Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Laurel Hanson - Wildlands School and Beaver Creek

Name: Laurel Hanson
Major & Minor: Comprehensive International Geography
UWEC Standing and Expected Graduation Date: Senior-Graduate 12/2013
Interests and Hobbies: Travelling, cooking, music, scrapbooking, four-wheeling, ice fishing, shopping

Internship Employer: Wildlands School & Beaver Creek
Length of Employment: September 2012-Present

Basics : Was your internship paid or unpaid? Did you register for credits? Why or Why not? Did you create the internship or was it advertised? Where did you hear about it?

This internship was paid and I will also receive 2 credits for Geography 498-Community Internship.  Beaver Creek applied for funding from the Internship Office at UW-Eau Claire.  Once the funding was approved, the Internship Office provided Beaver Creek with the funds that was then used for my intern position at Beaver Creek and Wildlands School.

This internship was created.  I am very interested in working with K-12 students in GIS, but wasn’t aware of any outlets to do so.  I spoke with Martin Goettl over the summer of 2012 about my interest and he was interested in working with K-12 students as well.
Martin was contacted by Paul Tweed, the lead teacher at Wildlands School a charter school located on the Beaver Creek Reserve.  Paul was looking for college students to help with a mapping project in conjunction with Beaver Creek Reserve.  Martin and I worked with Paul Tweed and Beaver Creek Reserve to create a platform for this collaboration.  An internship was then created for my position.

What were your specific job responsibilities?

For my position, I act as the “project manager” for the Wildlands student’s mapping project.  Because the students do not have an expansive knowledge of GIS, I am responsible for providing the students with basic knowledge of GIS and data collection techniques as well as map creation.

The first objective for my internship was to work with the students to develop a data collection plan.  Many features needed to be collected in order to create the maps such as trails, information posts and buildings.  We created an outline and prioritized every necessary feature.

The second objective was to help the students develop a geodatabase that would be timeless and easily managed by the students.  The geodatabase included numerous domains so students would be able to accurately retain feature information.
After the first two objective were completed, we were able to go out into the field (Beaver Creek Reserve) and collect the data.  ArcPad and Trimble Juneau GPS units were used for data collection.  UW-Eau Claire Geography students accompanied the Wildlands students in the collection process.  The data was imported to the pre-created geodatabase.

The final objective is the creation of physical maps for Beaver Creek Reserve.  Students use the collected data to create a campus map, trail map and property boundary map.  These maps will be used for Beaver Creek to apply for grants as well as distribution to the public.  With Martin’s help, I am able to provide the students with resources for ArcGIS products, Trimble Juneau GPS units as well as the basics of GIS and geodatabase functions.

What do you think gave you to edge to get the internship?

I think the “edge” that got me this internship was informing Martin Goettl of my interest in working with K-12 students.  It was difficult for me to find an outlet on my own, and when this opportunity arose, Martin and I were able to work together to create the collaboration.

Was it a valuable experience?

This has been one of the most valuable and rewarding experiences I have ever had.  Teaching is on the best ways to learn, and I have learned so much by preparing for the students.  It is rewarding to be able to provide resources that might not otherwise be available to students and to see them really enjoy working in GIS.  I have also been connected to a wide range of people that will help me in future job prospects.

How did the logistics work for you? Did you have to move?

I did not have to move for this internship.  Wildlands School uses project based curriculum which worked very well in the management of schedules.  The students’ schedules are very flexible, so I am able to go to the school once a week to work with the students.

What advice can you give to those who are looking for an internship?

If you are having a hard time finding an internship, start networking and you may be able to create an internship.  Sometimes you can even get paid for a created position.  Also, don’t focus too much attention on whether the internship is something you want to do.  It is important to get your foot in the door and you may have to do tedious work at first, but having experience will give you the edge in the future.

Clayton Nass - United State Geological Survey

Name: Clayton Nass
Major & Minor: International Geography
UWEC Standing and Expected Graduation Date: Graduated December 2012

Interests and Hobbies: Exploring the World, Politics, Engineering, Golf, and the Green Bay Packers

Internship Employer: United States Geological Survey Boise, ID
Length of Employment: Summer internship during the summer of 2012

Basics: Was your internship paid or unpaid? Did you register for credits? Why or Why not? Did you create the internship or was it advertised? Where did you hear about it? My internship at the USGS was paid, and funded through grant money. I was employed as a student contractor for the federal government. I did now register for credits; because I was unaware that was an option even for paid interns. The internship was advertised, although I was made well aware of this opening thanks to a current USGS employee.

What were your specific job responsibilities?
I worked on a number of projects during my time at the USGS that ranged from the most raw form of data entry imaginable, to feature classification using ENVI. The majority of my time was spent performing many tasks for the SageSTEP research project.

My first task on this project was to download aerial imagery of 14 control sites spread across the western half of the United States. Then using the Example based feature classification function in ENVI I identified individual polygons within the TIFF file as either: juniper trees, pine trees, aspen trees, small/large shrubs, water, bare ground, and grassland. Maps were then generated using this data in order to display changes that occur on a landscape because of wildfire. This was an arduous process but produced some valuable maps.

The second portion of this research involved a differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) analysis to determine the severity of each extensive treatment fire at each of the 14 sites. The steps in this process were:
1.   Download cloudless Landsat imagery for days pre and post fire, for each of the 14 sites
2.   Run dNBR tool in Arc
3.   Digitize fire perimeter using pre-existing shapefile and dNBR imagery
4.   Run tool to create standardized dNBR and classify using MTBS points.

End Product:

Figure 1. Classified dNBR: The lightest green and darkest red represent 2 separate but severe risk levels. Areas of more moderate color are at the normal severity factor.

What do you think gave you to edge to get the internship?
I was told that the GIS skills that I had acquired at UWEC were paramount in my hiring process. It also helps to have someone on the inside that can vouch for your services. 

Was it a valuable experience? It was absolutely a valuable experience. I learned a variety of new tools that I had never before even heard of (Circuit-Scape, XTools) and improved on many GIS skills that I had minimal experience with (Python Scripting, Feature Classification). Having an internship also provides some extremely valuable on the job experience, something that cannot be taught in a classroom or a lab. On my first day I was handed 3 pages of paper and was told: “Here’s what you will be doing, if you have questions ask. Just let me know when you’re done with each step.” That forces one to learn on the fly and under pressure. Not only did that benefit my GIS abilities, but also improved my problem solving and responsibility.
How did the logistics work for you? Did you have to move?
I did have to move to Boise, ID for the summer. Luckily I was able to stay with my family which made the transition extremely easy. The two 1800 mile drives got a little long but I had good company on each road trip which made it all good. I would actually recommend that any potential interns look for jobs in which they CAN relocate. The love of experiencing new places should be inherent in every geographers psyche.
What advice can you give to those who are looking for an internship?
Just go out there and give er. It may be difficult to find something at first but as soon as you land that job you will realize how absolutely well prepared you are for it, and there should be nothing to fear. The geography department at UWEC has prepared you well, get out and prove it to the world.

Jon Bowen - Charles Darwin Foundation

Name: Jon Bowen

Major & Minor: Geography
UWEC Standing and Expected Graduation Date: Graduated December 2012
Interests and Hobbies: Guiding Whitewater, whitewater kayaking, climbing, making maps, scuba, hiking, traveling, mt biking, and anything fun that keeps me moving

Internship Employer: Charles Darwin Foundation
Length of Employment: 3 months in the Summer of 2012
Basics : Was your internship paid or unpaid? Did you register for credits? Why or Why not? Did you create the internship or was it advertised? Where did you hear about it? It was unpaid but I was there through a fellowship program that Biology arranged. I did not register for classes because I didn't know I could and I had plenty to graduate the following semester. It came to be through many of my other research experiences and passion for adventure travel. I heard about it through my advisor and she heard about it through the Biology department.

What were your specific job responsibilities?
I was in charge of geographic support for the Research Station. I had a variety of tasks while I was there. It started out slow, sifting and organizing the hundreds of geospatial data they have accumulated. After that was done we started to take on a cartographic edge by creating locator maps for the supporting scientists who work down there. We then started to take on a field aspect to the position by accompanying the marine biologists in order to find a GPS tracking device that fell off of a large fish they were tracking. We then took on a support role for all of the geographic knowledge they store in their database. This was interesting because we started to use many different open source GIS solutions to store, access, and manipulate their data. From there and with difficultly in the connection of these systems we trained the in house scientists how to access and manipulate geospatial information. This included a standardization on storing their information so others could accurately know what they were dealing with.

What do you think gave you to edge to get the internship?
I had done previous biodiversity research with Christina Hupy in Honduras which incorporated allowed for a great base layer of international work and the strategies to help in conservation. I also worked at the Environmental Adventure Center which created an adventurous edge to my academic pursuits.

Was it a valuable experience?
Every experience is valuable. It was a great opportunity to become exposed to an international level of conservation. Having worked in a country and even more so an island you start to appreciate the little things that you don't realize in a University setting. Living in an environment where people vacation opens your eyes while adjusting your idea of normal to a whole new level. It's also an experience that was so rich with new information and ideas that upon return it's hard for others to gain perspective if they weren't there with you. It helped me grow not only academically and as a geographer but allowed for me to take on new aspects of my own character and push myself to where I am now.
How did the logistics work for you? Did you have to move?
Logistics were handled by the Biology professor who accompanied us for a short period of time when we were there. I ended up moving to Puerto Ayora, a small town on the island of Santa Cruz for the summer months. It was one of those things where you can't pass it up and then things happen so quick your all of a sudden sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean saying to yourself "Wow, I'm here. This is real."
 What advice can you give to those who are looking for an internship?
First, college is an expensive way to help foster your passion. Passion helps you learn your character. If you have a half ass attitude towards what you like in life your going to get a job that shows that. If you want something, work towards steps that will get you there. Once you know yourself it's easy to start going in a certain direction because one thing leads to the next. Do something that pushes your passion and don't just do it, do it with heart and the stoke for the sole fact you like doing it regardless of the money. That fact right there will get you further than anything. Put your heart into something and it will reward you. Let your happiness to be doing something be part of your paycheck. However, nothing will start to happen unless you don't get up and do it. Break out of your comfort zone. I'm looking at a quote on my desk right now that says "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Yes it may suck that what your currently doing isn't fun or cool but as long as it relates to your goal it is teaching you things that you need to acquire before you find your zen job. So my advice to those looking for an internship is that you shouldn't be looking for an internship if your mom wants you to or your professor is posting them. You should be looking for something that drives you, rattles your bones, and allows you to go 100% at it because your passionate about it. Get up, set goals, and get up each day with the intent on pursing those goals. Life is great so learn, fail, adventure, seek, explore, and do what ya love because your only here once. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meghan Kelly - GeoDecisions

Name: Meghan Kelly
Major & Minor: Geography – International Studies Emphasis
UWEC Standing and Expected Graduation Date: Graduated December 2012
Interests and Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends, staying active outdoors, soccer, knitting

Internship Employer: GeoDecisions, a GIS consulting firm in Madison, WI
Length of Employment: Summer internship 2012 but I am still technically an employee if projects come up

Basics : Was your internship paid or unpaid? Did you register for credits? Why or Why not? Did you create the internship or was it advertised? Where did you hear about it?
My internship at GeoDecisions was paid.  I did not register for credits as I did not need the associated credits to graduate.  I heard about the internship through an email from Dr. Christina Hupy sent out from a Wisconsin State Cartographer’s Office posting. 

What were your specific job responsibilities?
My specific job responsibilities surrounded the conversion of water and waste water utilities from an AutoCAD nonfunctional format to a GIS format.  This conversion process is not completely fool proof and creates random glitches in the data.  My job was to go over the data and make adjustments as needed.  Eventually, I worked on the Quality Control team to double check the team’s work using the Network Analysis feature in ArcMap and running supplementary tests.  I was also given the opportunity to make an onsite visit to Champaign, Illinois where we worked with the onsite water utility personnel to update any features that were not in AutoCAD.  This was on the spot maintenance and problem solving.

I worked on side projects throughout the summer including Broadband/internet/cable user-ship in Delaware.  I made maps for a third party company to test the expansion of coverage for accuracy by creating coverage comparison maps.  The third party company would then go to the designated areas based on my road maps to test the coverage and speed of access. I worked on updating fishing hot spot data in the US for a GeoDecisions offshoot called Fishidy.com.  This is essentially a Facebook for fisherman to share and record personal fishing spots with access to detailed bathemetric maps.   

What do you think gave you to edge to get the internship?
First and foremost, I think my background and training in GIS proved that I was completely qualified for the job.  Because of my background, I think I was also confident in using my skills.  I think demonstrated an eagerness for the position.  I also fit into the mindset of the organization

Was it a valuable experience?
Yes this was a valuable experience.  Not only did I utilize my skills and add to my skills, I was exposed the world of GIS outside of academia.  I came to the conclusion that I was capable for that type of job or project management but decided that it wasn’t something I would want to do for the rest of my life.  I’m glad I tried it out.  The people I worked with are great people so I also made positive connections.

How did the logistics work for you? Did you have to move?
I moved to Madison for the summer.  Fortunately, my sister lived less than a mile away from the GeoDecisions office so housing was not an issue.  I would have probably still taken the job had she not been there.  Finding a sublease in Madison for the summer wouldn’t have been difficult.

What advice can you give to those who are looking for an internship?
My advice would be to stay active in the search and keep applying.  I applied to GeoDecisions on a whim because I was in the midst of sending out three other applications when I received the email from Christina.  Also, show interest and take initiative.  Finding an internship may lead to a job so take it seriously.  GIS is a small world so if your company/organization can’t hire you, they might know people who can.  Keep in touch after your internship is over!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tyler DeBruin - Brown County and Town of Greenville

Name: Tyler DeBruin
Major & Minor: Geography and Biology (double major)
UWEC Standing and Expected Graduation Date: Senior, Fall 2012
Interests and Hobbies: Hunting, Spear Fishing, Four Wheeling, Camping

Internship Employer: Brown County Planning and Zoning & Town of Greenville
Length of Employment: Both ~4 months (600 hours each)

Basics : Was your internship paid or unpaid? Did you register for credits? Why or Why not? Did you create the internship or was it advertised? Where did you hear about it?
Both internships were paid internships ($11 per hour). I did not register for credit since I only needed to take Geography 401 the following semester to graduate. Both of my internships were advertised on the Wisconsin Cartographers website.

What were your specific job responsibilities?
At Brown County I created the Brown County and City of Green Bay metro maps (created in paper folded maps). I also updated the online GIS interactive map using legal descriptions for annexations and using aerials to update attributes like railroads, roads, building footprints, etc. I also did dynamic problem shooting when fixing/updating the emergency services map application the police dispatch use. I also worked with zoning of FEMA flood zones and mapping LOMA/LOMR’s. I also did some work with zoning for the Department of Agriculture to zone land in Brown County as farmland preservation zones. Along with this I also did various other jobs that came up.

At Greenville I did a lot of infrastructure work. I mapped out and did connections for sanitary, storm water, and water pipelines/manholes. I also did work with utility, storm water, and building setbacks for the township. A little less than half the time was using a Trimble XH to map out sanitary, storm water, and water utilities when they were missing from the database or if there was new construction. I also made maps for town meetings using Adobe applications.

What do you think gave you to edge to get the internship?
What gave me an edge in getting the internships were the classes that I have taken along with my grades in those classes. The most important factor by far though was my independent study/research I have done. Total I have done 4 independent paid research projects all of which were paid through grants from UWEC (some solo some with other students). Of which I personally wrote 2 of the grant proposals and helped write the others which they like to see as well. This helps to show employers that you are a self-motivated student and also gives you the experience that you need to get the internship. I also went and presented at a conference for one of the projects. I didn't do this personally but you can also get credit for the research you do.

So if there is a single thing I can urge everyone to do is do at least one independent research project with a faculty member at UWEC. Write the grant proposal too if you are able. This gives you a good faculty reference for jobs, gives you experience, can give you course credit, can lead to a conference presentation, and will also give you money to do all of this. There really isn't a downside to it what so ever.

Was it a valuable experience?
I would say it was extremely valuable. I am confident that now when I go into a permanent job I will be prepared and have the experience to excel in the position I obtain.

How did the logistics work for you? Did you have to move?
I actually was able to move back home since both jobs were very close to my hometown. So it worked out very well that I didn’t need to pay for rent during the internships since most do not pay as well as a full time position.

What advice can you give to those who are looking for an internship?
Challenge yourself. The more experience you get through research projects or advance classes can only help you in the long run. Challenge yourself to apply to at least 5 places a week or give yourself some number to meet. Remember that just because a position isn't listed doesn't mean it isn't available. If there aren't any internships listed do some cold calls, because you never know what you might run into. If you can’t find an internship try to find something that you can do for free for a nonprofit or even try to create a research project that you can do on your own. Anything that can give you that first experience is what will start opening doors for you in the present and future.

Tonya Olson - Internship at Pepin County, WI

Name: Tonya Olson        
Major & Minor: Environmental Geography
UWEC Standing and Expected Graduation Date: Senior, Spring 2013

Interests and Hobbies:
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I also enjoy spending time outside playing sports, hiking, camping, and fishing.

Internship Employer: Pepin County (Land Management/Zoning and Land Conservation)
Length of Employment: 3 months (the Tuesday following Memorial Day to the Friday before Labor Day)

Basics : Was your internship paid or unpaid? Did you register for credits? Why or Why not? Did you create the internship or was it advertised? Where did you hear about it?
This was a paid internship (hourly). I did not register for credits because an internship in not required for graduation. I learned about this internship from an email I received from Professor Christina Hupy.

What were your specific job responsibilities?
With this internship came a lot of fun and challenging tasks. The main task for the intern with the Land Management/Zoning office is to do maintenance checks on section corners, in reference to PLSS (Public Land Survey System). This involves printing off tie-sheets from the WI State Cartographers Office with their legal description of the monuments locations and aerial photos in reference to its location. You also get to use a magnetic locator, (more commonly known as a metal detector) as many of the section corner monuments are underground. It’s a lot of fun!  It is also the intern’s responsibility to check the visibility and clearance of GPS corners. This usually involves some weed-whacking.
Working the Land Conservation Department was a lot of fun too. Most days we worked outside. Tasks usually involved working with landowners to help with erosion control on their land, mostly farmers and their fields. We also did a lot of inspection checks of structures that were in the process of being built and ones whose maintenance agreements were soon to be expired. These structures were things like dams, diversions, waterways, and critical area treatments, etc. We did a lot of checks on DNR land and CRP land to check which native and non-native plant species were growing. With them I also had the opportunity to learn how to survey. We also did stream monitoring once a month.
For both departments GIS was a main tool while working in the office. A lot of the projects involved updating maps from the previous year with new information or creating maps for them in GIS that were otherwise just handed out as PDFs at meetings. I had the opportunity to make a map that was used in a court case. That project was a lot of fun, challenging, and a great learning experience.

What do you think gave you to edge to get the internship?
GIS skills were by far the most important skill to bring into that internship.

Was it a valuable experience?
I thought this was an extremely valuable experience!  I learned a lot about land conservation that I would've normally not learned in the classroom. I also learned how to survey which is something I don’t think I would've learned. On top of that I feel that I really honed in on my GIS skills.

How did the logistics work for you? Did you have to move?
Everything worked out great for me. However I live in Mondovi and am used to commuting to school in Eau Claire 5 days a week so going to Durand wasn't a problem at all. I know interns in the past have had to move to Durand for the summer though.

What advice can you give to those who are looking for an internship?
My best advice would be talk to people. I went into Christina’s office the first day of school and told her I was really hoping to get an internship over the summer that was paid and that I wouldn't have to move for and about a month later she sent me email for the position. Talk to your professors, talk to Martin, talk to classmates, and talk to people outside of school who know you well and would be willing to spread the word for you.
Also, do your own research. There are a lot of opportunities out there and if you’re willing to move for the summer you shouldn't have a problem finding something.

Sam Kruger - Internship at City of Janesville

Name: Samuel Krueger
Major & Minor: Environmental Geography
UWEC Standing and Expected Graduation Date: Senior: December 2012
Interests and Hobbies: Unnecessarily competitive yard game tournaments, UWEC intramurals, the Packers, ice fishing, cartography, being active with friends.

Internship Employer: City of Janesville, WI – Community Development Department
Length of Employment: Summer 2012

Basics : Was your internship paid or unpaid? Did you register for credits? Why or Why not? Did you create the internship or was it advertised? Where did you hear about it? The GIS Analyst summer internship in Janesville was a paid internship. I did not register for any credits; however, I did not consider the opportunity, something I would advise future students to definitely take advantage of. The position was advertised through Professor Hupy’s internship email list. I am originally from Oregon WI; 25 minutes north of Janesville so applying for this summer internship was a no brainer for me.

What were your specific job responsibilities?
I was hired at an interesting time in the community development department at City Hall. Surprisingly, the GIS department was extremely small, comprised of just a GIS Coordinator and one GIS Analyst. The former GIS Analyst took another job which allowed me to step in as the temporary number two GIS person. This transition proved to be extremely beneficial as I was able to get my hands on a variety of GIS related projects.

I spent the majority of my time analyzing areas within the Janesville Municipality that were in the greatest need for sidewalk construction. A large portion of the city as well as many surrounding neighborhoods were not equipped with sidewalks, most did not even have plans for future sidewalk construction. A community sidewalk committee had been formed by city council after the 7 year project to build 63 miles of sidewalk had come to a halt. The program was disbanded and restructured due to large community skepticism on proposed construction areas. While some residents saw the benefits of have having a more connected city, opponents to the plan did not want to pay for or maintain the new sidewalks.

One aspect of this project consisted of analyzing seven site suitability variables which were determined by the 12 person community sidewalk committee and also approved by city council members. These variables were heavily debated among council and committee members however a consensus was finally reached. The sidewalk variables were defined as follows; proximity to schools (1/4 & 1/2 mile buffer), proximity to transit bus stops (1/4 & 1/2 mile buffer), proximity to public facilities such as churches, parks, clinics and retail centers (1/4 & 1/2 mile buffer), street class (major arterial, minor arterial, collector), existing sidewalk gaps, housing density (>4 units & <2 units), and pedestrian/automotive accidents. The GIS analysis was performed on each individual sidewalk segment for each city parcel. An index ranking was then applied to sidewalk parcel segments depending on their spatial location to each of the seven variables described above.

The community sidewalk committee was in charge of developing the ranking system. Higher scores were given to sidewalk areas closer to schools, public facilities and transit stops, higher accident risk areas, locations with existing sidewalk gaps, areas adjacent to high density housing and streets classified as high use. For example, sidewalk segments within a 1/4 mile of a school were given a ranking of 20 while areas within a 1/2 mile were given a ranking of 15. Based on the seven criteria, the highest possible ranking was 100. Sidewalk construction is being analyzed by zone with there being 9 different city zones; zones 1 and 2 are referenced in the three buffer analysis maps below. These visual tools directly assisted in the sidewalk committee's analysis and subsequent recommendation on sidewalk construction priority around the city.

After the total rank (out of 100) was calculated for each individual property segment based on the seven criteria, the data was then classified using a natural breaks classification method for five class intervals. The natural breaks method or (Jenks) classification, groups features with similar values while trying to maximize the differences between the means of the five different classes. The final sidewalk committee analysis map is shown below. The committee is now tasked with the difficult decisions of choosing which areas to start construction, what side of the street (if not both) should be constructed, how the project should be financed and what sort of construction time line should be established. In early July, the Janesville City Council ultimately voted to install more than two miles of sidewalk.

By the time we were finished with this project, I was able to get a firm grasp on how policy, procedures and public opinions heavily influenced the course of action within City Hall. This analysis project is just one example of how GIS can be leveraged to address important local community development decisions.

My secondary responsibilities involved updating spatial and attribute inconsistencies within the city’s water and sewer utility network data sets. Performing quality assurance on the GIS utility network layers required the interpretation and comparison of 80 scales to the 2011 aerial photo of Janesville Wisconsin. Asbuilt field inspection books were also referenced as needed. The process of utility QC consisted of panning up and down streets checking both sewer and water utility layers for spatial accuracy as well as populating/updating inaccurate or missing feature attributes. Inaccuracies would then be documented or fixed on the fly. Google Earth street view provided a platform for double checking spatial discrepancies. If a manhole or hydrant was spatially off, I would manually fix the location in the GIS and the accompanying attributes as well. Fixing these discrepancies contributes towards building a more accurate utility network. The goal of this work was to eventually build a complete geometric network within the city of Janesville.

What do you think gave you to edge to get the internship?
Throughout my academic career in Eau Claire, I had created numerous posters powered by ArcMap, GPS and Adobe Illustrator. Before I applied to the Janesville internship, I assembled a collection of my best undergraduate work to be displayed in an online portfolio using Google Blogger, a rather simple but extremely effective blog site. My online portfolio was an incredible resource that allowed me to show the kind of graduate level projects myself and other UWEC geography students are creating.

Throughout the summer, I got to know the city of Janesville GIS coordinator on a more personal level, on my last day he told me straight up why I got the job. Obviously, a solid departmental GPA never hurts; but it was the collection and variety of maps and posters in my online portfolio that really set me apart from other applicants. The student cartography skill set in the UWEC geography department is incredible! Talking about your projects does not do it justice, get those maps/posters online and make sure you can talk about every aspect of them! As for my GIS proficiency, I felt very prepared for the GIS based work this internship required. The professors in the department do an incredible job of preparing you for the working world.
Was it a valuable experience?

Hands down the most valuable job experience I have ever had. Not only did this type of work relate 100% to my major, but it was the most rewarding job I have had yet. The work I was doing was actually being used to facilitate important/controversial city decision within the Janesville community. This internship has also given me insight into how GIS can be leveraged to help solve real life problems, outside of the classroom setting. Using GIS outside of the “cushion” of the Geography department was great for building my confidence as a geographer. If a problem occurred, I was expected to troubleshoot and use help files to find my way out of it. From this internship, I took away a greater understanding of GIS tools, functions and applications.

How did the logistics work for you? Did you have to move?
Luckily, I was able to live at home for the summer and commute to Janesville every day. This was actually a huge factor in my decision making for taking the internship. I was able to gain incredible GIS experience all while living at home and saving cash.

What advice can you give to those who are looking for an internship?

1.)  Start building good relationships with your professors; they could be dynamite references if you first show them you are a hard worker.
2.)  I highly recommend Student-Faculty Research. Based on my interview, employers love to hear about projects besides regular classroom work that you’re going above and beyond for.
3.)    Create an online resume/portfolio where you can showcase your best work. You’re maps will speak for themselves (although you will still need to explain them!) This could be what sets you apart from all the generic resumes, it sure did for me.
4.)    Beginning level GIS internships are not all glamorous, like any job you have to work your way up, be prepared to enter data and watch loading screens. However, getting that first GIS related job under your belt is imperative before you can move on to bigger and better things. You will be surprised how small the GIS world is once you’re in it. GIS professionals know each other, start making good working relationship and they will pay dividends in the future, and NETWORK! Sometimes it’s not all about what you know but who you know!!