An Intern’s Observation: The Power of ArcGIS

By Guest Blogger Brian, Support Services

I’m spending the summer as a Desktop Support Services Intern in the beautiful city of Charlotte, North Carolina, where Esri’s Eastern Support Unit is located. I am currently in between my first and second year of graduate school at Appalachian State University where I am continuing my studies in GIS and Renewable Energy site location. I received a B.S. degree in geography with a concentration in GIS from UNC Charlotte.

Staff from Esri’s Charlotte office consistently visit universities around the state, including Appalachian State, UNC Charlotte, and UNC Chapel Hill. During these visits, I had the great opportunity of meeting a number of support analysts and felt that Esri had a lot to offer, not only technically but the people seemed so happy and grateful for their job. Knowing that Esri is such a leader in geospatial technologies, it has always been my goal to land an internship or job here.

Brian (left) and support analyst Ian give two thumbs up
after helping a customer resolve an issue.

Being in a Technical Call Center was a little disconcerting at first, as I have always had the perception that support centers are just places where people read off scripts and provide basic troubleshooting steps to clients. “Turn off your modem, wait 30 seconds, plug it back in. What lights are being displayed?” This is not what Esri support is like in the least. We interact with our customers almost as though we are mini-consultants. We work through their problems with them and help them achieve their end goal. Every problem is different, and it is necessary to be fluent in all aspects of the technology because you never know what kind of call you are going to receive next. This has opened my mind to the power and potential held within ArcGIS.

The Charlotte office is located in the south portion of the city and is much smaller than Redlands. This has allowed me to interact, meet, and collaborate with raster, SDK, server, geodata, desktop, and implementation support analysts. It is definitely a tight-knit group of people who all thrive off each other’s energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge. While working on an issue dealing with local government templates, I had to consult with geodata, server, and desktop analysts to troubleshoot the issue. This is just an example of how collaboration is key. No one knows everything but everyone knows something, and when you add up the collective GIS wizardry of this office, any problem can be solved.

Testing ArcPad issues
with a Trimble Recon.

In college, I have mostly concentrated on raster analysis and GIS modeling, which I quickly found out was a very small piece of the Esri suite. When going through technical training, I realized that GIS users are very diverse. In Support Services we receive issues from business analysts, planners, government agencies, environmental agencies, and many other private firms who all use GIS for different purposes.  Because of this, I have been exposed to a plethora of users that all use GIS for their own niche tasks, and this experience has come to showcase how GIS is becoming a limitless and ubiquitous technology.

My time at Esri has been intellectually stimulating, filled with an arsenal of problem solving tactics, an array of workarounds to solve problems, and behind-the-scenes insights. I’ve always known that ArcGIS was an enormous suite of software, but to actually be on the front lines of this has been enlightening, to say the least.

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