By Maura, Strategic Marketing Intern
The weekend before geo-geeks invade San Diego, California for the annual Esri International User Conference, 60 student assistants from around the world have already checked in. Their help is imperative in making sure the UC goes through without—or at least with the fewest amount of—glitches. Selectively chosen in relation to their major and interests, these students act behind the scenes of the UC, working in the Esri Store, helping with workshops, and playing a part in making sure the overall conference runs smoothly.
For a week they are unofficial Esri “employees,” mingling with top names in every department and every company known to the GIS world. Ellen Barry from Bowling Green State University explains, “I applied because it’s a cool opportunity to be where all other GIS users were, united. I love Esri products and this is a great place to be.”
Over lunch, the students discussed the workshops on Tribal communities they attended, traded GIS tips for projects they were working on for their internships at home, and exclaimed awe over the new advances made in ArcGIS 10.2. They trade one another for the collectable Esri buttons—or “swag” as some call it—found in hidden locations of the convention center, and recall meeting students from the i.am.angel Foundation when will.i.am spoke at the plenary. The amount of knowledge and networking opportunities they have in one short week is overwhelming: “I want to do everything and go everywhere here!” Ellen says.
However, it’s not all work and no play for the student assistants. The group is spending the week exploring the historic Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, enjoying the dining and nightlife. They plan to explore a Blues Jam bar and attend a Padres baseball game together. The experience is just as much about meeting the other assistants as it is learning about new advances in GIS. “This is a great opportunity, from content, to things going on, and interacting with people. I know everyone’s name that’s working here, where they come from, etc.,” student assistant Chris Dickerson of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee explains.
Yanan Li of the University of Tennessee says, “It’s rewarding when UC attendees say I’m useful. I like directing people to find the right answer and helping them.” Lindsay Li (right) agrees, “Every job is meaningful and helps the entire conference.”
Overall, the student assistantship program is a truly unique experience, allowing current leaders in GIS to interact with the next generation.
Interested in applying to be a student assistant for the 2014 Esri UC? We’ll begin taking applications this fall. In the meantime, take a few minutes to learn more about the Student Assistantship Program.