PLANET Student Career Days combine job hunting with competition, education

Justin Morgan, North Carolina State University student, talks with Greg Clayton, of Ariens, at the Career Fair. Photo: PLANETJustin Morgan, North Carolina State University student, talks with Greg Clayton, of Ariens, at the Career Fair. Photo: PLANET


Instead of spending time relaxing with family and friends, Justin Morgan’s meeting companies, networking and competing with hundreds of students in landscaping events during his spring break.

He’s one of 850 students from 65 different landscape and horticultural programs at this week’s Student Career Days, headed by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) at North Carolina State University (NCSU).

The career fair is the largest for landscaping businesses in the country, so Morgan stopped by information booths to talk with employers about his career after graduation.

“(My family’s) very excited for my career and just for the opportunity to compete,” Morgan says. The Concord, North Carolina native will graduate from NCSU in 2016 with a bachelor’s of science in horticulture. Morgan’s original major was civil engineering, but found he had more strength in horticulture.

“Ever since then, I have passionately enjoyed my classes and my internship,” Morgan says.

His ultimate job is to work in sports turf design and maintenance or be an account manager overseeing projects on multiple properties.

“In a dream world, I would love to be a turf manager or facilities manager of some sports franchise or a golf course superintendent of a major golf course,” Morgan says “If I could combine the sports world with horticulture, my dream job would be there.”

Morgan says landscaping professionals should pay close attention to this event, because it helps highly educated and professional students who desire “a lot deeper education and research” within the industry.

“I think I will be able to make a comfortable living, and I think there is plenty of room to grow and develop to gain raises and promotions,” Morgan says. “I have no worries about entering this field after graduation.”

Even though it’s his first year attending Student Career Days and he’s going to be in two different competitions – one in construction cost estimating and another in landscape design – he’s not too nervous.

The event lasts through Sunday and features multiple competitions and workshops in subjects such as 3D exterior design, plant identification, irrigation assembly and design and business management. Arboriculture enthusiasts will work with live trees. Students also learn and operate equipment such as compact excavators and skid steer loaders.

PLANET will award $93,700 in scholarships at this year’s event.

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