Author Archives: LeslieR

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Stretching the Limits of Technology: Systems Administrators at Esri

Whether you work for a small company or a large enterprise, there’s no doubt you rely on a systems administrator to keep your IT network performing at its best. I recently talked with Stephen, a sysadmin in our Information Systems and Technology group, about his role and what keeps him at Esri.

How long have you been with Esri?
I’ve been here 18 years. I didn’t realize when I first joined Esri what opportunities I’d have to continue growing and learning. I started as a desktop technician and grew into a lead position on that team before becoming a systems administrator supporting Product Development. Now I’m team lead for the Compute Team; we support all the backend servers that power Esri’s infrastructure such as Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, and our development environments.

What are some of the cool things about being a sysadmin at Esri?
There’s a lot of variety in what we do; every day can be different. We’re given the opportunity to present ideas and take on new projects, unlike at some other organizations. When you have a good idea, often you will end up leading the effort to carry it through. As a team lead, I find out what people want to do and work with them to get there.

Also, our department is heavily involved in the annual Esri User Conference, attended by about 16,000 customers and partners. Our sysadmins help get 1,200+ machines set up for the conference. We start about two months prior, getting them configured and ready to ship to San Diego, then we go on-site to get them all set up. A lot of organizations use contractors to do the IT setup for their big events, but we do all the work ourselves. It’s an interesting change of venue and pace and a neat thing to be part of every year.

In terms of technology, we’re always looking at the cutting edge. If the industry is moving a certain way, we ask ourselves what we can do to get there. Some of the things we ask of our systems are fairly complex. We tend to stretch things to the limit, sometimes to the point of puzzling the third-party vendor we’re working with. They usually haven’t thought out what we’re asking their system to do. It’s challenging work; you have to come up with unique ways of solving problems. For example, to support our customers running various versions of Esri software, we have an internal cloud that provides 13 different versions of Windows, each available in up to 22 different languages, as well as three different variants of Linux, each with multiple versions. Creating the automation to allow this in a self-service portal is one of the kinds of challenges we come across.

Other than technical skills, describe your ideal candidate.
Someone who loves what they’re working on and has the drive to find solutions. When they see something that’s not working, I don’t want them to just tell me about it—come to me with a solution and the drive to get it resolved. I look for those who have initiative and are willing to find a better way to do things.

What do you like about living in the Redlands area?
I love the small town feel of Redlands. And there are a lot of things to do nearby—it’s less than an hour to the mountains and about an hour to the beach. You can do so many things from here—get away and completely break free from your normal day-to-day in a short period of time.

Final thoughts?
I’ve been at Esri so long because I’ve had enormous opportunities here—Esri provides a huge breadth of technologies and experience. The work might be different if I went somewhere else, but I don’t feel I’ve missed anything by staying here. There’s no reason for me to go somewhere else.

Want to know more?

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Being at the Esri UC: “A Ridiculously Cool Feeling”

By Guest Blogger Rachel, Esri UC Student Assistant

When I got on the plane heading from New York to San Diego, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew there would be a lot of maps, and I knew I would be on my feet a lot, but “student assistant” was still a pretty vague term in my mind. Once I arrived, I quickly learned why – being a student assistant means many different things. From getting a behind-the-scenes look at the conference to learning what a banner stand is (and going on a scavenger hunt throughout the conference center to find them) to meeting thousands of fellow geogeeks, the week was an incredible whirlwind of people, activities, and – of course – maps.

While the first few days helping with set up and pre-registration were exciting, when Monday morning hit there was magic in the air. As the doors to the plenary opened and people started streaming in, all eager for the week ahead, the excitement and anticipation were contagious. Walking around the San Diego Convention Center (which, by the way, is an activity in itself – that building is enormous) and knowing that simply by being there you have something in common with 16,000 other people is a ridiculously cool feeling.

The entire conference was an unreal experience, but my favorite part was working at the Esri Store. Now, you may think that’s kind of weird and not really related to the conference. But in the store I got the chance to meet so many people, got to chat about things that may not have come up otherwise (conversations at checkout are the best kind of conversations!), and got to see people geek out over the same things I do (Superman GIS shirt, anyone??).

If you’ve been to the Esri UC you’ll probably nod your head at these, but for anyone who hasn’t been, here are some lessons I learned:

• It’s not the place to break in new shoes – no matter how comfortable they are.
• There is no way you can see everything. Sometimes the best way to choose a session is to go to the room closest to where you are. Eeny-meeny-miny-moe works too.
• It’s probably impossible to meet all 16,000 people at the conference, but social media means you can at least see how much fun they’re having!
• The map gallery is a giant room full of maps. Full. Of. Maps. Spend some time there.
• The student assistantship program is a fantastic way to get to a conference you may not otherwise have the chance to go to.
• If you’ve never been to the Esri UC and you get the chance, do it. Just go. You won’t regret it!

We’ll soon begin accepting applications for the 2015 Esri UC Student Assistantship Program. Stay tuned!

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Doors to Opportunity Opened for Esri UC Student Assistant

By Guest Blogger Lauren, Student at Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS)

If I could sum up my week in one word, it would be opportunity. The Esri User Conference Student Assistantship Program provided so many opportunities during the conference, and it truly becomes what you make of it. The choices I made during the week will have a long term effect, and seeking every opportunity possible opened many doors.

I first met some other student assistants for breakfast on Friday morning, thanks to the connections made through a Facebook group. Connecting with other students before working together allowed for a more relaxed atmosphere, as we were all a bit more comfortable with each other. After breakfast we made our way to the Convention Center, where we were greeted by our hosts Esri employees Terri, Peter, Noah, and Matt. Each of them were very inviting and informative, which was the perfect first impression of how the User Conference was going to be.

This year, 60 students from six countries were selected to participate in the Student Assistantship Program. Our main tasks involved registration, helping with the Esri Store, and overall conference logistics. Each student worked some full days and some half days. Before and after our shifts we were permitted to do as we pleased, so I spent much of my time at the Expo—startups and larger well-known companies promoting their products and services. I made many professional connections during my time at the Expo, which I felt was very rewarding. I also had the opportunity to take part in technical workshops. These were very informative and helpful, and I recommend anyone who has the opportunity to attend.

If time away from the Convention Center to wind down was needed, San Diego had much to offer. The central location of our hotel allowed for easy walking distance to anything we needed, which allowed time to explore the city. Unfortunately I did not have time to visit some of the attractions I had originally planned, although I was able to experience the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere San Diego offers.

The first piece of advice I would like to offer anyone reading this blog post is to take any opportunity that arises, including applying for this program! I guarantee it will open your eyes and provide a worthwhile perspective on the GIS industry; if not, it will provide useful skills for the future. My second piece of advice is to take time to extend your trip if possible, as it will allow you to focus most of your time on the professional aspects of the conference, and then time after may be spent at leisure. I visited Los Angeles with another student I met during the week and was thrilled with my experience there. My final piece of advice is to treat the entire week as a professional networking opportunity, one that may result in a job offer or interview from an unlikely or surprising source!

Overall, the week of the User Conference was one of the best weeks of my life. I had the chance to make some amazing contacts in the GIS industry and mingle with others who share similar interests. I can also say I have honestly made friends I will remain in contact with for years to come. I hope this post inspires some interest in the program, and I am honored to have been a part of it.

We’ll soon begin accepting applications for the 2015 Esri User Conference Student Assistantship Program. Visit our website this fall for details!

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Investing in STEM Education: Free Mapping Software for Public Schools

By Katherine, Strategic Marketing Intern

Recently President Obama called for businesses to create new opportunities for students through classroom technology. In his speech at the White House Science Fair this week, he spoke about some of the amazing innovations young students have created in the past year and emphasized there is still significant talent to be tapped.

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34 and Counting (Interns, That Is)

This week a group of 25 students began their summer internships at Esri, including several in regional offices, bringing the total to 34 to date. They represent schools from coast to coast across the US and as far away as Italy.

There will be several more “waves” of students arriving in the coming weeks. When the last one has filled out their paperwork and been shown to their office, we’ll have welcomed about 100 interns—a bit of Esri history in the making! They’ll be working in all areas throughout the company; one, Katherine, will be working with me to tell the Esri careers story. Watch for her posts over the next few months.

Welcome, interns. It’s going to be a great summer!

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Business Analysts at Esri: Influencing Decisions, Sharing Knowledge, Always Evolving

I recently had the opportunity to get to know two members of our IST Division, Diana and Dimitri. We talked about what it’s like being a business analyst at Esri, what motivates them, and what skills are most valued in new recruits.

How long have you been with Esri?
Diana: I’ve been here over 14 years; the last 8 have been in IST. Before that, I was in the US Air Force.
Dimitri: I started January 2012, and prior to that I was an SAP consultant for 16 years.

Do you each have a specialty within the business analyst role?
Diana: It’s expected that we have the general skills of a business analyst—requirements gathering, processes, communications—that type of collaboration is needed. But we each also have specialized skills where we understand a particular product—in my case, Salesforce—and can take those requirements and figure out how to build them into the system.
Dimitri: When I got hired, I had the HR background from both the business and the SAP side, so it was easy for me to transition into my role here. Additionally, my prior consulting experience gave me the skills I needed to be a successful business analyst at Esri.

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How Many Wheels Do You Need to Get to Work?

If you’re like many Esri employees, the answer is two! In celebration of National Bike to Work Day, two events were held on campus to raise awareness about the benefits of cycling to work. Continue reading

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Turning Trash into Training Dollars

Esri recently held an eWaste Recycle Day, with nearly 100 employees dropping off unwanted electronic items including computers, printers, monitors, TV sets, and cell phones. More than 5,600 pounds of equipment were donated to Goodwill, which processes it in an environmentally responsible way to help protect our planet from hazardous waste. The income Goodwill receives from the recycling program helps fund education, training, and job placement services for people with disabilities.

Truly a win-win. Happy Earth Day!

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Get to Know Redlands

From its very own circus to locally brewed orange-inspired beer, from 16 parks to a high school with a working farm, discover some of the reasons why we feel Redlands is special.

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Esri Career News for Students

A new issue of Esri News for Students and Recent Grads is now available online.

Included in this issue is information on summer programs (deadlines approaching!), careers for soon-to-be grads, Esri GeoDev Meetups, and more.

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