Interview with Emily Young, Landscape Architect Intern on starting her career at Stantec
As one of the first six students to graduate in Spring 2018 from the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, Emily Young is now building her career as a landscape architect intern with Stantec. Here’s what she has to say about her career, and her advice for students studying environmental design.
What made you want to study landscape architecture?
After earning my Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia, I started my career as an environmental consultant in Calgary, where I focused on wetland assessments and rare plant surveys for four years. The market started to change in 2015, and I thought it was the perfect time to go back to school. I had always been interested in the next stages of a project during construction and in design, so I worked with a career counselor and discovered the profession of landscape architecture. It seemed like it would be a good fit with my background and really exciting going forward.
Why did you choose Stantec when you graduated?
In my previous position, I heard about David Spencer, a principal landscape architect at Stantec, and his work to develop an environmentally sustainable community in Calgary called EcoHaven. I was interested in meeting him. I had also heard about some reputable biologists who were with the company. I thought Stantec would be a great opportunity to bridge the disciplines I’m interested in, and to work with and learn from these highly regarded experts.
What is your favourite project you have worked on since you started at Stantec?
So far, it’s the restoration of Hoodoo Trail at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park in Southern Alberta. I worked directly with our landscape architect lead to assess over two kilometres of trail and identify erosion issues, step failures, and access control issues along the trail. During our site visits, we identified almost 170 areas that needed restoration. As a result, we created standardized solutions that could be applied along the trail and that could be customized for each site. It was a fun summer project!
What do you like best about your career?
I’m excited about my career because I can take it in many different directions. My goal is to become an accredited landscape architect, and maintain my designation as a professional biologist, which is unique in the province. I think that my foundation provides me with a strong set of skills and allows me to bring a different perspective to the table.
What career advice do you have for environmental design students?
Don’t let others choose your career path for you—it’s valuable to know what direction you want to take. Experience new learning opportunities to test out different directions but stay true to your interests and advocate for yourself.
What is your favourite piece of landscape architecture in the world?
The Duisburg Nord Landscape Park in Germany is interesting as it ties in the land’s industrial past to a public area. It was formally a coal and steel production plant so there were significant issues with soil contamination. This project is part of a network of previously contaminated sites that have been transformed and made safe for public use; at the same time, it has kept the bones of its previous industrial heritage. I think it is one of the most interesting parks that has been created in recent years.