Yesterday I began my first day at The Great Outdoors, a fantastic locally-owned nursery in Austin. I took this job to learn about more about growing, selling, and installing plants, and to add to my resumé as a landscape architect. There is no doubt that this job will involve tough manual labor out in the sun and rain, but working with plants is something that I've wanted to do for a long time. I actually attempted to get a nursery job last year, but missed the hiring season due to my own ignorance. This year I was much smarter about it, and for anyone attempting to get a job at a nursery I would offer these points of advice:
- Craft a decent resumé. This should be a no-brainer for any job-seeker, but I feel I should mention it because these jobs can be more competitive than you might think. I used a resumé template with green font that came with MS Word for Mac to create a very snazzy looking resumé. (The green font looks more professional than it sounds.)
- Know the hiring season. Selling plants is a season-driven business, and employees are typically hired in groups before the growing season begins. In Austin this hiring season is mid-January to mid-February.
- Know your local plants. Nurseries and garden centers like to see that you have some very basic knowledge of plants, and that you are somewhat familiar with the species commonly sold in your area. I was asked multiple times about this stuff, and studied up to make myself a more competitive applicant. Some universal questions you should know the answers to include:
- what are the primary soil nutrients that plants need?
- what is the difference between an annual and a perennial?
- what are some plant species you commonly find in gardens in your area?
- what are common pests in your area?
- what can you add to soil to adjust pH balance? - etc.