When Tyler Schnell decided to pursue his degree in Purdue University’s Landscape Horticulture Design Program, he knew he was taking a risk (with all the chemistry and science required) but realized how important it was to pursue a profession doing something he loved. Graduating in May 2013, with a surprising unrealized appreciation of science, Schnell demonstrates how hard work and following a career path in something he truly enjoys was the right decision for him.
What led you to major in landscape horticulture and design (LHD)?
I have always had a desire to work outside but didn’t realize that I wanted to make it a career path until after my five year active duty in the U.S. Navy. While in the Navy I mulled options like history or political science, but realized that I would not be fully happy unless I chose something I really cared about. I did some research and decided that the LHD major was a perfect fit even though I dreaded all of the chemistry and other science courses that were required. But in the end I found that I truly enjoy science, which totally surprised me.
What are some of your favorite recollections about your experience at Purdue University?
The faculty and staff stick out the most. Every department that I had a class in showed that they really were passionate about teaching and helping the students learn. Purdue’s faculty really helped me understand my true potential and helped push me to get the fullest out of myself.
Describe your current career, its development, and the path that took you there.
Currently, I work at Becker Landscape Contractors as the Residential Maintenance Account Manager and Sales. I started out working for a small firm in my hometown (Schnellville, Indiana) as a laborer and realized I was good at it and really enjoyed it. My wife and I then moved to Indianapolis, and I got a job working for another company and worked there part-time while in school. After I graduated from Purdue I got promoted to Account Manager there but wasn’t really happy with the management. I then contacted one of my previous professors about Becker Landscape to see what kind of positions were available; they happened to have the same position available so I interviewed and accepted their offer.
What is a typical work day like and what are your primary responsibilities?
My typical work day starts out with making sure my schedule is correct and getting crews out of the shop. I then go to meetings and perform other administration tasks. Throughout the day I set up site visits with clients and get proposals to them. I work with my department head on budgets, billable accounts, quarterly schedules, and other tasks.
What advice would you offer to others thinking about a career in landscape horticulture and design?
This is a great career for someone who really enjoys working with people and has a passion to use their creativity. I would tell anyone who has a desire to start their own business to minor in a business major and work hard in the classes. I would also forewarn a person that this is not an industry where things are given to you but rather earned. You have to put in the time and effort to get the promotions that you will want. I would also tell anyone interested in LHD to keep in touch with their professors and network as much as possible. There are many opportunities for anyone willing to study and work hard.