My first year as a GIS professional

27 November 2017

Steve F blog grad

Blog written by Steve Ford, GIS Consultant, Interpret Geospatial Solutions

How time flies when you’re having fun!

It was little over a year ago when I hung up my boots on my time at university and embarked on the big wide world of working life (full of responsibilities and getting up before 10am – every weekday).

I started my working life with a Callaghan Innovation funded internship at Interpret, working on an R&D project around predicting lightning strikes in New Zealand. It was a pretty awesome and crazy way to start. Before I knew it, I had been thrust into a world of researching meteorology phenomena, talking to experts, running analysis, developing complex models, working with live data and developing web applications, all on top of learning the nuts and bolts of how a GIS company works.

After the internship, I was employed by Interpret on a full time basis as a graduate consultant, working mainly on projects in the transportation and road safety space. The level of learning and upskilling only increased from my internship days. Now I got to work on real world projects, learning concepts and applying them to processes that influence local, regional and national decision making. It’s a pretty cool experience seeing the projects you’ve worked on popping up on Stuff.co.nz and other news sites! More recently I have been mostly working on GIS development projects, including creating custom Web AppBuilder widgets for clients. I studied computer science at university, so it’s an area of great interest to me.

One thing that blew me away about my job and the team at Interpret is the vast technical capabilities that we have between us and the different tasks that we undertake. We also have a great social presence both inside and outside of work. Table tennis games throughout the day prove a handy breather from the technical work and weekly baking days, monthly lunches and events outside of work time make it easy to get to know your work mates better.

To finish off, I thought I would share a couple of tips for fellow grads that I’ve picked up in my first year:

  • Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and work with your colleagues – this is an easy way to share your skills and the areas you are interested in, and helps to build an understanding of what others can help you with. Building your knowledge and skills comes from experience, so it's important to learn from your peers to improve your future work.
  • Make the most of industry events and socialising with other GIS professionals. We work in a small, tight-knit community with an absolute abundance of talent and passion. This passion is highly contagious and will rub off on you when you working on projects and learning new skills. The technical experience at these events will often inspire and inform you of GIS areas and techniques that you might not have even heard of before.

I couldn’t write about the fantastic journey that has been my first year of work without thanking everyone at Interpret and others in the wider industry who put so much effort into supporting, mentoring and enabling graduates like myself to succeed. It’s an understatement to say that the work you do, makes starting out in this industry an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

If you are a graduate hunting for a GIS role, I would strongly suggest you check out the following blog posts by Chris Morris (Interpret Group Manager):

Tips for a successful interview

Tips for creating a quality graduate CV