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UF Student Returns to Orlando and a Summer of Management Opportunities!

Paula-cover

This guest post was written by Paula, about her intern experience with us this summer. 

For the second year in a row, I’ve had an incredible summer at the Orlando South branch! Last summer, I learned the ropes of landscape maintenance; this summer has been focused on leading crews as a Landscape Superintendent. I have been tackling the parks of Celebration – a residential neighborhood and an offshoot of Disney – and building upon the work of my Mentor, Doug, who is the property’s Account Manager. I learned the most important elements of leading a crew and was charged with leading two crews myself. Together, we transformed Celebration’s landscape to achieve the perfect look for the “perfect town,” for which it is known. It feels amazing noticing a problem or being alerted of one, fixing it, then being complimented on it later by the client and residents. My eyes were opened to problems only briefly touched on in school, such as nematodes or cinch bugs in the soil or weed pressure. This priceless, hands-on experience of managing has greatly improved both my problem-solving and landscaping abilities.

My relationship with my Mentors, Doug and Rob, have defined my success this summer. My internship in landscape management last summer set a strong foundation for my summer as a “Management Intern”. Under Rob, the Branch Manager, I learned a new level of professionalism. Rob is the epitome of professionalism when it comes to talking with distressed clients. Under Doug, I learned to be confident in my decisions and work. Whenever I felt comfortable with my level of experience in leading and managing, they would challenge me to take it ten steps further. One day when Doug was out of town, he left me in charge – and it was like taking the training wheels off a bike! I was able to first-hand direct a crew park-by-park and knock off landscape detail work that I had identified myself. Typically, with internships, the intern shadows their mentor and gets experience in the easy, novice levels of the field; the responsibilities and accountability are still left to the Mentor. On this day, I was the sole owner of that accountability, and loved being trusted with that level of responsibility. While I had Doug’s number on speed-dial, I was encouraged to call the shots myself, and so I did. When Doug returned, he commended me on keeping the pace of the crews, and the details we finished. There are many elements and responsibilities of being an Account Manager, and I loved the opportunity to practice managing first-hand. I learned two major lessons this summer: management is the art of balancing things that are in conflict with each other, and that it takes time to do a great job. Doug and Rob helped me prioritize, itemize, and not sweat the small stuff. They taught me that eventually every part will get attention, such is the beauty of landscape maintenance!

This summer I woke up every morning excited for the day’s tasks and experiences. I will be sad to see it end, but it makes me all the more excited to finish school and return to Yellowstone Landscape in a new role!

 

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