Owner/Consultant, Geospatial Bull
Always Advance Yourself
“I just graduated, now what?” This was the looping question that ran circles around my mind once I earned my degree nine years ago. This is not to say that I was a nervous 22 year old. On the contrary, I was quite an overly confident recent graduate. With my experience as President of the Geography Club, earning top grades in my classes, and holding two internships; I truly thought anything less than an offer as a Senior Associate at a major engineering/environmental firm would have been a joke to me (alright maybe I was cocky…). Similar to other recent graduates in my class, I received a punch in the gut from reality once I landed my first job.
“GIS tech I” that was the title given to me with my first job. I thought the duties and responsibilities would be a breeze. For the most part when it came to the technical work within ESRI products, I completed the work quite well. However, DO NOT underestimate the commonly undervalued “soft skills” as this is where I was undoubtedly failing in my job. Working with a team, intentional communication, and taking the initiative are essentials of most jobs that took me nearly three years to grasp (yet you must work on it every day!). With my technical skills advancing and soft skills dynamically developing, my career truly “took flight”.
I landed a job at the Nashville International Airport as a GIS Coordinator. Although there were many aspects to my role, I primarily dove into developing apps. Using Arcgis Enterprise and Arcgis Online I created roughly 15 different applications that augmented airport employee workflows. These applications saved the airport $1.1 million in one year. The highlight of my experience there came from creating the Airport Command Center’s Common Operational Picture (COP). This is a single landing spot dashboard that shows all the critical operations of the airport at a given time (picture shown). This achievement helped position me for what would become my next job (& industry switch) as a GIS Manager at The Port of Virginia. In this role, I maintain asset management data and supply the workforce with mobile applications for daily inspections of maritime port operations.
To recent graduates I specifically want to end with these statements. Find a current passion. Don’t be worried that whatever you choose now is what you are stuck with forever. THAT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. I am a testament that you can apply your skills (technical + soft) to any industry. Understand and listen in on what your organization needs and apply your geographical knowledge directly. Lastly, always be willing to learn.