On Tuesday, January 17th we had the opportunity to talk with Shawn Balon with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) over webinar. Our discussion focussed in part on Shawn’s career track as well as the work done by ASLA. Landscape architecture is a broad field made up of a diverse body of individual practitioners – and Shawn’s background shows that. Having experience in private and public sectors, large and small firms, and a palette of projects types, Shawn’s career demonstrates the level of professional possibility that exists in the discipline whose media is the land itself. Having worked in a variety of firms, Shawn was able to share insight into the pros and cons of certain working environments. He mentioned that his experience lead him to prefer the work he was able to do in the public sector. Most importantly, he was able to provide a key take away: its okay not to know where you want to end up. As a graduating student Shawn settled into a large firm that was able to provide mentorship and stability. However, as his career progressed he had the opportunity to travel to other countries, work at other scales, and discover what he truly wanted his career to become.
As one of several professional bodies related to landscape architecture, it is ASLA’s mission and responsibility to keep informed on and promote the field both internally and externally. I personally was not aware of the extent of the resources available through ASLA from online learning webinars and courses to professional practice networks. ASLA makes a directed and intentional effort to communicate with its members through multiple forms of media as well, including email, social media, and the Landscape Architecture Magazine which promotes high quality design projects and ideas in and related to the profession.