Behind the Scenes at the Esri UC

Each year, the Esri International User Conference (UC) brings together thousands of GIS professionals as well as social, economic, business, and environmental leaders from around the world to get the latest Esri product updates, learn from each other, and hear from incredible keynote speakers. This year’s theme was “GIS–Creating our Future.” Esri president Jack Dangermond urged conference attendees to think about the issues our world is facing and how we can combat them using GIS.

This year’s UC attracted more than 16,000 attendees and took up the entire San Diego Convention Center. Help was certainly needed to pull off this huge event! That’s where participants in the Esri UC Student Assistantship Program come in. The assistants help with everything from registration to conference logistics to working in the Esri Store. As a thank you for their hard work throughout the week, they receive registration to the conference and hotel accommodations as well as a per diem allowance for meals.

So what do the student assistants actually do? I was able to sit down and speak with a few of them to see what their roles were for UC.

Logistics: There are 60 assistants every year who arrive Friday before the conference begins. During their first couple of days they work and train for the week ahead to help make sure everything is ready for conference attendees to enjoy. During the week of the conference, their schedules are split. Thirty assistants work in the morning and 30 work in the afternoon. Everyone needs a break, right? This also gives students time to explore the vast conference and all that it offers.

Student assistants play a significant role in conference and hotel registration. All of the assistants pitch in to help get names sorted and badges printed. They also make sure attendees get to the right hotels. Prior to the start of the conference, this is crucial and their help makes a significant impact.

Technical Workshops: One of the main purposes of UC is to show users what’s new with Esri products and this is done through technical workshops. Student assistants were assigned to help with setting up technology, making sure the presenters had what they needed, and being the first line of defense if something went wrong.

Esri Store: One of the biggest attractions at UC is the store where conference attendees can find all sorts of Esri t-shirts, pens, books, coffee mugs, and much more. The student assistants spend much of their time rotating through the store helping customers with their purchases.

And more: Student assistants also spend their time helping with social media, setting up the conference banner stands and other equipment, and being “on call” in case they need to relieve someone.

It may be a part-time job, but their help is always immensely appreciated. The assistants were the first group to be thanked by Jack Dangermond at the close of the conference!

Interested in being a student assistant in 2015? Check the Esri Careers website in the fall for information on how to apply (AND make sure to block off the week of July 20-24 for UC 2015!),

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The Esri Difference

By Guest Blogger Aradhya, Professional Services Intern

It’s been over a month now since I joined Esri as an intern and it’s been a fun experience so far. I am an international student at University of Redlands and will be graduating with my MBA in Global Business in August. Esri has already been a catalyst for many friendships and professional relationships. Since day one, my fellow interns and I have exchanged much more than just Facebook and LinkedIn requests. We have watched some FIFA world cup games together, visited a few exciting places in SoCal, and went to Redlands’ biggest 4th of July celebration at the U of R.

I have been working with the Professional Services Division in the Extended Support Services program. The program has about 200 domestic and 100 global clients and it has been a great learning experience. I have been specifically working on data analysis and extracting information from raw data to help senior management take data-driven business decisions and visualize that information on a map. I have also been given the responsibility to analyze, develop, and implement business workflows, processes, rules, and products via Excel, SAP, and SharePoint. Although I have used Business Analyst and ArcGIS Online for my MBA coursework, visualizing current statistics and observing live examples has blown me away. That information looks incredible on a map. Due to all of this, the most important thing I am learning from my internship is time management. Unlike other interns at my schooling level, there is no real summer break for me. Working all day, taking evening classes, and completing my assignments and exams have been a completely new challenge for me, but I am enjoying it.

Before my MBA, I worked with many big corporations based in the US and Europe, but in my time here I have found that Esri is different. Esri is certainly doing innovative things and the future of the company looks bright. At Esri, you are given the freedom to express your creativity and connect the dots. People here are friendly and the atmosphere is family-like, where every employee motivates one another and tries to bring out the best in everyone. From the first day I joined Esri, I was assigned a mentor who has been a wonderful friend and has helped me at every step. The virtue of giving back to others and being generous can be seen at all levels of the company. Leadership of a company is what the employees will follow and I must say Esri has some smart people who are creative and innovative. What better example of leadership than Jack Dangermond himself, who recently announced that Esri is donating $1 billion in Esri software for schools to benefit millions of children. Esri strongly believes in giving back to society which has helped the firm grow exponentially. I feel I am growing professionally through my internship experience with Esri, and I am confident that my time here will help me in achieving my future goals.


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You Never Stop Learning

On Wednesday, interns had the chance to sit in on a brown bag presentation from two employees in Esri’s Professional Services Division. Chad Helm, who works in the extended support programs group, gave us a brief overview of the vast department, telling us about the various projects done by 600 employees all over the world. The Professional Services team supports customers and partners in effectively implementing and applying Esri software products. This may include short-term, in-house technical work or more long-term solutions projects.

Further into the presentation, Christie Pleiss, also from the extended support programs group, pulled the information back around to her career after college and with Esri. Her advice to the interns was this:

“Stay the course, do a great job, and things will happen for you.”

Christie’s background is in both geography and engineering, but throughout her time in school and working various internships and jobs, the resounding theme was GIS. In 2001, she joined Esri and worked on the Solutions team (before it was even called that). Through the years she worked in different Esri departments, using new technologies and programs she did not have much experience with. Each time she was faced with a new challenge, she pushed herself to adapt, relied on more experienced people to teach her, and did her homework to learn new things. Now, as an Esri manager, she is able to look back on her time with the company to see that she pulled herself up from a nuts and bolts technical position to the managerial, business side of things.

At the end of their presentation, the interns had learned much more than just about what the Professional Services team does; they had gotten some great career and life advice from two seasoned employees. Their last take-away was that we as humans never stop learning and that it is important to take those opportunities to develop ourselves further whenever we can.

Thanks Chad, Christie, and the rest of the Professional Services team for all you do!

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Has It Been 30 Days Already?

It is my thinking that when a college student is offered an internship (after the “Will I be paid?” question is answered), they wonder if the work they do will actually benefit the company in the long run. For some companies, yes. For many others, probably not. It is part of the questionable catch 22 of gaining experience. How does one get significant experience before graduating college and getting a real job? And how do we even know if we will enjoy doing what we majored in?

Frankly, I think the true sign of enjoying what you do comes when you realize you’ve been at something a whole month and it doesn’t even feel like that. I started May 28th and here I am now, wondering how I only have 6 weeks left at Esri. A lot has happened in these four and a half weeks. I’ve been helping develop an Esri campus ambassador program to start this fall, I’ve written numerous blog posts and Facebook updates, and I even learned to use some of the basics of ArcGIS Online to create a story map. When have you ever heard of a marketing intern using HTML 5 to develop and change content? A month ago, I didn’t even know what GIS was.

There are multiple facets of this internship that I could talk about, but there have been a few things that stand out:

  • I have been working a lot with internship and recent graduate recruiting, focusing on developing content that will draw students to Esri. Even those with little working experience play a vital role in Esri’s success. The recruitment marketing and university relations teams go out of their way to make sure they are finding the right people to come on board and that they are providing resources to help prospective employees see their future with Esri. This company is doing something special, and I don’t think many people realize how important a role Esri will play in the near future. I’m finding that I am very proud to be a part of that.
  • I may be a marketing intern, but I have learned things I never would have expected to. Even more important, I see how these learnings fit into the marketing I am doing and will do throughout my life. I’ve sat in on presentations ranging from location analytics to user experience to watching 3D demonstrations in our Applications Prototype Lab. I built robots in high school. I thought I wanted to be an engineer. When I realized that wasn’t the direction for me, I thought I’d never get another chance to use cool technology in my job. But I was wrong. Even in my internship, I am learning things that I couldn’t possibly be taught in a marketing class. I like to think that Esri has helped put me a cut above the rest of the young marketers out there by showing me the tools to understand our world.
  • The people. Even though I think it’s cliché to say that everyone in the company is so nice and approachable, I’m going to say it. I have a fantastic supervisor who has an open door policy, and in most of my work, it feels as though we are collaborating rather than her just giving me busy work. Not only that, but I have met and worked with people from other areas of the company, and each time, they are friendly and want to share with me what they do at Esri. This isn’t just a marketing plug for me either; this company truly embodies a collaborative environment.

Thankfully, I’m not done yet. I still have multiple projects to work on, User Conference to attend, and much more to learn about everything Esri is doing. Thank you to everyone who makes this yearly internship program possible!

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Interns Go High-Tech with the Applications Prototype Lab

During the last week of June, interns were given the opportunity to sit in on some demonstrations in the Esri Applications Prototype Lab. These demos included looking at real-time social media trend maps, environmental habitat maps, and some 3D responsive design. For those of us not working in the APL this summer, these demonstrations were incredible to see. Just another cool piece of Esri that interns got a peek of.

A big thank you to Hugh Keegan and his team for taking the time to show us their stuff!

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First Day of Summer 2014!

Who can believe tomorrow is the first day of summer already? Well, those of you who live in California don’t see much of a difference in temperature, but where I’m from, we got 132 inches of snow this year. Yikes!

Southern California is a great place to be during the summer months. From beautiful beach days to music festivals and other great events, there is plenty to do to maintain that work-life balance.

If you’re in Redlands, make sure to check out:

The Redlands Bowl: Every Tuesday and Friday evening during the summer, the Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival draws thousands to its world-class performances (free of charge!). Since its inception in 1923, an estimated eight million people have attended an evening of entertainment under the stars at the Redlands Bowl.

Picnic in the Park: Looking to get the kids out to run around? Pack a picnic or grab food from a local restaurant and head out to one of many beautiful parks in Redlands. People rave about Caroline Park and Prospect Park!

Market Night: Although it takes place year-round, summer is an especially good time to take in Market Night. Visitors are welcomed into an inviting atmosphere complete with historic buildings, brick sidewalks, and charming shops and eclectic restaurants. Crowds are pleasantly surrounded by over 150 food, produce, and merchandise booths every Thursday night.

4th of July Celebration: Once again, the University of Redlands will host one of the largest Independence Day celebrations in the state of California. There will be music and entertainment and a spectacular fireworks show!

There are also some beautiful walking tours of historic houses and gardens, bike trails, parks, and plenty of dining options to satisfy any craving.

But that’s not all! Southern California is full of summer surprises. You can climb the mountains in San Bernardino or head down to the San Diego Zoo. And the best part? You can get around SoCal in just a few hours, so you can plan a full day no matter where you’re heading off to!

Think you’ve seen/done it all? No way! Check out this story map of Southern California favorites: my SoCal

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85 Interns? Wow!

On Tuesday, Esri welcomed its last large group of interns to Redlands. A few more will be coming in over the next few weeks here and in regional offices. Today we had our second mixer breakfast, and this time the fun was a little more condensed. We sat at different tables with new faces and had to fill out some challenging brain teasers. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge of the morning was trying to get everyone in a group picture!

Have a great summer, interns!

Curious what interns did at the first mixer? Find out here.

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Esri User Experience Architect Shows the Layers of a Successful Application

In the scheme of things, the terms user experience and user interface are relatively new to the technology world. Even the job title User Experience Architect is unfamiliar to many of us. But for Steven Nelson, it’s his nine-to-five.

Steve works in the Creative Lab, or the “creative arm of Esri,” as he likes to call it. Simply put, his job in user experience is to help map out applications that are intuitive and simple to use for consumers with various technology skill levels. Steve works closely with user interface (UI) architects who work on an application’s “front end” to make it both visually appealing and easy to follow. Together these two groups take an application from a simple idea to a useful end product.

Take, for example, Esri’s ArcGIS software that is used to create interactive maps. Steve and his team are constantly looking at the product’s usability to see where users are struggling. Then, in conjunction with the UI architects, he breaks down the problem to see where an improvement can be made. Esri applications must look and function well to be useful for our customers.

Thanks, Steve for a very insightful presentation!

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Happy Friday!

TGIF, am I right? From everyone in Esri offices near and far, we hope you have a great, relaxing weekend!

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Are You on Instagram? Esri Is!

With its amusing play on the app’s name, esrigram has taken the company to the popular photo-sharing service. With over 200 million users, many businesses included, Instagram has become a mobile sensation. How does Esri fit in? esrigram is a way to visually represent what’s going on around campus, post pictures of maps (of course) and fun Throwback Thursday memories, and much more. There are even posts talking about the upcoming Esri International User Conference and pictures of our new building on campus.

esrigram is a space for geogeeks and all things Esri. Tag your own #geophotos and you may just see your pictures on the esrigram feed!

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