As a senior majoring in landscape contracting in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, Jack Pohutsky has already been actively involved in recruiting for the industry both to high school students as well as undeclared majors at Penn State. He may still be a student but he’s that excited about what the landscape industry has to offer.
Of course, Pohutsky is certainly making the most of his time in college and learning as much as he can before getting his own career started. He has won multiple NALP Foundation scholarships and completed three internships with NALP members—two with Ruppert Landscape and one with R.P. Marzilli. He was the NALP Student Ambassador for LANDSCAPES 2019 and has worked with us to try and reach more young people. He’s currently in the process of trying to obtain funding for a recruiting program that he wants to develop to try and reach even more students.
We recently caught up with Pohutsky to find out more about him and what drives his passion for this industry.
Where did your interest in the lawn and landscape industry begin?
I think it began as a kid, which is probably what a lot of people say. I was a kid who liked being outdoors and working with my hands and building things. I’m also very into design and I can trace some of that back to building dirt bike jumps and tracks.
I like the business development side, too, and like that in this industry you can combine all of those interests.
Another thing that did really help me get to where I am today is my parents and my siblings. I am lucky to have parents who have always really supported me and two older siblings who I really look up to. A lot of times with recruitment you hear about the parents not supporting this career choice and about recruits having to convince their parents they can make a good living doing this. But my parents never questioned this career choice—they saw I was passionate about it and they’ve always supported me.
You have had three internships. What have you enjoyed most about them?
I loved all of my internships. Having had the opportunity to go through all of the different departments of a landscaping firm, I feel I can now appreciate landscaping work from start to finish. Before anyone is in the field doing the work there is an estimator putting in tons of time—and only getting a fraction of that work back. I have a lot of appreciation for that behind-the-scenes work now. Another thing I really liked was how often you interact with other professionals, even from other industries. For instance, while working at Ruppert, I would run into anyone from an electrician to a plumber to a general contactor and it was cool to see how landscaping was such an important piece of a larger project.
What were some of the opportunities your internships provided?
My first internship with Ruppert was after my freshman year. I had found them through the career fair. And I worked in the maintenance branch. I got to complete service and purchase orders, meet with clients, work with subs and see how a successful maintenance division is run. Then, in the summer of 2018 I worked on the construction side of the business, which was totally different. I saw a little more of the business side that summer.
Then, my third internship was with R.P. Marzilli so I went from commercial work to something entirely different: residential work up in the Boston area. We got to work on these gorgeous, multi-million-dollar sites and it was just really high-level and fascinating. Again, I saw a lot of behind-the-scenes work there that made me realize how much goes into making a great company operate. What was incredibly rewarding about that experience was that they wanted to collaborate with me on developing their internship program even further.
How do you feel your internships have prepared you for your future?
I feel like I’m not afraid to graduate because I have a plan . Having attended NCLC, I see other schools are also preparing their students well. I think we are lucky to be in an industry that is actively recruiting—and it’s really to a student’s advantage. This industry has a very prideful “we” culture that is so amazing. I talk to my friends and they have to wait in long lines at these career fairs, but we have these big rooms rented out with lots of companies coming in and everyone is willing to talk to you. It’s really a great time in the industry for people who are looking for jobs. There are some really amazing opportunities out there. I’ve made an effort to get involved with recruiting and tell other students what this industry has to offer.
You were an NALP Student Ambassador at LANDSCAPES this year. What did you learn from that experience?
First of all, I am just so thankful for NALP. They are part of that “we” culture that I talked about.
I really enjoy opportunities such as LANDSCAPES that our industry has to offer a student like me. One thing that was so great about that show is getting to see what’s out there. There are so many external pieces that make up this industry—software, consulting marketing. And when they all come together you see just how big this industry really is. I have also learned that I really love networking. One of the biggest takeaways I learned from this event is that helping others is a passion of mine.
Wherever I end up, I still want to be involved in these types of events. I think building relationships and growing your network is absolutely part of the process of building a successful company. It’s also where I feel most comfortable. I’d also love to be part of a company where I can be involved in onboarding employees. I definitely really enjoy working with others.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now, I’m still job searching. I’m trying to find the best place to foster the career path I’d like to be on. But I’m really excited for what the future holds. Some of my goals include continuing to attend industry events, becoming 100-percent fluent in Spanish and continuing to find opportunities to network both personally and professionally. No matter where I end up, I’d like to continue to be involved in helping the industry grow in whatever way I can.