By Guest Blogger Zack, Summer Intern
I’m spending this summer as a Desktop Support Services Intern at the Esri headquarters in Redlands, CA. Before accepting this position, I was a geography graduate assistant at Minnesota State University and an undergraduate GIS lab assistant at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. This blog series chronicles my observations and experiences of life in the internship program.
When first told I’d be spending my summer in desktop support, I panicked slightly, wondering whether my technical proficiency was up to standards. Fortunately, rather than being expected to pick up a headset and start troubleshooting from Day 1, my first several weeks in the internship program were spent acclimating to the work environment, building a solid foundation for the months ahead, and becoming familiar with the ways Esri supports its users.
It was only after two weeks of orientation, briefings on software and procedures, and sessions observing support analysts engaging with users on the phone and through email or instant messenger that I felt fully prepared to jump in and offer assistance. By helping re-create problem incidents and researching possible solutions to users’ cases, my fellow interns and I actively contributed to the desktop unit, helping to ease their increased workload during the ArcGIS 10.1 launch.
Joining the support team, I expected to make use of my knowledge of ArcGIS software and the handful of tools I’d gotten to know through my coursework and lab assistant duties. But what really surprised me was how often I’d find myself falling back on a skill set from another career: my time as a college news reporter. Asking good questions, taking thorough notes, and above all else, listening to others are integral in learning to be a good support analyst. Collaborating with other employees is an essential part of growing into the support role; even the most experienced analysts regularly consult others for help.
Thankfully, the first month of my internship wasn’t all work and no play. Evenings and weekends allow me to get out and explore Redlands and the surrounding area, to experience life in Southern California. A huge fan of fast food and Mexican cuisine, the local dining options delight me immensely. Hosting my birthday dinner at an excellent Caribbean restaurant near the Esri campus, I was even serenaded by the chef in Creole French.
There’s also a weekly farmers market in downtown Redlands. Having conducted an undergraduate research project measuring the spatial extents of farmers’ market trade areas, I had to check it out. The variety of produce featured, at least compared to the markets in Minnesota, impressed me, and the prices were shockingly low. From apartment rent to gasoline, I’d expected things to cost more in California, but farmers market produce is one area where it might be a better deal than where I’m from!
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for Zack’s next post in a few weeks. He’ll talk a little about some of the projects he’s working on, the adventures he’s been on while in Redlands, and maybe even about what interns in other departments are doing.