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.

As an intern, I am having a great time learning from a large and respectable corporation. I have been a writer for this blog, contributed to one of their Facebook pages, and have helped with events for the interns to participate in. It has been a great experience working for Esri, especially since they are the world leader in geographic information system (GIS) software development. Even though I did not have a GIS or geography background, I still got the opportunity to learn how to use their products and made a few story maps because of it. The best part has been that they are a company that helps make positive changes in the world, and that makes this internship experience a dream come true.

Although my Esri internship is coming to a close, I am looking forward to heading back to Penn State for my final year. During my final year I will be a campus ambassador for Memry Labs and a social media coordinator for Lion 90.7. As a senior, I want to improve my real-world experience and make connections to last a lifetime. So, here I come senior year and watch out world!

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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.

As a collegiate athlete Max has to train year-round to be ready for competition. Each summer he has the goal to run a hundred miles a week by the end of the summer. This year he is at the goal of 80, since he was injured this past year. “I’ll start at 20 miles a week and then try to build up to 100 miles a week by the end. So my ability to get to 100, or how quickly I can get there, is dependent on how healthy I am.”  Regardless of this injury, the amount of miles he runs throughout the summer is incredibly impressive.

When asked about how he felt about winning Max responded with, “It felt great. I haven’t won a race in a while since the competition’s pretty stiff at school. And it was a pretty big turnout. A lot of people were out there running, so it’s nice to get a win. And it was the fastest I’ve run the 5K since I don’t really run this distance in college, so I was happy about that.”

We wish Max the best of luck in his running and his future career endeavors.

To view the results and times of the Esri UC runners, check out this site.

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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.

Third Place: 3D Badgers with Saver

  • The saver application is used to make the local experience better. It takes local discounts from Esri benefits and creates an easily accessible map. On the map you can look up discounts based on the category. You can then like the place you went to and show how much you enjoyed it. This information can be used by Human Resources to show how much business Esri employees are really giving these establishments. Saver: Be a local anywhere.

Second Place: AlphaX with 3WDM

  • 3WDM stands for 3 Ws Decision Maker, and this application is used to support aid agencies in natural disasters. With United Nations data from the Nepal earthquake they demonstrated how people in the field could use the application to efficiently help in a crisis. The map will determine who is going to need help in a distressed area and how to avoid duplication among field agents. You can add information based on what disaster they are trying to help with and if supplies are needed. They also have a widget that shows the information and where they need money so donations can be collected. This application can be used for any future disaster.

First Place: GeoThinkers with Map My Friends

  • Can you not find your friends around you? Are they still on their way to meet you? You would know with this application, which can locate your friends and updates every few seconds to give you the best route to get to them. Don’t waste time getting to where your friends said they would be. Get a live update from their actual position and meet your friends more efficiently.

Great job to all the interns who participated!

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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.

Life on Campus – Ramiro Barbuzano, Jr.

  • Fun Fact: Dolphin Trainer
  • Walk on the Beach or Ride a Horse: Swim on the beach with dolphins.
  • Vegetable you Resemble: Sweet Potato because I am nice and golden.
  • Spirit Animal: Dolphin
  • Your Hero: Mom and Dad
  • Last Movie Seen: Divergent

Esri in the World – Kelsey Arbuckle

  • Fun Fact: I can lick my elbow.
  • Walk on the Beach or Ride a Horse: Ride a horse, sand grosses me out.
  • Vegetable you Resemble: Celery because I have the curls up top and I am really tall.
  • Spirit Animal: Wild and Free Bird … oops I meant Zebra.
  • Your Hero: Mama Arbuckle also known to the common folk as Lisa.
  • Last Movie Seen: Trainwreck with my Mama.

Intern Experience – Jennifer Laws

  • Fun Fact: Even though I’m from Hawaii, I don’t know how to surf because I’m irrationally afraid of getting attacked by a shark.
  • Walk on the Beach or Ride a Horse: Walk on the beach, horses are cute but they smell bad.
  • Vegetable you Resemble: A carrot because I literally turned orange when I was a baby from eating too many carrots!
  • Spirit Animal: A penguin because I am both graceful and clumsy.
  • Your Hero: My parents
  • Last Movie Seen: Spy, because Melissa McCarthy is HILARIOUS!

Most Creative – Kati Burroughs

  • Fun Fact: Texas is the best. That’s fun and a fact.
  • Walk on the Beach or Ride a Horse: Ah, yikes. Maybe a walk downtown on the way to a restaurant? I’m more of a city girl. Riding a horse is on my bucket list though.
  • Vegetable you Resemble: Yellow squash, because of my hair obvs.
  • Spirit Animal: Buzzfeed says a hummingbird so we’ll go with that.
  • Your Hero: I’m going to be cliche and say my Dad.
  • Last Movie Seen: In Theaters: Inside Out. At home: Inception.

All Natural – Ian Manning

  • Fun Fact: I once spent a summer working as a forest health technician in Manning, Alberta.
  • Walk on the Beach or Ride a Horse: Ride a horse on the beach.
  • Vegetable you Resemble: String Bean
  • Spirit Animal: Common Nighthawk
  • Your Hero: Chris Manning (Father)
  • Last Movie Seen: Big Hero Six on the Digby – St. John Ferry

Winner Overall – Iffat Chowdhury

  • Fun Fact: I can fight with a tiger, but not with a cockroach.
  • Walk on the Beach or Ride a Horse: Walk on the beach because I don’t want to give stress to a poor horse.
  • Vegetable you Resemble: Tall cucumber.
  • Spirit Animal: Cats. Their laziness and yawning always motivates me.
  • Your Hero: My graduate adviser. (Don’t tell him, otherwise he will mess with my degree.)
  • Last Movie Seen: Minions

With so many entries the judges had a hard time choosing the winners, but in the end these beautiful pictures were selected to be featured at a lunch attended by the interns, their mentors, and Esri president Jack Dangermond.

Five of the winners from the photo contest.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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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.

Among them was Jasmine Sohal, a recent graduate of Fleming College and a new employee of Esri Canada. Jasmine found her passion for GIS through her classes and actually used ArcGIS in them, which is how she found out about Esri. “I was at university and I found out that you could take GIS courses, so I decided to take my first one and with that, I realized GIS is exactly where I want to be.” Jasmine has her whole career ahead of her, and with an open mind she is looking forward to the future.

Other student assistants showed great vision for what they want to do in their future, like Joel Jeyarajah. “My goal is to be more into the transportation planning in my city. I would really want to get involved with helping improve our traffic because it is horrible in Toronto. I’d like to go into governments and different municipalities and help them, maybe as a consultant. That’d be cool.” GIS can be used in many different industries and helping map out better streets to make a city less congested is a great example of how GIS can improve quality of life.

While some have a clear vision of what they want to do with GIS, some like Martina Talacchia who is from Italy, knows her path is just beginning to be sculpted. She summarized her experiences in GIS and at the UC with this quote by Yogi Berra: If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else. “Since I came here, I can see more clearly where I’m going and so I really recommend this experience to other people.” After experiencing the assistantship she had more direction for herself for what she wants to do in the future.

Each student I talked to commented they were not sure how likely it would be they would get the assistantship after applying, but if you never apply you will never find out! Don’t hesitate on an opportunity of a lifetime; check the Esri careers website this fall for information on applying for the 2016 UC student assistantship program.

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Mabel Ney Talks R&D, UX, and UC

Esri staff in our R&D Centers have ongoing collaboration with development teams in Redlands through regular phone calls and video conferences, but they also come here several times a year for meetings and personal interaction with teams. Mabel Ney from the Portland, Maine R&D was in town recently for just such a visit, so I took the opportunity to get to know her and the work she’s doing.

How did you find your way to Esri?

I got my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at the School of Visual Arts in New York and worked in advertising there for a while. My husband and I eventually moved to Maine and we both ended up at a mapping company called DeLorme. Esri uses their data, so often times when you look at a web map, you’ll see DeLorme as one of the sources. I worked there for 11 years. I started as a traditional cartographer working on films, transitioned to digital cartography, and finally to Director of Research and Development.

I left there when I became interested in user-centered design. I went into consulting and focused on information architecture and user experience design. The job for Esri came up in Portland—certainly I was aware of Esri because of DeLorme, and several people from DeLorme had gone to Esri. I wasn’t looking to change, but it was Esri and it was in my own backyard. It sounded like a really good opportunity…very user-centered, a really interesting design process. It mingled with the process I was familiar with, but took it a bit beyond, where everybody on the team was much more involved. That was very appealing.

Going from a graphic design background into what you’re doing now—is that out of the ordinary, or are more and more people doing that?

Oftentimes people who go into user experience design either come in from a graphic design background, interestingly from a library science background, or a technical writing background. They’re interested in helping people find information in a very user-friendly way, helping them on their path and supporting that visual learning aspect we have. So it’s a likely transition for them.

How would you describe what your typical workday is like?

I primarily work on design documents. I white board out and sketch the flow of what I think the path will be as you move from screen to screen. As I’m doing that, I will pull the developer over and have them validate what I’m doing. If it’s something bigger or more complex, we’ll have a design session in which we bring in a couple of designers, some developers, and QA engineers. We’ll all take a stab at sketching ideas and start to see how that comes together until we have an agreed-upon design.

I also try to have touch points with our customers routinely. I get out of the office to be with our customers or be on a phone call with them so I can discuss things that are perplexing us at that time. We have some questions, we don’t know the answers, and we want to hear from people who will actually use the product. We’re trying to do even more of that and get the broader team out to do that as well. I’ve also been working on animations, which is really fun to do. There’s really good tools right now to do that.

What about your work keeps you challenged?

The depth of challenge at Esri is really what holds my attention. In other jobs I’ve had, there was a very narrow customer base, and you knew them really well. But here, you can talk with somebody from city government and you can talk with five different agencies and start to see a pattern, but then you go over to somebody in utilities and it’s totally different. They have all these other considerations you have to think about. So now I feel like when I design, I’m designing for at least five different personas, where before it was one or two.

And with Esri customers, they want everything to be as good as it can be too. They want to be part of that solution, so they open the doors and say, “Yes, come on over. Talk with us. We’ll give you time.” They understand the importance of doing that and it benefits them in the long run.

Do you work with a particular product, or across the whole ArcGIS platform?

Typically I am involved and focused on one product, but I do design reviews for the other designers on the other products. This way we can make sure that across the platform, there’s a consistent experience. You never feel like you’re focused only on one product.

What do you feel makes Esri different as an employer. You talked about the scope of work and the customers. Is there anything else?

Yeah, the benefits are crazy good. When I was told that not only I would be covered, but my husband would be fully covered, I was like, “Wait, what?” One thing I notice when I come to Redlands is that you see these long-term friendships. People run into each other and you can tell they’ve known each other for 12, 16 years. You don’t get that in many companies—that long-term relationship. And yet, they’re very accepting of new people into that relationship, it’s not closed off.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The DevSummit and the User Conference are amazing for employees to be able to go to. If you are in development of products or marketing, it’s nice to see what everybody’s working on and how they relate to each other. Last year I was fairly new and we were just starting to talk about mobile web, an aspect of what we were working on, and this tool called PhoneGap. It just happened that somebody from the team who was using PhoneGap was walking through. I heard them say something about it and said, “Wait a minute, this is what we’re talking about. Can you come over and talk to us?” Even if you were here at Redlands, you may not have heard that conversation, but it’s because everybody is huddled up suddenly. To have that open dialogue is an awesome opportunity.

Want to join Mabel and the rest of the Portland team? Check out current openings.

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Happenings in SoCal This Weekend

As promised, we have more happenings around Southern California for the weekend of July 24th to 26th. This weekend we have a great assortment of new activities from live jazz, a salsa festival, and the World Games for the Special Olympics!

  • For those who want to get the summer heated up, head to the Oxnard Salsa Festival on July 25th and 26th. Dozens of vendors, amazing bands, and great dancing will be creating a buzz at this event. Head over to the Festival to break out some moves and listen to great music.
  • The Angelus Plaza has been hosting Afternoon of Jazz for the past few years and on July 24th they will be again. Make sure to check out this event to see some of the great names in the business and enjoy some great jazz.
  • The Special Olympics World Games are taking place in Los Angeles from July 25th to August 2nd. These games have been occurring since 1968 all around the world and they are now finally coming back to Los Angeles. Come to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum to see the opening ceremony and the games.

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Interns Let Loose and Play Some Mario Kart

In the technical industry there are so many serious components throughout a company. It is always nice when you have the opportunity to let loose and have some fun with your peers. With the majority of the interns now working during the summer, we recently got together to have a friendly competition of Mario Kart. We began with three brackets and by the end of the competition we had our bracket winners going for the grand prize.

Even the interns who did not make it all the way to the finals had a great time mingling and meeting some people from outside of their own department. Life after college can sometimes be scary and unknown, so having the opportunity to let loose and enjoy time with our peers is always enjoyable.

In the end the three bracket winners competed for movie tickets and bragging rights at the first Mario Kart Madness Competition. While Addison, Tim, and Dan karted to the winners circle, Dan took the lead, the trophy, the movie tickets, and his bragging rights home with him that day. Until next year’s competition, keep your karting skills dusted off and ready to rumble.  

Pictured left to right
Dan Barnes, Tim Furlow, Addison King

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Never a Dull Moment During SoCal Summers

Whether you are new to the area or are a California native, there is always something new to find that is going on around Redlands and other areas of Southern California. There is something out there for everyone! Here are just a few of the events we found taking place this weekend for all you adventure seekers out there.

  • Santa Monica always has something going on at the promenade and this weekend is no different. Cinema on the Street on Friday is featuring Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Why wouldn’t you want to explore the beach with a classic movie playing in the background? Sounds like a great time on the promenade.
  • If you are not in the mood for Willy Wonka and want to watch a newer kids movie, the City of Pico Rivera is having Movies Under the Stars and on Friday is featuring Paddington. Don’t forget to get there early to save a great spot and possibly get some free popcorn before it runs out.
  • If by the end of the weekend you still want to get out and about in Southern California, check out the Santa Monica History Museum’s Family Hands on History Day. On July 19th the theme will be Pacific Ocean Park. They promote hands-on experience, so youth who attend have better and more positive memories of history.

See you next week for more happenings throughout the summer.

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