Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kyle Wells - : Colorado State University (CSU) – Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands at Fort McCoy, WI

Name: Kyle Wells
Family: My dog Mani
Major & Minor: Geography (Liberal Arts) & History (Liberal Arts)
Year Graduated: Fall 2011
Current Employer: Colorado State University (CSU) – Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands at Fort McCoy, WI
Length of Employment: 9 months
Interests and Hobbies: Traveling, Camping, Fishing, Sports

What helped you decide what route to take after graduation and/or in your career path (i.e. graduate school or type of job)?
I knew that I enjoyed Geographic Information Systems in school, so started applying for GIS/Cartography related jobs. Fortunately during my final semester, Garmin International representatives visited the UWEC Geography Department to mingle with students and see what projects students have been working on. During their visit, I presented them with a well put together resume and discussed what projects I had been working on. This led to an interview, and my first job out of school as a Cartography Technician with Garmin.
I was not sure if a career in the Cartography industry was what I ultimately wanted, but it was a start, and would hopefully help me decide. Over two years had passed working at Garmin, and I realized I wanted to use GIS with environmental projects, and perform analysis. I found that with Colorado State University as a GIS Technician.

What do you think gave you to edge to get your current position?
Certainly 2.5 years as a Cartography Technician at well respected company helped; however because my work with Garmin was so specific to Garmin, it was hard to translate all of those skills to my current position. This is where a strong GIS background from the university helped greatly. My understanding of geodatabases, collecting data with GPS equipment, analyzing datasets, and creating maps gave me the edge that CSU was looking for. Participating in additional research projects, like a field seminar course to Honduras, appealed to CSU as well.

Describe your typical day at work:
On a typical day I am entering data in geodatabases, digitizing features, collecting and uploading GPS files, maintaining and updating map collections, delivering data, creating specialized maps, and providing GIS support to many different departments on the installation. It changes every day so there is no getting bored!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Either with CSU or in another position that incorporates geospatial technology. I work with a lot of people that are unfamiliar with GIS and it has been fun showing them its capabilities. For example, teaching them that data can be used to perform analysis when planning and designing projects, rather than GIS just being used for reference maps. If I can continue to help others using GIS, then that is where I see myself for a while.

What advice can you give to those who are still in school?
Get involved and interact with classmates and professors. There are plenty of opportunities, whether it is reaching out to classmates in the lab, working with professors, participating in Geography and Anthropology Club activities, presenting projects outside of class, or attending conferences. These allow you to test your skills and knowledge, while also improving upon them. Plus you get to know people and have some fun.
Practice interviewing based on your experiences from school. There is a big difference between you understanding your work and explaining it to other people. These are more examples of why interacting with others and presenting your work will be beneficial.
Start looking at job requirements early to help you get an idea of what experience you may need. If you are unsure about whether to continue school or start working, talk to alumni or professors. They are great to talk to and are more than happy to help.

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