you can only find out what works and what doesn’t by giving it a try.
Did the UCLA Extension Certificate Program provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to start working in the industry? For me the graphic and technical skills are exactly what are needed for the industry. Putting CAD packages together is especially important for the profession and I feel like UCLA extension really prepares you for the whole process.