Jack Pohusky, a crew leader with R.P. Marzilli & Company, Inc., first heard about the National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC) through Penn State’s Horticulture Club. He attended NCLC in 2018 and 2019, where he visited Alamance Community College and Colorado State University, respectively.
“I was lucky to attend NCLC and experience two wonderful campuses and the surrounding areas,” Pohutsky says.
While he participated in several of the competitions during this event, Pohutsky also took advantage of the career fair held during NCLC.
“The career fair at NCLC is the best career fair a student can attend,” he says. “It may seem a little overwhelming at first, but if you come prepared with your resume and a goal, you quickly realize the potential of this event. You have the opportunity to explore companies from various markets and discover where you best fit in the industry.”
Pohutsky’s main goal at the NCLC career fair was to find a summer internship, but he also wanted to further the PSU Landscape Contracting program’s exposure, develop his industry network, and reconnect with past employers.
“I decided to approach a company’s booth based on research prior to the career fair,” Pohutsky says. “The National Association of Landscape Professionals posted the attending companies and I was able to understand if a particular company aligned with my values and desired career path before attending the career fair.”
He ended up earning internships with Ruppert Landscape and R.P. Marzilli & Company through the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences career fair, but he says the career fair at NCLC was a contributing factor in obtaining these internships. He says these internships helped him decide where he wanted to work after graduation.
“Internships are a chance to learn from industry leaders and tie together formal education with future job opportunities,” he says. “They are a short trial period for both the intern and company. I participated in an internship with R.P. Marzilli & Co. in the summer of 2019 and I have worked full-time with Marzilli since I graduated.”
During his internships, Pohutsky learned not to be afraid to speak up and to display his talents. He says he gained a deeper understanding of business operations and production methods as well. He says internships also alleviated the difficulties of transitioning into the industry after graduating.
Pohutsky encourages landscape companies to participate in the career fair as they will meet hundreds of students in the top programs all under one roof.
“The students are driven, passionate and looking to find their home within the industry,” he says. “You will have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with not only the students, but also their faculty and other top landscape companies.”
He breaks down his tips for landscaping companies wanting to have an effective booth by people, branding and swag. Pohutsky suggests selecting staff that is outgoing, passionate and can discuss all aspects of your business. As for the branding, he says an effective booth has a clean and simple look.
“Invest in a tablecloth with your company name and logo on it and/or a backdrop containing your company’s name and logo, a brief summary of your scope of work, and photos of projects,” Pohutsky says. “From there, you can create an inviting atmosphere with plants, relevant marketing materials and your people. Your brochures should show off your employees, culture, projects, and student opportunities.”
If you have the funds for swag, he suggests picking something that is unique and not easily thrown away.
“Some of the most memorable souvenirs I have received include an air plant kit and a stress ball in the shape of a truck,” he says. “Select industry-related items and include your company name and logo on it. You want to attract students, but not solely with disposable items such as candy that will be eaten and thrown in the garbage.”
Pohutsky says that NCLC is an invaluable event where students can discover their potential, establish their network, find internships and full-time employment and compete in industry-relevant events that may help them find their passion.
This article was published in the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine. To read more stories from The Edge magazine, click here to subscribe to the digital edition.