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Internships, Resume, Jobs...advice

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Erin John LeFevre

Erin John LeFevre

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I am getting ready to graduate this May with a degree in Geography (Cartography and GIS focus) and was wondering if anyone has any advice on finding an internship or entry level position doing Cartographic work? So far I've been limited to applying for entry level GIS positions which is discouraging, because my primary interest is in creating useful and fun interactive online maps and printed cartographic products. I do enjoy GIS work, but it seems like most GIS positions out there revolve around processing piles and piles of "data", with little concern over communicative design. In other words, they are looking for button pushers "factory workers". No thanks. I've also applied for two cartographic positions with the government (BLM and NPS) through the usajobs.gov website, but I have little faith my resume will ever be read by an actual human being. I get the feeling my resume went directly to some catch all resume junk folder located in the basement of an old governmental building in Guam that closed down in the 80's.

For those of you who are professional cartographers (Geographers) with employees, what do you look for in an entry level resume/employee? Porfolio? Courses? Bribes? At this point I am thinking that if I want to pursue cartography, I need to do it on my own (if only I had more experience!), or go directly into graduate school. I am also considering finding a job doing graphic design work. There seems to be plenty of opportunities for webdesigners, print designers, et cetera. At least that way I could stay somewhat on a "design" path...rather than falling into a GIS position that destroys all of the creativity and design skills I once had. I am considering graduate school, but at the same time, I would like to start "making maps", and stop "talking about" making maps. At least for a little while. Any insight into entering into the field would be great. Erin

Nick Springer

Nick Springer

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I had the same dilemma when I graduated with a Geography degree, and I desire to "design" maps. I followed the Graphic Design path and started out as a Production Artist until I was able to build a portfolio and move into other jobs as an actual Designer. During this time I did freelance map work to keep my cartography skills fresh and because it was what I really wanted to do. Eventually my design career led me to a job with a large software company run by a guy name Bill G. ;) where they were actually looking for a map designer (I have since moved on to othe design and map related jobs).

The point is you have to figure out a way to pay the bills in the short term while building both your design and cartography skills, while on the lookout for that perfect job. In my case that search took 6 years after I graduated in 1992.

Hopefully that doesn't discourage you. There are jobs out there for cartographic designers.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC

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