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.

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