By Guest Blogger Christian, 2012 Intern
During my first year in graduate school at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, I was looking for a challenging summer internship in GIS. As someone who had been using Esri products throughout my academic career, I applied to the Esri Summer Internship program. A few months later I had a series of interviews and then was given the opportunity to participate in the internship program.
I joined Technical Support on the desktop team, which supports many different aspects of the ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS for Mobile technologies. Every day I was able to learn something new and challenging. I specifically focused on key technologies that I was interested in. By the end of the summer, I had created workflows and even custom, script-based tools to help customers build their understanding of Esri technologies. I couldn’t have learned as much as I did without the help of other people on the team that had made it a priority to help me grow during my time as an intern.
As the summer began to wind down and the final internship presentations were being given, I realized how much I was going to miss this experience and the people that made it so special. During my final days in the program I was approached by the University Programs Team to continue my relationship with Esri by serving as a Campus Ambassador during the upcoming year. I was told that my main function would be to share my internship experience with other students and connect both students and faculty members to Esri. Once I returned to school I began brainstorming ideas of how to work towards building this relationship, which saw developing in two different ways: by connecting students to challenging, exciting career opportunities and helping students develop their understanding of the Esri products they use every day. This approach allowed me to share both the professional and practical experience that I was exposed to as an intern.
As the semester started, I was able to share my professional internship experience in formal settings like GIS Club meetings, informal conversations with professors and students, and events held to discuss resumés and finding career opportunities using suggestions directly from Esri recruiters. The most exciting opportunity came when the Geography and Regional Planning Department held their annual career and internship fair. I was invited by the department to represent Esri during the event and was able to hand out giveaways to the students including the Esri “Globeman.” During the event I was amazed by the number of students who had shown interest in Esri’s student programs and wanted to start the application process for internships or User Conference assistantships. In the weeks to follow, I had many other students approach me asking more questions about the program and where to get started. I believe that my positive experience as an intern was exciting for students to hear and will encourage them to apply in the near future.
In addition to sharing the experience of my internship and future opportunities with Esri, I was able to help students build their practical knowledge of Esri products. I began by having regular study sessions for students who were taking their first GIS course, in an effort to help them understand many different topics and how they work in ArcGIS. These topics included datums and projections, queries, simple geoprocessing, and much more. In addition, I was able to help more advanced students create custom tools and operations for more complex processes in ModelBuilder and Python. One example included a research project that was attempting to calculate the vegetation biomass lost during tornado blowdowns. Using my understanding of Python, I was able to help the student create a tool inside of ArcGIS to calculate the specific biomass of each tree based on its specie type. Another example included a tool to create time-series interpolation data of temperature and precipitation in Pennsylvania from 1980 to 2010.
In the upcoming semester, the campus will host employees from a local Esri office for a presentation on how GIS is being used in everyday life by different companies. In addition, I look forward to sharing my experience with more people on campus and building a relationship that will last many years to come. I believe that building this relationship is the most rewarding part of being a Campus Ambassador because I have the opportunity to connect students and faculty to a company whose product is a central and integral part of geography education.
Editor’s Note: Has Christian’s experience inspired you to learn more about Esri’s Internship Program? Lots of good info at www.esri.com/students including profiles of former interns and the projects they worked on last summer. We’re taking applications for 2013 now!