Along with a solid foundation in GIS related coursework, a GIS internship is a must-have in developing strong GIS skills.
Finding a GIS Internship
Developing your real world experience using GIS is a necessity for finding a geospatial job after you’ve completed your coursework.
Almost all entry-level GIS positions (these are jobs that usually have the title technician and specialist) require some previous work experience.
The best way to develop your GIS work experience, build on the spatial concepts from your classes, and network, is through an internship.
As an apprentice position, interns acquire hands-on knowledge of geospatial technologies under the mentorship of more experienced GIS users. Finding a GIS internship isn’t always easy and requires some strategizing and legwork by the job seeker.
If you are currently in a degree-program, the first place to start to look for an internship is through your local college resources.
The geography department and urban planning department guidance counselors often receive communications from local companies and government agencies which can include internships.
Also check with your local college job center for leads on GIS related internships.
Online Job Listing Sites
The various GIS related job listing sites will occasionally post GIS internships.
You should also browse through the GIS listings on Internships.com for possible leads.
Keep in mind that many internships may only be listed on the employer’s web sites so keep a bookmarked list of the job listings for local agencies and companies that have a GIS and regularly visit them.
For example, Esri’s summer internships, which they call “assistantships” are available on their web site.
Also use the social media resources of Twitted and LinkedIn.
Typing in the hashtags #gis #jobs will yield a list of Tweets promoting geospatial jobs.
There are job boards attached to every group in LinkedIn and there is a particular group devoted to GIS/GPS Jobs. You can also search across LinkedIn for posted jobs.
Word-of-mouth is a great way to find internships.
Attend local GIS User group meetings, conferences, and workshops where you can meet GIS professionals and potentially find out about available opportunities.
Contact GIS professionals in your local area and ask them if they know of any leads.
Use social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) to help you to find geospatial internships.
Create Your Own Internship
If you’ve exhausted all of your options out there without success, consider creating your own internship.
When I was looking for an internship, I ended up volunteering my time with the local National Park Service office.
Check with the local nonprofits that could use some GIS help and offer to volunteer in exchange for work experience.
A quick recap of how to find a GIS internship
- Check job boards and internship websites: Check job boards and internship websites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Internships.com, and USAJOBS.gov. You can search for GIS internships by location, keywords, and company names.
- Reach out to local government agencies: Local government agencies such as city, county, or state planning and environmental departments often have GIS internship programs. Reach out to these agencies to inquire about opportunities and learn about their application process.
- Look for internships in private companies: Private companies such as environmental consulting firms, engineering firms, and software companies may offer GIS internship programs. Check their websites or reach out to them directly to ask about potential internship opportunities.
- Attend career fairs and events: Attend career fairs and events focused on GIS, geography, or environmental science. This can provide an opportunity to meet potential employers and learn about internship opportunities.
- Contact your college or university: Check with your college or university to see if they have a career center or internship program that can assist you in finding GIS internships.
- Leverage your network: Reach out to people in your professional network, including professors, colleagues, and alumni, to ask for potential leads or referrals.
GIS Internship Resources
Find information about interning both on a general level and within the field of GIS.
Flagship project created by Shoreh Elhami to team GIS professionals with volunteer opportunities worldwide.
Impressions of an Intern
Essay written by Anthony Calderon, a former GIS student at the California State University, Northridge. Anthony discusses what he considers important about internships in GIS.
This article was originally written on March 12, 2011 and has since been updated.
More GIS Career Resources:
- GIS Job Listing Sites – online sites that specifically post GIS jobs.
- Building a Career in GIS – overview on developing a geospatial career.
- GIS Career Resources – listing of additional resources.