Blog written by Ella Mroczek, Graduate GIS Consultant at Interpret
You’ve hired a geospatial graduate, now what?
As an emerging geospatial professional, the buzz talk in my world currently surrounds the in's and out's of beginning a career in the geospatial industry. There is alot of emphasis on getting "a foot in the door", but what about senior leaders within an organisation who are responsible for developing emerging caterpillars into fully fledged GIS professionals?
From the perspective of an emerging professional, graduate and former intern, here are five things that made a real difference to me when starting out:
We have all heard the term "fake it till you make it" and the older I get, the more I realise the wisdom of this statement. As a graduate in a new job, the ratio of ‘faking it’ to ‘actually knowing what’s going on’ is entirely tipped one way (guess which). So, as a manager, encourage your graduate or intern to help themselves. Every organisation will have help guides and info documents, point them in the right direction or to useful websites. Your graduate will already know the adage ‘no question is a stupid question’ but they have also been at uni for a few years, so they know how to find out things on their own.
Every manager I have had, without fail, will apologise several times before, during and after giving me a boring or repetitive task. However, don’t be afraid to hand out the boring jobs! Everyone in this industry has been there, it will give your graduate something to commiserate over with the rest of the team at the water cooler. Also, it should be noted that digitising and other potentially boring work, is vital to GIS. Learning best practice and the realities of these processes will make your graduate a better GIS professional in the future.
Your graduate will likely be in a state of awe because they have suddenly found themselves with a ‘real’ job. I say, make the most of it! Share with them any work you are doing or completed projects that are especially awesome, work through the methodology and show them some maps to go along with it, don’t be surprised if they print some off to take home to study… (or was that just me?!)
Perhaps even more pertinent than my previous point, is to recognise what your graduate or intern has to offer. In many cases, those new to the GIS industry aren’t fresh off the block and have a broad range of knowledge from which they can contribute. However, if your graduate is new to the working world, look for opportunities to introduce them to the business side of the industry, as well as the technical side.
And finally, talk the real deal. The industry is fast moving and often overwhelming. To someone just starting out, becoming an established professional is probably an intimidating prospect. Try to be open about your experiences, trials, and success stories. As soon as your graduate finds out you are also human, they will probably feel alot more confident.
During my time at Interpret, I have been fortunate to work with team leaders and managers that have gone above and beyond their role as a ‘boss’...I see them as my mentors and I appreciate all the advice and help they have given me so far.
Finally, I want to applaud all the great leaders in this profession that make a huge difference to the newcomers – most of you probably don’t even realise you are doing it!
If you have any thoughts on this subject I would be interested to hear them! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org