Category Archives: Students and Recent Grads
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!
Dawn Wright (a.k.a. “Deepsea Dawn”) is Esri’s Chief Scientist as well as an ocean scientist, geographer, and GIS author. There isn’t much this neat lady doesn’t do! Her work at Esri involves formulating and advancing the intellectual agenda for the environmental, conservation, climate, and ocean sciences aspect of Esri’s work while also representing Esri to the international scientific community.
Although she works full-time for Esri, Dawn continues to maintain professorial status at Oregon State University in the geography and oceanography departments. She has worked with students many years, and as such, has some great advice to share.
As someone who has worked with students for a while, why do you think an internship is so important to a student’s success?
Despite the best efforts of professors there are just some things we’ll never be able to replicate in the classroom, so that’s why an internship experience is so valuable. There is nothing like having the opportunity to interact with people in the real-world setting of a company or agency, to extend one’s GIS skills while working on projects with that organization, or certainly to pick up some completely new skills. I think an internship is also a great way for students to experience some of the different “time frames” that exist in working environments outside of the school environment. It’s one thing to be under pressure to get a term paper in on time, and yet another to see some of the other kinds of pressure that are associated with getting out the next major release of commercial software, generating results for a consulting project that may affect how and where people live, or meeting deadlines for a major conference or trade show.
If someone’s interests or career path changes while they’re in school, what would be your advice to them?
Great question! My advice would be to go with that flow and learn as much as you can about that new career path you’re interested in. Find someone in that area who is willing to give you some advice, or do the requisite Internet research to find out about blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter streams, local and regional conferences in that particular area. Talk to other students who are currently on that particular career path. And … get an internship in that area too!
What are some “mistakes” you have seen students make in terms of finding their future career?
One mistake I’ve seen students make is to get discouraged if their expectations are not fulfilled immediately. I’ve seen some expect a high-salaried position in their area of choice to be available soon after graduation, and failing that (especially in today’s economy), they want to give up. It is so worth it to be patient and stay with a particular area, especially if that’s your passion. On the flip side, I’ve also seen students take on a position that may be related to their chosen career before they are finished with their degree. I’m a real strong proponent of students finishing their entire degree program before taking on full-time employment toward a career. Not only does finishing the degree lend the full complement of knowledge available to them through coursework, thesis work, and yes, internship work, but there is little to compare with the maturity gained by a student who has seen the degree through to its ultimate completion. I’m also against college athletes entering the draft before they can finish school, but that’s a huge conversation for another day!
What is your #1 tip for a new graduate starting their career?
Be a sponge – learn all you can from the people around you. Seek out a mentor in your workplace (hopefully it’s your supervisor but oftentimes it’s an experienced co-worker). Be humble.
What is one thing you wished someone had told you back when you were in college?
Watch out for the “freshman fifteen” weight gain (in my day it was only “the freshman ten,” but it’s weight gain nonetheless)! Seriously though, I do wish someone had told me about the importance of an internship! In my day, internships were not as prevalent, nor were they as valued, but it is wonderful to see that change almost completely, especially with companies and other kinds of organizations offering such excellent internship programs. Another thought, especially for undergraduates, is that an internship does not necessarily mean you have to leave campus. There are some Esri interns who may still have a way to go before finishing their degrees, and thus additional internship opportunities may be great for them. The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs on many university campuses is one great example.
What drew you to Esri? What’s your favorite part about Redlands?
I was very fortunate in that Jack Dangermond and Scott Morehouse asked me to come work at Esri (and the deal included the requirement that I come here to headquarters). They also asked at a perfect time in my professional life when I needed a major change. My favorite part about Redlands is the people. I love the friendly, down-to-Earth nature of the folks here in the Redlands community, which I think is a breath of fresh air in Southern California culture. The friendliness of Redlands people reminds me a lot of Oregon, which is where I moved here from.
Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your wisdom!
By Guest Blogger Swatantra, 2014 UC Student Assistant
The Esri User Conference is a Place for Unity, Enthusiasm, Entertainment, Awesomeness, Friendships, Interactions, Relationships, Learning, and Understanding.
My first visit to San Diego, California was outstanding and I think I made the most out of it. It was my first participation in the Esri User Conference and I feel honored to have had the opportunity. Acquiring a student assistantship position is very competitive and I feel lucky to have been one of 60 student assistants in 2014. The week was all about geography, geographic information systems (GIS), and understanding our world. A conference assistantship is an exclusive opportunity for students who have an interest in GIS. We were a union of students from across the globe. A team of friendly and generous Esri staff members guided us for the whole week. All the assistants were assigned a set of tasks to help Esri staff during conference events. Our overall job was to make sure that the conference logistics ran smoothly. We worked all weekend and half days during the week. This schedule allowed me to participate in technical workshops and interact with attendees during our leisure time.
By Guest Blogger Melanie, Story Maps Team Intern
Open Spaces, Open Collaboration
When I first stepped into the Washington, DC R&D Center, I was struck by the space. Wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows opened up a magnificent panoramic view of the capital with a spotlight on the Washington Monument. I spent many moments throughout my summer observing the city’s pulse. “It’s so alive,” I thought as I watched cars crossing the Potomac River via 6 separate bridges, planes passing above on their way to/from Reagan International Airport, cyclists and people moving along the ground in a bustle, and of course the daily flock of kayakers, boaters, and paddle-boarders that floated around Theodore Roosevelt Island. This was a creative space.
I settled into my office in June. In the Story Maps team it was hard to tell who was “boss” and who was “intern.” I learned very quickly that there was no sense of “hierarchy” or “bureaucracy” here. We all worked together in a laissez-faire style. It felt strange at first, but I adapted easily and quickly learned that everyone was there to help me.
Esri’s Technical Support team is vital to the company’s success. They work with users daily on solving small problems and finding solutions. Scott Harris is a member of the team and says he’s finally found a job he loves.
Tell me about yourself. What is your background?
I took my first GIS class when I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree at Keystone College in Pennsylvania. I did a few projects while I was there, one of which was making some campus maps using ArcView 3.2 (which seems primitive today). I ended up getting my degree in Environmental Resource Management and then spent a bit of time out of the GIS field doing environmental testing. After that I became a GIS tech for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where again I was using Esri software. Later I went back for my master’s degree in geoenvironmental studies and then I ended up at Esri.
Although it feels like the summer just began, many of Esri’s summer interns are packing up and getting ready to go back to school or move on to the next phase of their lives (me included!). Over the last few weeks, interns have been getting up in front of their peers and presenting their work. So far there have been nine presentations and more will be happening over the next couple of weeks.
Here are some of the presentations we’ve seen so far. Hopefully these projects will give you a better idea of what Esri interns work on and where you might fit in next year’s program:
- Greg M., Technical Marketing: Worked to develop multiple model organizations and scenarios including energy companies and a tornado scenario.
- William I. & Victor B., Software Products, Geocoding Team: Built an app that allows users to request fixes or replacements to locations. For example, if a restaurant comes up on a map but it has actually been shut down for years, a user can make a request for the location or name to be changed.
- Dan M., Technical Marketing: Worked on developing demos and illustrations for the public safety sector, in particular a model national security and model law enforcement organization as well as a chemical spill and park security scenarios.
- Talisa T., Information Systems: Provided support in Esri conference rooms, making sure the technology was set up, working properly, and up-to-date. A lot of the Esri Conference Center’s work is done behind the scenes, but it is a vital part of keeping things running smoothly.
- Rami A., Solution Engineering, Geoplanner Team: Developed the Qaraoun Project that looked at issues with the lake and factored in zoning issues in Lebanon.
- Jennifer B., Software Products, Content Team: Worked on Esri’s Urban Observatory as well as two story maps about national poverty and the World Cup (read her guest blog here!).
- Katherine D. (Me), Strategic Marketing: Developed various content for careers materials, administrated the Esri Student Connection Facebook page, helped develop the campus ambassador program, and acted as the sole writer for the Esri Careers blog.
- Hector T-P., Database Services: Worked with Esri’s 3D software, CityEngine, to build content for the state of Oregon and create new rules to be added to the program.
- Randy H., Rebecca B., Chris F., and Eric D., Support Services: Working together, this team analyzed data referring to who watched the World Cup in relation to who plays soccer. They created and analyzed web maps, heat maps, and others to find their answers.
Really cool stuff, right? I hope the other interns have enjoyed working at Esri as much as I have. Wherever our futures take us, we will always have this summer and our experiences. Thank you to everyone who was a part of it!
Already thinking about what you want to do next summer? Esri is too! Check the website this fall for information on how to apply for a summer 2015 internship.
Recently the interns sat in on two presentations and interactive sessions with some of Esri’s HR partners (recruiters). Although interns have a good understanding of Esri’s departmental structure, these recruiter roundtable events helped give us a better idea of the opportunities we may have to work for Esri full time. This is especially helpful since the summer is winding down quickly!
By Guest Blogger Jennifer, Community Maps Program Intern
This September, I will be a senior at Santa Clara University, completing my B.S. in Environmental Studies and minor in Political Science. After taking some GIS courses and working as a GIS research and teaching assistant, I decided to apply for a summer internship at Esri. In making this decision, I hoped to learn more about the company that has been an influential player in developing products that have helped address and solve many environmental problems around the world.
I got the chance to sit down with Nate Ebel, who has only been back at Esri for a few weeks. Nate was an intern last year and now works full-time as a software engineer, but his start in GIS was . . . unexpected (and very cool!).
You were on the plenary stage at the Esri User Conference in 2002. Can you talk more about that?
When I was in seventh grade, I was part of a small class that was devoted to problem solving and data analysis with a large component of GIS. At the time, I had never heard of GIS, but after using the software to create maps and analyze data, we entered maps into the Esri Community Atlas. Everyone in the class contributed a couple of maps, and our project ended up being a sort of “model project” that year. Esri flew me, another classmate, and my teacher to San Diego and we presented a few of our maps on the UC stage. One of the other projects that came out of this class ended up continuing through high school, and we presented it in various places and won more awards. That ended up being what led me in the direction of GIS.
This is an actual quote from a recent SIGGRAPH attendee: “Think of everything that has ever made you geek out and feel so passionate about something in your whole life and put it into one feeling … That, my friend, is the feeling you get when being at SIGGRAPH.”
We couldn’t agree more! Once again, Esri will have a strong presence at SIGGRAPH, on the main exhibit floor as well as in the job fair. I sat down with HR team members Shawn and Jennifer to talk about what people who stop by our booth in the job fair can expect.