Hi, my name is Lauren Mocettini and I am a fourth year student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I am an Agricultural Environmental Plant Science major with a concentration in Public Horticulture. This summer, I had the privilege of completing the rotational landscape internship at Heaviland Landscape Management.
While I’ve interned before, what was most appealing about this internship was that Heaviland takes into consideration your interests and goals. Based on my major, I would be most qualified for a position as an account manager. However, I am also interested in design and marketing, so Heaviland allowed me to explore other positions throughout the company.
A Day in the Life of a Landscape Intern
Throughout my 10-week internship, I got the opportunity to work alongside almost every position at Heaviland. This gave me insight into the inner workings of a commercial landscape business. Depending on who I worked with, my day varied significantly.
Shadowing the account manager position during my internship was a valuable experience because it was the most applicable to my degree.
During my time with Heaviland Account Manager, Dana Berger, I attended weekly staff meetings and worked on projects that allowed me to experience the role of an account manager. For example, I created renderings and proposals for clients. I enjoyed this because the clients trusted me to produce designs and plant palettes. The most exciting assignment was an enhancement project in Encinitas that I oversaw from start to finish. Other projects I assisted with included property visits where I helped recommend areas that would benefit from an enhancement. During this time, I learned that the account manager role is largely customer service based. Being proactive and noticing details is essential in this position.
Landscape Design + Construction
For design and construction, I observed the different stages of the commercial landscape design process while shadowing one of Heaviland’s landscape designers, Bryal Hilton. Some days we would visit properties with potential clients. Other days, we would meet onsite with the construction manager to answer questions about the design. Occasionally, we would meet with the enhancement crew to place plants for the actual design execution. I also attended a presentation for a design proposal where we walked a property with the client and reviewed the recommended enhancements.
Most of my time in design and construction was spent visiting new or prospective project sites. These were commercial properties that Heaviland was either bidding, or they were current clients but the project needed extra measurements or adjustments to the plant selection. In addition to my time spent out in the field, I also learned how to use PRO Landscape, an image editor for landscape renderings.
When working with Marketing Manager, Addie Stathatos, I assisted with projects like creating social media posts, editing content for our website, attending trade shows, and brainstorming ideas for future client events. My favorite part of marketing was taking photos of properties or shooting and editing videos for the blog. Regardless of the marketing project, I learned that a successful marketing campaign is highly dependent on the target audience.
While most of my time was divided between marketing, design, and account management, I also had the chance to rotate through other positions in the company. The first week of my internship was spent doing maintenance work with the landscape crews. I valued this time because it gave me the chance to see how hard the crews work each day.
I also spent time troubleshooting on the job with the field managers. They act as the go-between for account managers and crew, so they spend their time making sure things are running smoothly. If there is anything I learned from my time with the field managers, it’s that there is always something that needs attention, especially when it came to irrigation! Field managers also taught me that communication is key. When there was an issue at a property, it was crucial for the crews to notify the field managers so that they could communicate it to the account manager and/or client.
New Business Development
Finally, I also learned about new business development as part of my rotational landscape internship. I was fortunate enough to spend a day shadowing Tom, the president of Heaviland. During this time, I learned about our ideal client, the bidding process and how we acquire new maintenance contracts. In addition, I attended a client meeting regarding the landscape maintenance at one of our properties.
Final Thoughts on My Internship
I had a wonderful experience interning for Heaviland Landscape Management and will miss working with their team. The most rewarding aspect of this internship was that it allowed me to see how a business operates. By rotating through various positions, I gained an understanding of how the components work together and could observe the highs and lows of running a business.
Lesson #1: Customer Service is Key
A big takeaway from
my time at Heaviland is the importance of great customer service. Whether in the office or out in the field, every team member is working to meet the clients’ needs and provide an excellent experience. While there are many commercial landscape companies in San Diego, I feel the dedication to maintain client relationships is what sets Heaviland apart.
Lesson #2: Patience is a Virtue
Another highlight of this internship was how kind the Heaviland team was. From day one, I was welcomed by everyone and felt comfortable asking questions. Most projects and tasks were new to me, but everybody was patient in giving me clarification when I needed it. Prior to this internship, more of my jobs had been physical labor, so working in an office was an adjustment. Also, I was new to Southern California and had only been to San Diego once, so I was appreciative of everyone’s kindness and making me feel at home.
Lesson #3: Be Grateful
Now that I am on the cusp of graduating, I’m extremely grateful I got the opportunity to work with Heaviland. They allowed me to use the knowledge and skills I already had, while also giving me the chance to grow. When I graduate, I’m hoping to be in a managerial position, so this was the perfect glimpse into what a job post-graduation may look like.
Advice to Future Landscape Interns
For any college student working in some aspect of the green industry, this internship was a great learning experience. My strongest piece of advice is to try to pinpoint which aspects of the business you are most interested in. Like I said, Heaviland was more than accommodating in building a schedule that catered to my interests. I feel lucky for this opportunity and am thankful for my summer spent at Heaviland Landscape Management.
Dream Job: Work for Disney
My dream job is to be a Manager of Horticulture and Enhancement for a company like Disney. While it may not seem like working at a commercial landscape company could be applicable to my dream job, this experience could not have been better. The day-to-day job of an account manager is essentially what a horticulturist at Disney does, except in a theme park setting. Regardless if this is the career path I take, I learned so much during this internship. I liked being in a position where I could rotate around and have each day be a little different. I especially enjoyed the projects that allowed me to be creative, like design renderings or video projects. In fact, I found that while I was working on these I did not even feel like I was working!
Do You Want to Intern with Heaviland?
If you’re interested in interning at Heaviland, we want to hear from you! Just send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.