Behind the Scenes at the Esri UC

Each year, the Esri International User Conference (UC) brings together thousands of GIS professionals as well as social, economic, business, and environmental leaders from around the world to get the latest Esri product updates, learn from each other, and hear from incredible keynote speakers. This year’s theme was “GIS–Creating our Future.” Esri president Jack Dangermond urged conference attendees to think about the issues our world is facing and how we can combat them using GIS.

This year’s UC attracted more than 16,000 attendees and took up the entire San Diego Convention Center. Help was certainly needed to pull off this huge event! That’s where participants in the Esri UC Student Assistantship Program come in. The assistants help with everything from registration to conference logistics to working in the Esri Store. As a thank you for their hard work throughout the week, they receive registration to the conference and hotel accommodations as well as a per diem allowance for meals.

So what do the student assistants actually do? I was able to sit down and speak with a few of them to see what their roles were for UC.

Logistics: There are 60 assistants every year who arrive Friday before the conference begins. During their first couple of days they work and train for the week ahead to help make sure everything is ready for conference attendees to enjoy. During the week of the conference, their schedules are split. Thirty assistants work in the morning and 30 work in the afternoon. Everyone needs a break, right? This also gives students time to explore the vast conference and all that it offers.

Student assistants play a significant role in conference and hotel registration. All of the assistants pitch in to help get names sorted and badges printed. They also make sure attendees get to the right hotels. Prior to the start of the conference, this is crucial and their help makes a significant impact.

Technical Workshops: One of the main purposes of UC is to show users what’s new with Esri products and this is done through technical workshops. Student assistants were assigned to help with setting up technology, making sure the presenters had what they needed, and being the first line of defense if something went wrong.

Esri Store: One of the biggest attractions at UC is the store where conference attendees can find all sorts of Esri t-shirts, pens, books, coffee mugs, and much more. The student assistants spend much of their time rotating through the store helping customers with their purchases.

And more: Student assistants also spend their time helping with social media, setting up the conference banner stands and other equipment, and being “on call” in case they need to relieve someone.

It may be a part-time job, but their help is always immensely appreciated. The assistants were the first group to be thanked by Jack Dangermond at the close of the conference!

Interested in being a student assistant in 2015? Check the Esri Careers website in the fall for information on how to apply (AND make sure to block off the week of July 20-24 for UC 2015!),

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