Category Archives: Students and Recent Grads

A New Network for Budding GIS Professionals

By Citabria Stevens, ArcNews editor

There are countless ways to enter the field of GIS and, with a bit of imagination and creativity, even more ways to use the technology.

This notion of limitless possibilities was the overarching theme of a series of events put on by the Young Professionals Network (YPN) at the 2015 Esri User Conference in San Diego, California. The YPN, in its inaugural year, offers budding GIS professionals—of any age—the opportunity to network with peers and meet some of the most dynamic and influential people in GIS.

Following two well-attended social events and two panel discussions—one on promoting the value of GIS and one on the GIS professional of tomorrow—the YPN rounded out the weeklong conference with a question-and-answer session with Esri founder Jack Dangermond and three quite distinct, and relatively new, Esri leaders.

The session began with the three Esri directors—Andrew Turner, chief technology officer of Esri’s research and development office in Washington, DC; Robin Jones, director of Esri’s tech sector; and David DiBiase, Esri’s education team leader—explaining how they got into GIS and ended up at Esri.

The diverse panel then fielded questions from an even more heterogeneous audience—GIS degree-holders and self-taught practitioners; GIS managers and undergraduate students; people working for local US governments and others from abroad.

The audience asked for advice about education and work experience: Why is GIS largely only available as a subject of study rather than a major? Is it more important to get work experience or receive a master’s degree? They inquired about how to reveal the power of GIS to those who don’t know about it and wondered the best ways to mentor others: How can we educate our managers on the usefulness of GIS? What are the most practical ways to mentor people with varying levels of GIS knowledge?

Answers from the panel were candid and encouraging. Interest in GIS is growing, said DiBiase, so he expects to see a dozen bachelor’s degree programs in GIS within the next decade. Jones encouraged young GIS professionals to actually show their managers how GIS solves problems. “A demo is worth a million words,” she added. And Turner said that listening is as much a part of mentoring as teaching, urging members of the audience to engender an environment of trust around their work.

When Dangermond entered the room, the conversation shifted to the YPN itself and how it can grow.

“Fundamentally, good friendship is most important in life,” Dangermond told the audience, recounting what an elderly man in Japan once told him. “I want to see a great network occur,” he continued, “where you get together again and again and you have fun, actually, and you learn from your friends.”

Dangermond believes that people learn things in the context of good friendship because trust comes through camaraderie. “There’s nothing like hearing from your friends because they actually share . . . experience to experience,” he said.

And a solid network is what fuels career growth. As Turner said, finding and showing your managers and coworkers that they can have confidence in you is what gets young GIS professionals more projects—whether they’re working as the lone GIS technician in a company or building a startup from scratch.

Dangermond gave some perspective from his own career as well. As someone who was trying to use computers to fix problems when computers were still relatively obscure, he said everyone thought he was nuts. So he found out what people needed—became interested in what they wanted rather than a guy with interesting ideas—and then he did it.

“That’s the secret to your success,” Dangermond said. “Figure out what the world needs and wants.” And then do it. “Get the work, do the work, make sure you get paid,” he advised. Those are Dangermond’s three principles for pursuing any endeavor in GIS.

He also believes that people need to follow their own curiosities. “You guys all chose this field, didn’t you?” Dangermond asked. He then inquired if members of the audience remembered the moment they decided that GIS was what they wanted to do.

Dangermond’s moment was on November 7, 1968. That’s when he realized that “this is it,” as he put it—that he had ambitions to make a difference with this technology. “You’ve chosen the love of my life,” he stated to a rapt audience.

Even through the ensuing laughter, everyone’s respect for the love of Dangermond’s life—the field of GIS—was evident. As the field continues to grow, it seems that so will this community of young GIS professionals.

Some YPN participants will likely take DiBiase’s advice and pursue GIS Professional (GISP) recognition and Esri Technical Certifications, which he says will help formalize expertise and a community of practice. Some will continue breaking the rules and creating new ones, as Jones advocated, to keep raising the bar of what GIS professionals do.

Regardless of how members of the YPN develop their careers, the field of GIS will continue to attract people from all over the world with a myriad of interests and professional aspirations. And that will allow the Esri YPN to become increasingly indispensable.

To become part of this journey, join the YPN community.

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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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Former Esri Intern’s Contributions to Ebola Response

When Olivia Hollenhorst started her Esri internship in the summer of 2014, she probably never dreamed she would one day be accompanying her colleagues to Geneva, Switzerland, to help map the Ebola outbreak. Upon completion of her internship, she was hired last September full time, and continued working on the health and public safety team in our Professional Services Division. That’s where she received the opportunity to spend a month working with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.

The experience in Geneva allowed Olivia to combine her interest in GIS with her educational background in global public health. “My undergraduate degree was in public health, focusing on international public health. Near the end of my undergraduate career, I added on a GIS certificate with the hopes of somehow mashing them together. This internship and the consequent full-time work was great because it allowed me to explore what I could do with my two interests,” she said. Olivia is now going back to school at University of Washington to pursue her master’s in human geography with a concentration in infectious disease mitigation and management using GIS.

When asked why she wants to work with diseases she replied, “I like how a community responds to crisis and how they come together and problem-solve on the fly, really quick, to try and come up with a solution that can solve the immediate problem. That always rolls into a more sustainable effort to solve future problems that would arise.”

In time sensitive projects like this, getting accurate and up to date data is crucial. Olivia mentioned that one of the main difficulties of working on the project was coordinating and organizing data coming from multiple sources into a standard useable format. “We were getting data from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, but it was all coming in different schemas, at different times, and was going into all these different data hubs. We had to pull it back together and compile it in standard format,” she explained. With the help of the Esri Ebola response team, the WHO created daily briefing maps on disease distribution and resource location for internal use and weekly Map Journal Situation Reports for public consumption.

Would she go back abroad and do something similar in the future? “Oh yeah, absolutely,” Olivia exclaimed. “I would love to do any sort of emergency response or infectious disease work. I definitely want to do international GIS work related to health.”

For all of your future endeavors Olivia, we wish you good luck and hope you enjoy your time in your master’s program.

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Interns Gain Insight During “Meet the Managers” Sessions

Esri interns recently had the unique opportunity to hear from managers of different departments to learn more about the work their teams do. With the chance to ask questions to the managers, the interns became more knowledgeable in what Esri does throughout the entire company rather than just the end product. All the managers did a great job engaging the interns during their speeches and we were grateful for the opportunity.

Check out the Esri Student Connection page on Facebook for more photos!

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Are You Made for Tech Support?

At a recent brown bag lunch for interns, a young professional, Kara, from Technical Support came to speak about what Esri looks for in a potential employee.

Relaxing after work

After graduating with a degree in geography, Kara became an intern at the Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank. With encouragement from her aunt, a geography professor at the University of Redlands, she pursued a job at Esri in Technical Support.

Kara spoke to the interns about her department and shredded any misconceptions of working in Technical Support. She showed the interns how being part of her department can be a stepping stone to a long-term career with Esri.

When hiring for the department, many would be intrigued to know what the most important characteristics are that hiring staff look for. Here are the four characteristics they look for in order of must have to teachable.

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