30 July 2011


I've finished two weeks a the GCCDS, which means I've received my first paycheck.  Go me!  I'm earning money now!  Too bad most of it's going to pay bills.....

The past two weeks have gone by quickly, but there have been a few distinct moments from Day One to Paycheck.  My first day was a rush:  I spent the morning with my new boss, let's call him "el Jefe," and various smaller groups of my co-workers talking about the various projects I'll be working on.  After that, el Jefe left on a two-week vacation, and I haven't seen him since that first day.  Kind of strange to start a job without a boss, but it's been nice in terms of getting used to the place without the added pressure of a direct supervisor. 

I spent that first afternoon working on a site plan for our Bayou Auguste project.  That's the project that's been taking up the majority of my time.  The first few days I was doing digital design work, so after a while the thought crossed my mind, "Wait a second, I'm doing exactly what I was doing in college, and I didn't really like doing it then.  Shit.  How did that happen?"  And to Ball State's credit, it really was just like college, or maybe college was just like work?  We work in a studio much like the ones at CAP, everyone works on their own projects, and we frequently assemble to discuss our progress.  It turns out my education did prepare me for the workplace.  Who knew?  Anyway, the more I thought about the similarities the more uncomfortable I got.  And then I had a wonderful realization:  No!  This is exactly different from college!  I'm getting paid to be here!  Not the other way around! 

After that my perception of working in the "real world" dramatically shifted.  And the next day so did the nature of my work.  It turns out I've spent around half of my working time outside or at least out of the office the past two weeks.  And I think that's how it's going to be. 

Remember the bayou project I mentioned?  Well, we don't have a contractor building the structures, which means I get to be onsite doing construction.  I'm thrilled.  I've been building gabions, hauling crushed concrete, and digging trenches for a wall structure we're putting in.  For the most part it's been me and two others doing the work, though this past week we had several volunteers come to help.  I couldn't be happier with this aspect of my job.  Seriously, it's great.

And I have to mention another great aspect of my job: the registered landscape architect, who will be called Ustaadh.  Ustaadh is a great teacher-- he's brought me to all of his project sites and he's started teaching me Mississippi's plant palette.  He even requested a detour on the way back from a meeting in New Orleans to take the interns and me to an arboretum.  When he introduces me to clients or partners, he refers to me as the studio's new landscape architect, which is technically not true.  You see, until I'm licensed I can't legally call myself a landscape architect; however, it can be a bit tricky to eloquently explain to people what it is that I do without using the words "landscape architect," though I do my best.  Some RLAs get really protective of their title, and while I can't blame them, I really appreciate that Ustaadh isn't like that.  It makes being around him and learning from him very relaxing.