Internships: Putting theory into practice

17 October 2017

Tale of Two Cities

As part of the Masters in Geographic Information Science (MGIS) program, Interpret have been involved by offering 100-hour internships, which provides excellent industry experience for students. The MGIS program is jointly taught across three campuses - Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, Victoria University in Wellington, and the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. During the internships, students have had the opportunity to put theory into practice in a wide variety of projects. Joshua Bilkey is studying at AUT and has been working in our Auckland office, while Malcolm Gollan is studying at the University of Canterbury and has been based in our Christchurch office.

Collaboration between the two offices is a key focus at Interpret. Both interns have been able to meet the other cities’ staff members through web communications and in person, as the Interpret team frequently travel between offices. Interns have worked on a wide variety of projects during their time at Interpret, here's what they have to say about their time at Interpret:

Intern life at the Interpret Auckland office - Josh Bilkey

Josh 20170828 142104 002

During my time at Interpret I was able to work on a number of projects with datasets ranging from transportation models to environmental monitoring datasets. I was therefore able to learn from and collaborate with both the Abley Transportation engineers (Interpret’s sister brand) and Interpret GIS staff from both Auckland and Christchurch. An example of how this interaction has helped me was when I was attempting to complete a task involving JavaScript programming. I contacted one of the developers in Canterbury (Godfrey Huang) and he was able to fix the issues I was having. It has been great to experience working in an environment where not only does every employee have diverse skill-sets but they also are more than happy to help give and advise or assistance.

On my first interview with Chris Morris and Natalie Scott, one of things they said was “You’re here to learn, not to make coffee.” This point of view has been reinforced throughout my time at Interpret. I have had the opportunity to participate in FME software training, explored the entire Esri software suite, created multiple web maps and applications as well as work on programming-related tasks. This varied day-to-day and has greatly improved my knowledge of the industry.  I look forward to applying these new skills in my future geospatial career.

 

My internship in the Interpret Christchurch office - Malcolm’s Gollan

Malcolm internI come from a different perspective to Josh, having worked as a geologist for approximately 9 years, where I used GIS and mining CAD almost on a daily basis. Having made a decision to return to New Zealand from Australia, I decided to change career paths and focus on GIS. Working in a consultancy specialising in GIS has been quite a different perspective, with most work being heavily focused on web-based solutions, where previously I worked almost solely with desktop GIS for cartography.

My main task has been to compile census data into an online map using ArcGIS Online (AGOL) for a client. This has allowed me to really build upon the ArcGIS skills I have gained in the course. Specifically, of great benefit has been the process of building a web map in AGOL and gaining some experience with Web App Builder for Developers. Gaining an insight into web based solutions has been invaluable as is understanding how to extend AGOL. I have also been building some familiarity with ArcGIS Pro which is great since is seems inevitable that it will replace ArcMap. My brief experience here has highlighted the importance of developing coding skills, particularly in Python and JavaScript while also learning how to format web content with HTML and CSS. Additionally, it has highlighted that knowing how content is served over the web is a gap in my knowledge that I need to fill.

In my opinion, advantages of my experience with Interpret is exposure to a more varied range of jobs and solutions that you may not be exposed to in other workplaces. The larger team mean there is a wide range of experience to draw upon. Although I did not have a chance to experience the wide variety of technology demos personally, it shows how the sharing of experience and skills within the organisation is important and I would recommend making it to these if you have a chance to work here. I’d like to thank the Interpret team for the opportunity to gain some experience there and in particular to Stacy Rendall for mentoring and sharing his experience with me.

Whilst the two of us interns may not see each other in person during a work day, Interpret has made a big effort to ensure both offices work collaboratively. The internship program has been an invaluable learning tool and we look forward to applying the knowledge we have acquired in future roles within the GIS community. We would encourage anyone thinking of starting a career within the geospatial industry to consider applying for an intern role. For students looking into starting the MGIS in the upcoming years, we can both attest Interpret has provided a workplace which not only accommodates students but aims to increase their skills and knowledge of the industry.