The visit was scheduled as a part of our studies at Niagara College in an effort to get students to meet with professionals and begin to think about future employment options which is very helpful for many students who are not yet certain of what they wish to do after graduation. Due to the sheer diversity of companies represented at the trade show, students can look around and speak with hundreds of individuals all with very unique careers and ask about the specific tasks and skills needed for these jobs and then begin to filter through the options to pick one that suits them best.
We were given three different assignments that needed to be completed during the trade show and one of them was to help encourage this possible employment search. For me however, it was not all that useful. As many of you know I have been working in the gardening communications field for about two years beginning with the management of a very poor looking gardening blog which, though it did not last long, starting me on the road to where I am today writing for Hiemstra Gardens. There have been countless other projects along the way the most recent of which, Garden Connect, stirred some interest at the trade show (more on that later).
Since there were not any companies at Landscape Ontario related to the gardening communications field, the assignment regarding potential employment was lost on me (although when I first noticed the HGTV bags held by some attendees I got quite excited…too bad it was just a promotion for a product line at Sheridan Nurseries). I did however still find an answer to some of the questions we were required to answer such as finding potential salary for one of the careers we would be interested in. With my upcoming teachings at local schools in my region and my connections with a professor from Algonquin College back home I figured that a College instructor was the closest and most interesting career that I would consider out of all others at landscape Ontario. I did not want it to look as though I was “cheating the system” by asking my own professor a question for my homework assignment but in the end decided that since it was the most relevant career at the trade show, I asked anyhow. My estimated salary of $80 000 was on par with the answer I received of $50 000 to $100000 and I am thankful that I was not required to find the answer through a conversation with someone else as I can no longer see myself doing anything but communications work and I doubt I will ever stop blogging even if I do get into radio or TV.
Another main highlight of my trip was my conversation with the representatives of Peeters Nurseries, Again, while searching for evergreens from my list I struck up a conversation with them regarding the work that they do and why they love to do it. This led them to ask the same question which led into a talk regarding my most recent project Garden Connect with gardeners all over the world planting identical gardens to compare growing methods (click here to read more about Garden Connect) They were interested in the idea and explaining to them what it was all about as well as explaining the concept of gardening communicator was another highlight of my visit (though by the end of the day I had repeated myself countless times).
I also spent time speaking with representatives of many other companies such as Jon Durzi from Miller Compost and countless other mulch supply companies (they don’t seem to care for the new recycled rubber mulches much). I made a stop at the Ridgetown campus booth from the University of Guelph and spoke with a former graduate of Niagara College who enquired how I was enjoying the course as well as my visit at the trade show so far. Lori Sproule from Built For Bosman and I had an interesting chat regarding their new products created from recycled milk jugs and I even took some time to speak with representatives of Banas Stone and Beaver Valley Stone since our third project asked us to pick up some catalogues from a few different aggregate and stone suppliers.
There were a few other questions we were to ask for the first assignment though we weren’t to ask directly so this became quite an interesting challenge. One was to identify characteristics or qualities that employers were looking for in their job applicants and it was quite fun to talk about some of their experiences hiring students and youth. The main focuses were the usual, employers are looking for individuals who show up on time, don’t pull out their phones every few minutes and either an eagerness to learn or some previous experience. Confidence and good oral and computer skills were other qualities that were raised though they were not quite as common.
Lastly I was asked to find four jobs that I could apply for and list the details such as pay and, title, company etc. When I spoke with Jon from Miller Compost we ended up talking about employment and he said his company is always looking for baggers although he admitted the pay was not much greater than minimum wage. I also found a few other available jobs such as a fence installer for Medalion fence, a basic labourer for Fairfield Nurseries and a shipping aid at one of the many Connons Nurseries. All these started at minimum wage and if I had to choose one of them I would choose the general laborer followed by the shipping aid thanks to my previous want to become a grower though again, these are no longer careers which I really want to do to make a living. I would enjoy them but I find I enjoy garden writing and other communications work much more.
By the end of the day I was exhausted. I spend the morning finding pictures, picking up reading material and talking to basically everyone who wasn’t already busy. I spent some time searching for possible sponsors for Hiemstra Gardens or Garden Connect and more time browsing through some of the new products some of which are now carried in our garden center back home. Landscape Ontario is a great place for students to learn what’s out there in respect to employment, products and competition and its equally rewarding for tradespeople who can connect with fellow companies and tradespeople, advertise their own company and meet with potential partners, employees, clients, suppliers etc. essentially it’s an opportunity to expand your network which, is always fun and…extremely beneficial!
I am simply a gardener who loves plants, nature, writing, photography, art and all things rustic, vintage and unique. Leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter! I'd love to hear from you!