My First Year at Callander
Over the past year, Callander Associates has had several new employees join our team! Two of our newest team members, Amy McNamara, and Zach Katz were asked to give us their perspective about what it has been like during their first year of working for our firm. Amy brings several years of experience and an east-coast background to our team, while Zach has jumped right in to his first year in the Landscape Architecture profession.
Amy McNamara, Project Manager
“With five years of education and five years of professional practice under my belt, it’s hard to believe I’ve been involved in landscape architecture for almost a decade. In this short time, I’ve been privileged to work on a diverse list of project types in a variety of geographic locations, designing landscapes on both coasts.
I did my undergraduate studies at Penn State University, and began my professional career at a very small firm in the Philadelphia area. The transition from being a student to a practicing landscape architecture was very exciting, but also challenging–education can provide a landscape architect the requisite theoretical background, but many of the practical skills needed to succeed professionally–such as how to deliver good work product on budget–come only with time. Adaptability and versatility are key for young professionals and I spent most of my first two years just soaking up as much information as I possibly could.
The second half of my career has been influenced by my move to California. While not starting from scratch, it has been a challenge adapting to some West Coast design practices. On the flip side, it has also been a great pleasure as the Bay Area offers a number of advantages not present in landscape architectural practices on the East Coast. In general, the climate of the Bay Area lends itself to a greater emphasis on outdoor space. The accessibility of year-round open space in both private and public settings presents an abundance of opportunity for innovation, and the ability to utilize an incredible plant palette, with many distinctive plants (I’m looking at you, succulents!) that are not available on the East Coast. It has also been a great relief to disregard the design requirements for snow removal and the omnipresent safety issues of ice!
I am happy to say I have found a professional home on the West Coast with Callander Associates! One of the characteristics that initially drew me to Callander was the variety of project types that I would have a hand in. True to form, in my short time here, I’ve worked on projects ranging from corporate courtyards to green streets to public parks. Furthermore, it is amazing to me that I could literally walk a mile in any direction and stumble upon a Callander project. Working for a Bay Area leader, it is rewarding to see our built work directly influencing the local community to such a great degree. Finally, it is 100% true that positive work relationships influence career happiness–in addition to feeling professional fulfilled, my coworkers are such a great group of people to work with and play with. They have truly made my cross-country move more manageable and enjoyable. I look forward to developing my personal and professional relationships and expanding my knowledge at Callander Associates. I am excited to see what the future holds!
Zach Katz, Project Assistant
“As I’ve hit my one year mark at Callander Associates, I think about how my transition from a student to professional has been much smoother than I expected it to be.
I loved the landscape architecture program at University of Oregon and the guidance it provided to help me find my way through the broad spectrum of the profession. Throughout my time at Oregon, I developed a passion and appreciation for the type of work landscape architect’s do and became aware of the positive effect they have on people and the environment. I was so eager to get started in the profession and was excited Callander gave me the opportunity to join the team.
My biggest fear coming into the profession was that I would spend long hours at my computer, working on cad and not really interacting with people. But this hasn’t been the case! I still do CAD work, but it’s mixed in with drawings, renderings, designing and site visits. One of my favorite aspects of working here is the office environment. I was so accustomed to my studio environment in school, where we were always helping each other, and adding a little fun into our work regime. Working at Callander has felt like a perfect extension of that studio environment! At Callander, we genuinely enjoy spending time together and crack jokes about each other (although, being the rookie, I’m usually at the end of them). After only a few months of being at Callander I felt like I was part of a new supportive community where I could express myself and feel confident that I would be able grow as a landscape architect.
I’ve enjoyed the challenges of working in a professional firm. It took some time to adjust to the fast pace, as I am constantly working on more than one project at a time. However, I’m becoming accustomed to it, and appreciate the project diversity, and the continued learning that I gain with each different project I work on.
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start to my career. I’m at a great firm with great people who push me to be my best, not only as a designer, but as a person. I’m confident that they will help me continue on my path of professional growth as a landscape architect.”