Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tom Koehler - Applied Data Consultants Eau Claire, WI

Name:  Tom Koehler
Family:  Nope
Major & Minor:  Comprehensive Geography - International Studies
Year Graduated:  2010
Current Employer:  Applied Data Consultants
Length of Employment:  Just over a year now
Interests and Hobbies:  Traveling, reading, movies, and camping
What helped you decide what route to take after graduation (i.e. graduate school or type of job)?  I wanted to get a job in GIS right away in order to see what a career in GIS had to offer me. I guess I figured that I could always do grad school at a later date.

What do you think gave you to edge to get your current position?  I started at my company as a limited term employee. Basically they had a particular project they needed help with, and I was told there might be work available after that. I was up against some tough competition for the job, but I think I came out on top because of the research I worked on as an undergrad. From there I worked as hard as I could each day and was offered a more permanent position as a GIS Technician. I've jumped at every opportunity to lead projects and come up with unique solutions to problems, which has helped me get to my current position where I am currently in the transitioning over to a GIS Consultant position.

Describe your typical day at work:  It depends quite a bit on what sort of project we are working on. Usually the bulk of my day is taken up with working on a particular aspect of a project (data processing and development), along with some impromptu brainstorming sessions for our projects ("what is the best way to do this?" type of questions). From time to time there are meetings thrown in to plan out future projects, as well as training other employees or being trained on new things.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  I'm not sure right now, actually. I'm sure I'll still be doing GIS, but where that puts me depends on a lot of factors.  I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up at graduate school either.

What advice can you give to those who are still in school?  Look into summer internships for GIS companies. It can be a pretty valuable experience to get a sneak peek at what lies ahead. Also, don't be afraid to challenge yourself. Take the more difficult classes if you think you will learn a lot from them, when you are looking for a job or just starting a new one you will be a step ahead and hopefully stand out. 
Feel free to contact me at tkoehler@adc4gis.com

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