UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Geography is a field that uses an interdisciplinary approach to understand patterns of human activity and natural processes on the surface of the earth. Geographers are often called upon to analyze and solve problems that deal with interactions between people and the environment. Geography appeals to students who have a wide range of interests that involve human activities and their impacts on the natural environment.
Geographic Information Science is a set of techniques that include Cartography (the art and science of map making), GIS - Geographic Information Systems (the analysis of spatial patterns), and Remote Sensing (the analysis of satellite imagery). These techniques are useful in displaying, understanding, and analyzing spatial relationships. Many other disciplines, such as biology, business, marketing, criminal justice, land use planning, and urban studies utilize mapping techniques.
Environmental Conservation Major with GIS/ Biology Minor
Current Position: GIS Consultant at ERM
How did you get there?: After graduating from UWRF I was hired as a field biologist for a small environmental consulting company in St. Paul. After working for the company for the summer I realized that I had more GIS experience than anyone else in the company. I discussed how the company was using GIS and how we could better employ the technology. After discussions with my employer I became the GIS guy. I spent 5 years at that company (4 years as the GIS manager....with only a minor). I received my Masters in GIS while working and then took a position at my current employer, ERM, which is a large company with lots of GIS resources and staff.
Advice for graduating Geography/GIS students: Start to learn a little bit of Python and SQL...a little can go a long way. I had no experience with computer science or programming while working on my undergrad. After taking an online course in Python I realized how much more GIS had to offer in automating tasks and batch processing using a little bit of Python. In addition, build a portfolio, even if it is small. It will show future employers your drive and motivation for creating maps as well as your ability to use the software to convey a message.