A career intern strengthens a Golden-based business
Drive through the Columbia Basin and there’s a good chance you’ll come across some of Jason Jones’s work. As a landscape architect and owner of LARCH Landscape Architecture + Authentic Mountain Design, Jones can check off past and current projects like the Nakusp downtown revitalization, Golden’s downtown plaza and the Slocan waterfront redevelopment.
“We definitely have a lot of things on the go,” he says—and is very pleased that his formerly one-person firm has been further strengthened by adding intern Elizabeth Lyle, funded in part through the Trust’s Career Internship Program. “She’s been a huge help.”
After about 15 years working in multi-disciplinary design firms, Jones founded LARCH Landscape Architecture in Golden in 2016. As his reputation grew, however, he “was getting spread a little bit too thin,” he says. “As an entrepreneur, if you’re successful, at some point you’re going to hit your max in terms of what you can accomplish in a day when you have a million different things coming at you. Basically, I was at a crossroads where I was either going to have to start saying no to a lot of work that I really wanted to do, or I was going to have to hire somebody.”
Lyle was the perfect fit, with a diploma in Landscape Architecture Technology from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology completed in spring 2022. She found herself looking for job possibilities in Golden when her partner secured a position there himself.
“As soon as I saw LARCH’s website, I was so excited, because that’s exactly the type of things I wanted to be doing,” she says. “Working for a small firm, it felt more intimate—and the projects that you get to do I found very meaningful.”
Starting as Landscape Designer at the beginning of October 2022, Lyle particularly loves taking Jones’s landscape designs and turning them into 3-D computerized concepts, which help clients visualize their projects. “You can get excited about what’s going to be built. You really feel like you’re in it.” She especially appreciates that “LARCH is so open to innovation, to see new technology and what you can do with it.”
For his part, Jones also values Lyle’s hand-drawing and photography skills, which aid during on-site visits. “I’m giving her a little bit of everything and seeing what challenges her and what she enjoys,” he says. “As I’m getting to know her, I see a lot of potential for her to grow within this organization.”
This last sentiment sums up what the Trust’s Career Internship Program is about. The subsidy provides employers with up to 50 per cent of an intern’s salary, for up to one year, for full-time, career-focused positions that lead to permanent employment. Post-secondary graduates develop skills and experience and gain meaningful and sustainable employment. The businesses hire and train long-term staff at reduced costs.
Lyle feels that the wage subsidy is “like this vouch of confidence from somebody saying, ‘Yeah, you don’t know all the things yet, but you’re going to learn them and we support you in learning them.’ And that’s huge.”
As for LARCH, the subsidy “opened up a door and made it more realistic to hire somebody.” With Lyle’s help, the business can “focus on a number of interesting projects simultaneously and continue doing really great work for our clients.”
One aspect that’s important to people in the region is a diverse and resilient Basin economy supported by strong businesses, a trained workforce and sufficient job opportunities. The Trust’s wide range of wage subsidy programs—including this one, focused on career interns—helps make this happen.
Grateful for the program’s aid, Jones says that LARCH is challenging the notion that you have to be based in a big city to be successful.
“I’d love to get the word out that this program exists if it helps anyone else who’s in a similar situation,” he says. “It’s an awesome program.”