Aaron Parson graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Horticulture with an emphasis in design/build/maintain
Aaron Parson, a graduate of BYU-I Horticulture, found his way to Stonington, Connecticut where he works at a landscape architecture firm called Cummin Associates, Inc. After graduating in 2005 he went on to attend University of Idaho to attain his second bachelor’s and a master’s in Landscape Architecture. Nearing the end of his master’s program Aaron applied to 20 different firms he was interested in. It boiled down to two different firms who flew him out for an interview with one offering him the job. After gaining some experience designing communities and resorts, he switched gears and started working for a different company with a bigger variety of design services that included parks, residential, businesses, and park trails. Aaron had heard that Cummin Associates, Inc. was looking for a landscape architect and did some research on the company; Aaron was thoroughly impressed. Cummin Associates specializes in estate properties. Out of 150 portfolios Aaron was handpicked and flown out to interview. Needless to say Aaron got the job! Aaron designs everything from outdoor living spaces to swimming pools right down to custom iron and bronze handrails, gates, and hinges. “I design everything from what plant materials to plant all the way to what color of grout to use between paving stones.” There is quite a bit of communication daily between him and the landscape contractors, stone masons, general contractors, architects, nurseries, outdoor lighting techs, and the representatives of the owners to make sure everything goes smoothly and stays on task. He also shows up to the site to watch progress and offer suggestions, “I believe there are many solutions to every problem and when you learn to work together, the end project will always be the best.” One of the things that has an effect on your job is the atmosphere and work environment, and they are so different for everyone “There is so much that I love about my job and work environment. Our office is about 100 yards from the ocean so I get to see the ocean every morning and evening. During summer months, I come to work in sandals, shorts, and T-shirt. My co-workers are great to work with - very talented and good people. My boss Peter Cummin is from England and is an amazing designer. He has worked his whole life very honestly and people love him for it. My work environment is positive and friendly. The work we perform is in a league of its own. Our attention to detail is one of a kind.[…] I've done projects all over Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, and England. Before coming to Cummin Associates, I used to tell people I designed high-end residential. It is no comparison to what we do now.”
Here is some advice Aaron offers to students in the program:
If you are close to Graduation:
· Work hard and pray hard. I have been blessed to work where I am specifically because the Lord wanted us here. I really don't think I am more talented than the next person. The Church needs to grow out here and that's why I think we were placed here in Connecticut.
· Seek the Lord first and He will bless you.
· Put together a good portfolio. Only show your best projects. Apply to every job that is hiring even if you may not want to work at that particular company. The truth is you need to get a job to support a family and it may not be as glamorous as you have dreamed yet, but you have to start somewhere. Let your classmates, teachers, friends, neighbors give you a critique on your portfolio - get as many eyes on it as you can so you can get feedback.
· Don't expect to get your dream job with dream pay right out of college - it may take a while.
· By this point, I would expect students who are graduating to already have experienced an internship, real life work, and other experiences that show their interest in what they want to do for their life's work.
If you are just starting the Program:
· BYU-I is the best horticulture program in the nation. One of its strengths are the opportunities professors provide to get involved physically with what they are designing. Get your hands dirty and become physically involved with your design material. Learn how to lay pavers, lay stone, build walls, plant trees and shrubs, design and install irrigation systems, learn what it takes to maintain landscapes. The best designers are the ones who understand the material - they know what works and what doesn't
· Pay attention in class - ask your teachers many questions and pay attention to the answers
· Work hard on your assignments - you've got to spend more time outside of class working and learning than during class
· Keep good notes and preserve them for the future - you will refer to them again and again
· Spend the summer working at a landscaping firm - DON'T go working for a Pest Control or Security company!!!
· Do your own case studies on projects and companies you admire - get on the phone (don't text or email) and talk to professionals and ask them what they are looking for in new hires - then, work your guts out to acquire those attributes.
· Practice designing by hand every class assignment you are given. Once you figure out things by hand, move to the computer if needed
· In my opinion, students need to learn Auto CAD. Dynascape is a good program but limited in so many ways. In the big picture, most of the design world has never heard of Dynascape. Talk to the teachers about getting CAD and start designing with it. I was at a big disadvantage when I graduated because I did not know CAD
· Other programs to learn are Photoshop and InDesign.
· Look at and buy a lot of books with photos of good design - use them as precedent images to inspire design - you can learn a lot from those who have gone before
Our aim for the Department of Horticulture at Brigham Young University-Idaho is to nurture understanding of both the art and science of Horticulture. Students learn experimentally in the classroom, laboratory, greenhouse, and ten acre Thomas E. Ricks demonstration garden as they pursue an Associates or Bachelors Degree. Using the medium of plants, students develop habits of hard work, enlightened minds, and healthy living that assist in gainful employment opportunitues.