If you ask botanical garden or arboretum professionals what kind of training they think you’ll need, most are likely to recommend a college internship as the way to get started. Not only will an internship provide you with contacts for future employment, it will expose you to the different career options available within these settings and help you to define the path you’ll need to follow.
Horticulture is a profession that requires work experience and on-the-job training in addition to education.Most employers say they would not hire anyone without work experience, whether it involves summer jobs or an internship program.
Most public gardens offer one or more student internship programs, though they might differ in the degree of responsibility and the departments in which the intern could work. Depending on the garden, internships are available in the following areas:
- continuing education
- display design
- greenhouse production
- horticulture indoor display
- horticulture research
- integrated pest management
- library science
- outdoor display
- performing arts
- planning and design
- student programs
- visitor education
Internships can run from three months to a year and may include a stipend. Aside from the actual work, the internship may also include learning activities, such as lectures and field trips. Occasional weekend, evening, and holiday work may be required. Student housing may be available.
Professional Gardener Training Program
Longwood Garden’s tuition-free two-year internship program is offered every other year and is open to those with a high school diploma and at least one year of experience in garden work. Students work three days a week in all horticultural areas of the garden and receive classroom instruction from Longwood staff and outside instructors two days per week. They also rotate as the supervisor of a student work crew, which helps develop management skills. As in the college internship program, students receive a taxable stipend of $8.50 per hour, and housing is available.
Students work at one-month rotations in each of eight major indoor and outdoor areas: arboriculture, indoor display, production, groundskeeping, outdoor display, research, integrated pest management, and curatorial.
Graduates of the Professional Gardener Training Program are sought after by employers such as public gardens, commercial horticulture companies, and estate gardens.