Impressions of a GIS Intern

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Anthony Calderon, a GIS intern with the City of Santa Clarita and a Geography student at California State University, Northridge, shares his experiences in this guest article.

Geographic Information Systems is a fast growing field of technology, and new waves of students armed with the education of GIS are growing in great numbers. The new generation of GIS students is ready to take on the New World of GIS, but like any other new intern, the fear of entering a new work place can bestressful and down right frightening. Like myself, I too was ready for the world of new challenges; however, my experience in the work field was limited to the classroom. New students often ask themselves “where do I start, and what will I need to know before I apply for a GIS Intern job”. Just like any other job in the industry, students have to start somewhere.

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Impressions of a GIS Intern

The experience from interning has great benefits for the student, giving them the chance to gain the understanding of what it’s like to put their practical knowledge to use in the work environment. Interning should be viewed as a learning experience and not as a demanding job; it is an extension of the classroom. This is a starting point to expose new students to the different types of software and training needed in the work environment to help them gain the valuable working skills needed for future employment opportunities. In some cases, students may experience several internships before they graduate with a degree to become a full time GIS Analyst.

There are many opportunities to find work as an intern. One way to search for an internship is to speak to your instructor; in many certificate programs it is part of the curriculum to become an intern which are arranged by the instructor; In these cases the opportunity for pay may be limited. If pay is a factor many students research their own job searches by contacting different cities and agencies through the Internet. Many city governments are on the ground floor of implementing GIS into their plans of managing their data. Taking advantage of city government jobs is a great opportunity and a good way to gain on the job experience. Other ways of find internships is to go to the different seminars and user group meetings; this is a great way to network and gain insight on what is ahead. These meeting were designed for other companies and city governments to gather andto discuss GIS, making yourself available for these types conferences can only help lead into job opportunities.

During the internship phase of building a career in GIS, students will learn the different types of software and hardware technology available in the field. In some case they will learn how to build web-based maps like ArcIMS (ESRI’s Internet Mapping Server). Along with learning, IMS interns will be exposed to the different types of Internet languages, beginning with HTML; which is the ground work of all web languages, and leading into others, such as, JavaScript, Jscript, ASP. In other internships, students may have the opportunity to work with GPS (Global Positioning Systems). GPS enhances data collection and accuracy of maps out in the field when doing research. The learning curve of an intern depends on what is offered at each internship job, this is why students have the opportunity to work in several internship positions. The experience is different in each job position can vary from each employer.

My internship has proven to be successful and challenging so far, and new challenges occur on a daily basis, from learning GPS to web languages. I have found the experiences gained from my internship to be gratifying. Internships will be different in for each individual, resulting in distinct experiences and opportunities.



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