As a consultant, there isn’t really a “typical” work week for me and I needed the flexibility to attend meetings, perform field work, and other activities that aren’t always compatible with a conventional class room schedule. The MGIS program is perfect for people who require the flexibility to concentrate their studies during evenings and weekends.
My favorite thing about the program is the opportunities it provided to broaden my horizons. The breadth of the material combined with the diverse backgrounds of students and faculty provides students with opportunities to rethink their understanding of what GIS is and what it can be used for. This really came into focus for me during the Capstone Project, particularly once I had the opportunity to review other students’ proposals and finished projects. The creativity and innovation on display within the program is really impressive.
I am using my degree as one of the building blocks to improve my effectiveness in business development and executing projects. The MGIS degree is a great credential to show on my resume when putting proposals together. My work in the program definitely improved my writing, and helped me rethink how I approach solving problems.
Several years ago I transitioned from production work to a technical lead role where I am directing my team on projects. When considering going back to school, one thing that was really important to me was developing a good understanding of first principals so that I had a better understanding of what the rest of my team was doing. This has provided a number of opportunities to bridge the communication gaps between our GIS staff and the hydrologists and hydraulic engineers I work with. Being able to speak to both GIS and engineering conceptual frameworks is providing some new opportunities for our organization and how we tackle problems for our clients.
My time in the program is one of the highlights of my professional life, however it is challenging and requires a lot of personal discipline to be successful. I think the best advice I can offer is to look for opportunities to meet your instructors and classmates face to face. For me, the alumni events at the Esri UC, AAG, and attending graduation at Penn State were extremely valuable, as they brought the online learning experience into the real world. There are few things more satisfying that talking to other people who have shared this experience with you.