Jenny Girard

Jenny Girard, area manager of R.M. Landscape, credits building a strong network to her success in the industry.

Jenny Girard
Photo courtesy of Jenny Girard

As a young professional and woman in the green industry, I have had my fair share of learning and growing. Here are some of the key elements I have found to be helpful to achieving my goals over the years. Building a strong network of support is crucial as a young professional. That network can begin during your school years or early in your career. While you are at school, take advantage of every opportunity, club and meeting to grow strong relationships with your peers and professors. In your career, look for industry leaders, mentors and peers.

These relationships will last far beyond your beginning years. That network will not only help you grow but check you when you may have may lost your way.

To this day, I reach out to my professors, alumnus or former colleagues and ask for advice or collaboration on projects. Joining the National Association of Landscape Professionals and the NALP Women in Landscape Network (WILN) has not only allowed me to give back to future generation but helped me obtain so much knowledge, experiences and make new friendships.

As a young professional, that first job can be key. Think what your professional and personal goals will be in one, three or five years. Insight into these goals will help you understand how to achieve those ambitions. While reviewing job opportunities, take note of what you want from that experience and how will it help you obtain your goals. You may find yourself unsure as I did post-graduation; not sure what career direction to move. With a plant science degree, I had a wide variety of options to choose from in the green industry and was not keen on settling in one direction. This led me to look for a position that had opportunities for growth and worked with different areas of the green industry. I wanted it to foster creativity and provide the ability to grow my existing knowledge. I knew that within this realm, I would have the ability to work in the industry with real-life experience and find my passions and strengths.

At some point in your career, you may find yourself wanting something new, to find a better fit or to relocate. The best thing about our industry is there are many career options. Write down your goals, talents, passions and what changes you desire, while researching your next move. For over five years, I had been a topiary artist and display horticulturalist, but then I wanted to make a career change and to relocate. After researching, I found becoming a landscape manager, I could fulfill my list all in one place.

Finally, having the ability and willingness to ask for help is essential. I have found that this can be difficult as a young professional and as a woman to be this vulnerable. We tend to put pressure on ourselves to be the best you can be, to prove your worth. This feeling can lead you to be reluctant to ask your colleagues or supervisor for assistance. When this happens, you close yourself off to new opportunities, collaboration and ideas. This can create a damaging environment with you and your coworkers. I have found in my experience that once you open to others, you will find that they will have similar doubts of themselves. Supporting each other will only make you and your team stronger.

Jenny Girard is an active member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals Women in Landscape Network (powered by Bayer), which provides a forum for industry professionals to support each other’s professional growth. The Network is free to all industry professionals.

Women in Lawn & Landscape is a column brought to you in partnership with the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

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