GIS Career Path

GIS Career Path

While attending primary school, geography meant that students learned basic geography, which included US states and capitals, continents, and other fun facts. The class lasted for a year. I never really thought about geography again and how it would eventually play a larger role in my day-to-day life and decisions I would make as an adult.

As most people do, I declared a major in my freshman year of college. I took the required classes for my major but also needed to complete general education courses as well. I never really had that “wow” moment where I was so excited to pursue a career and interested in working in this field for the rest of my life.

During my sophomore year I met a new friend that was a year ahead of me. He was a geography major. We discussed our majors and I told him how I didn’t feel the major I had chosen was a good fit. He suggested I take a few geography courses that would count towards my general education credits. I thought what did I have to lose. It’s a win-win for me. I could take courses I need for graduation and try something new.

I signed up for a few courses and was hooked. Ancient Mesopotamia Art and Architecture was by far one of the most interesting classes I took my junior year. Learning about an ancient society, their geography, and day-to-day lives was exciting. I decided to switch majors after a few courses and learning more about the geography program my university offered.

At this point GIS was not a new concept in the geography world but was a new concept to me. I enrolled in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences majoring in Geography with a GIS focus. I decided I should go the BS route which meant that statistics and programming was a requirement for graduation.

One of the best decisions I made after switching majors was to find an internship. I cannot stress the importance of finding an internship as soon as possible. Do not wait until your senior year to start looking and definitely don’t be picky! The start of my internship was in the middle of winter in central Pennsylvania capturing 911 address points. This meant walking in the snow and holding a metal pole to capture GPS locations. After the first project was completed, I was pulled in to work on other projects and was even allowed to miss required classes in order to travel onsite to visit clients. As graduation approached, I was offered a full-time job with the company I interned for and began my career as a GIS professional.

So what is the point of this blog? Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t wait for things to happen for you!

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions!

Amanda (Mandy) O'Shea

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