Fun Times in Philly!

Philadelphia is known for the Liberty Bell, the iconic scene in the movie Rocky, and of course Philly cheesesteak. Another ‘icon’ familiar to staff in our Philadelphia office is the Esri Birthday Cake. The mouth-watering dessert is baked to perfection at a local bakery and quickly devoured at the team’s monthly birthday celebration.

“It’s not unheard of for many members of the office to be standing outside the break room just waiting for the cake to make its appearance,” said Kathie, the Regional Office Administrator.

After seeing pictures of the cake, we certainly can’t blame them!

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A New Face on Esri’s University Programs Team

One of Esri’s newest employees is hitting the road this fall, possibly coming to a campus near you! Nick Kelch recently joined the university programs team and will be working closely with universities as well as helping build up Esri’s campus ambassador program. He will be using his background in technical recruiting and GIS to strengthen our efforts on campuses across North America.

Nick Kelch

What inspired you to want to be a part of Esri?

I’ve wanted to work at Esri ever since I learned of the company when using their software in school. At first it was a love/hate relationship because learning GIS can be difficult. After overcoming the initial challenge of learning the software, I developed a passion for the technology and its capabilities. It was once I realized the full potential of GIS that I was hooked, and I had been searching for a way to join Esri ever since.

What will you be doing in this new role?

I will be attending recruiting events throughout the year; meeting students, branding Esri on campus, and building relationships with professors. I am also coordinating our campus ambassador program, which is where we work directly with students to help us with our presence on their campus.

What innovative changes do you see coming?

One of the things I would like to do is add an aspect of gamification to the campus ambassador program, which would allow students to interact with each other more as well as allow for rewards and some friendly competition. Additionally, I plan on helping the HR team use Esri’s technology in our daily operations and analytics. There are a few other ideas that come to mind, but those are the ones I’m most excited for.

What are you looking forward to in your new role?

I’m excited for everything that is included with my job. I have the unique ability to build relationships with professors and students, and also internally with managers and co-workers. This provides me with the opportunity to hear the different ways GIS is being used and developed. GIS is everywhere, but you don’t necessarily notice it until you work at Esri where it’s visible in every department and it’s the center of almost every conversation. It’s really exciting to be part of that.

How will you describe Esri’s culture to students?

The atmosphere is like nothing I have ever seen. Everyone is so eager to help you achieve success, and they want you to be successful. You can do anything you want here and your ideas will be heard. Esri is all about helping the world become a better place. It’s everything I have ever wanted in a company.

What advice do you have for students?

It depends on their background. In general though, try for an internship, co-op, or assistantship to one of our conferences. Go to career fairs, build relationships with Esri staff, and build great relationships with your professors. They will speak on your behalf more than you realize. Take on extracurricular activities to become well rounded. Join a club and step outside your comfort zone. The biggest mistake I see is when students underestimate themselves and their skills.

What do you mean by underestimating themselves?

Students tend to underestimate themselves when it comes to their skills and previous work experience. All of their work experience is valuable to an employer, even if it isn’t directly related to the position they’re applying for. When they neglect to add in jobs or volunteer projects on their resumes, they are removing those skills and experiences. Additionally, it’s always better to show they did something over the summer or at a part-time job and gained more experience than have a gap on their resume. Lastly, students need to be specific in what they put on a resume because it shows a story of who they are and what they have done.

What is an activity you enjoy participating in outside of work?

I like to wood work, snowboard, and do 3D design. I also enjoy volunteering. Currently I’m working with True Friends, an organization that helps mentally challenged people form long-lasting friendships with each other by hosting events at their camp locations. I get to put my GIS skills to use by updating their camp and trail maps. I have enjoyed it so far, and I plan on finding other ways to help in the future.

Nick will be visiting schools across the US this fall with other Esri staff. Check our event calendar to see where we’ll be.

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A New Network for Budding GIS Professionals

By Citabria Stevens, ArcNews editor

There are countless ways to enter the field of GIS and, with a bit of imagination and creativity, even more ways to use the technology.

This notion of limitless possibilities was the overarching theme of a series of events put on by the Young Professionals Network (YPN) at the 2015 Esri User Conference in San Diego, California. The YPN, in its inaugural year, offers budding GIS professionals—of any age—the opportunity to network with peers and meet some of the most dynamic and influential people in GIS.

Following two well-attended social events and two panel discussions—one on promoting the value of GIS and one on the GIS professional of tomorrow—the YPN rounded out the weeklong conference with a question-and-answer session with Esri founder Jack Dangermond and three quite distinct, and relatively new, Esri leaders.

The session began with the three Esri directors—Andrew Turner, chief technology officer of Esri’s research and development office in Washington, DC; Robin Jones, director of Esri’s tech sector; and David DiBiase, Esri’s education team leader—explaining how they got into GIS and ended up at Esri.

The diverse panel then fielded questions from an even more heterogeneous audience—GIS degree-holders and self-taught practitioners; GIS managers and undergraduate students; people working for local US governments and others from abroad.

The audience asked for advice about education and work experience: Why is GIS largely only available as a subject of study rather than a major? Is it more important to get work experience or receive a master’s degree? They inquired about how to reveal the power of GIS to those who don’t know about it and wondered the best ways to mentor others: How can we educate our managers on the usefulness of GIS? What are the most practical ways to mentor people with varying levels of GIS knowledge?

Answers from the panel were candid and encouraging. Interest in GIS is growing, said DiBiase, so he expects to see a dozen bachelor’s degree programs in GIS within the next decade. Jones encouraged young GIS professionals to actually show their managers how GIS solves problems. “A demo is worth a million words,” she added. And Turner said that listening is as much a part of mentoring as teaching, urging members of the audience to engender an environment of trust around their work.

When Dangermond entered the room, the conversation shifted to the YPN itself and how it can grow.

“Fundamentally, good friendship is most important in life,” Dangermond told the audience, recounting what an elderly man in Japan once told him. “I want to see a great network occur,” he continued, “where you get together again and again and you have fun, actually, and you learn from your friends.”

Dangermond believes that people learn things in the context of good friendship because trust comes through camaraderie. “There’s nothing like hearing from your friends because they actually share . . . experience to experience,” he said.

And a solid network is what fuels career growth. As Turner said, finding and showing your managers and coworkers that they can have confidence in you is what gets young GIS professionals more projects—whether they’re working as the lone GIS technician in a company or building a startup from scratch.

Dangermond gave some perspective from his own career as well. As someone who was trying to use computers to fix problems when computers were still relatively obscure, he said everyone thought he was nuts. So he found out what people needed—became interested in what they wanted rather than a guy with interesting ideas—and then he did it.

“That’s the secret to your success,” Dangermond said. “Figure out what the world needs and wants.” And then do it. “Get the work, do the work, make sure you get paid,” he advised. Those are Dangermond’s three principles for pursuing any endeavor in GIS.

He also believes that people need to follow their own curiosities. “You guys all chose this field, didn’t you?” Dangermond asked. He then inquired if members of the audience remembered the moment they decided that GIS was what they wanted to do.

Dangermond’s moment was on November 7, 1968. That’s when he realized that “this is it,” as he put it—that he had ambitions to make a difference with this technology. “You’ve chosen the love of my life,” he stated to a rapt audience.

Even through the ensuing laughter, everyone’s respect for the love of Dangermond’s life—the field of GIS—was evident. As the field continues to grow, it seems that so will this community of young GIS professionals.

Some YPN participants will likely take DiBiase’s advice and pursue GIS Professional (GISP) recognition and Esri Technical Certifications, which he says will help formalize expertise and a community of practice. Some will continue breaking the rules and creating new ones, as Jones advocated, to keep raising the bar of what GIS professionals do.

Regardless of how members of the YPN develop their careers, the field of GIS will continue to attract people from all over the world with a myriad of interests and professional aspirations. And that will allow the Esri YPN to become increasingly indispensable.

To become part of this journey, join the YPN community.

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An Esri Intern’s International Experience He Will Never Forget

Phil Pitts, a student at Washington State University, decided he wanted a different intern experience that complemented his majors of computer science and Chinese language. This prompted him to apply for a position as a research intern in the Esri R&D Center in Beijing. “I was a student volunteer at SIGGRAPH in 2014 and stopped by Esri’s booth in the job fair, which sparked a conversation about building virtual reality technology in Beijing.”

His work as an intern involved developing a virtual reality plugin for Esri products. “The plugin I am developing will allow internal and external clients to integrate many different virtual reality display, control, and behavioral systems into their GIS applications in a simple and hardware-independent way.” He also had the opportunity to challenge himself by debugging custom memory pool allocators in a foreign language, which brought another level of complexity to his work.

Needless to say, there were many opportunities for Phil to become immersed in the Chinese culture and he was impressed with how the locals welcomed him in their town. He hopes to go back and travel throughout China, but for now he will be coming back to the United States.

Good luck Phil and we wish you well on all your future endeavors.

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My Farewell Address: An Intern’s Reflections on Her #EsriExperience

It would be an understatement to say I did a lot this summer. At the beginning of my summer vacation I was in Dublin, Ireland finishing up my studies at Trinity College. I then took a 13 hour flight back home to San Francisco, California. When I finally arrived, I had a short turnaround to head down to Southern California to start my full-time internship at Esri as a Marketing and Branding intern.

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Get to Know Esri Interns

Have you ever wondered where Esri interns come from or what their educational backgrounds are? Even though most interns have headed back to school or are on their way to their first full-time job, you can still get to know them via this story map.

Our interns come from all different walks of life, educational backgrounds, and countries–the diversity can be seen throughout the map. You can see where each intern is from based on the point on the map, as well as where they are obtaining their degree and what Esri team were on.

Has this inspired you to apply for a 2016 internship? We’ll have more information on our website this fall. In the meantime, here’s some background info to get you started.

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An Intern with a Heart–or More Accurately Legs–of Gold

Each Esri intern has an incredible story and background, and Max Payson is no different. As a runner Max has excelled in cross country and track at Yale University, so it was no surprise when he signed up to run the 5K at the Esri User Conference. The 5K was a great success with around 600 people coming out. Max won the event with the time of 15:10, which was almost a minute before anyone else got to the finish line. He said his favorite part of the 5K was seeing his coworkers involved and participating in something so important to him. “Glad to see the GIS community likes running.” It was a common connection that sparked interest with him.

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Interns Spark Innovation by Creating Amazing Apps at Hackathon

Thirteen teams, eight presentations. Three placed, one won. These are the statistics for the first annual “Weekend of Innovation” Esri intern hackathon. With so many interns this year–well over 100–there were more activities for them to participate in than ever before and that includes the hackathon.

All the teams had to turn in their ideas prior to the event, so no one was aware of what others were doing until they arrived. This left the teams with the curiosity of whether or not the other teams had similar ideas. The teams worked non-stop from Friday afternoon until Saturday night, when they presented their ideas. The 13 teams presented in the first round; eight were selected to present in front of the higher management of Esri. That was where the winner was chosen.

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Creative Interns Express Themselves Through Photography

Having extracurricular activities for the interns to participate in is a great way to spark creativity and camaraderie. Within that spark the intern photo contest was born, and with 62 entries for the first-ever contest it was a great success. The categories were left up to interpretation of the intern, so the creativity could be shown in their own way. The categories included Life on Campus, Esri in the World, Intern Experience, Most Creative, and All Natural. All the categories were hard to judge because there were so many great entries, but after the final tally the winners were as follows.

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User Conference Helps Student Assistants See Their Future

The Esri International User Conference (UC) is the largest event of its kind, with 16,000 attendees from all over the world. As you might imagine, it takes a lot of people to make an event of this magnitude go smoothly, and every year UC student assistants are a big part of this endeavor. From helping with set up, registration, and in sessions to working in the conference store, students are versatile in what tasks they take on. Student assistants come from a diverse range of countries and states and many different backgrounds.

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