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Fish out of water


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#1
Guest_philip.macomber_*

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Hello,
my name is Philip, I found this site during my lunch hour. I am
currently working for a small liberal arts university in Indiana. I
work in the infomation technology department building web applications
and building page templates for the university's internal and external
web site. I am trained in natural resources management and land
planning, so consequently I am a fish out of water. My wife is a
faculty member at that same university and is comfortably established.

I
have been trying to find a way back into natural resources so I took a
course in Geospatial Analysis and enjoy it very much. So to make a
story short, taking the course has caused me to think hard about trying
to move my career towards GIS ( I believe that my computer experience
will be very helpful). Thinking through that I realize that I am most
likely in Indiana for the long haul and would need to do much of my
work freelance or establish a company of my own. So, I believe that
finding this site will be very useful as I contemplate what I need to
do next.

#2
Derek Tonn

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"Welcome Philip!

CartoTalk
is an EXCELLENT place where we can all kick-around ideas on freelance
work and entrepreneurship related to cartographic design, and it has
been a major blessing to me in my work. I hope CartoTalk is as good for
you as it has been for me as you look at getting into GIS work. I
""dabbled"" with GIS a bit myself....though my skill-sets and background
lended itself much more towards the ""artistic"" component of the larger
cartographic field, which I have been actively involved in for the past
several years. I love computers, data and ""coding"", but for some reason
GIS work never really seemed to ""mesh"" with me. I've thought about
taking a few GIS classes when I could get the chance, but there are
only 36 hours in the day..... :lol:

Derek "
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#3
mike

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Welcome to the site!

The
best way to learn would definitely be to take courses. GIS is very
broad and can be applicable to many things. Find out where you
interests lie and narrow in on an area of GIS. Since you work in an IT
dept building web apps and the like, you should look into web-GIS
mapping and see if your experience building apps can be shifted to
building GIS apps for your university.




#4
benbakelaar

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Hi
Philip, feel free to drop me a line via private message. I'm in much
the same boat as you, except I majored in geography while working
full-time as a network admin. Even still, my geography program only had
one GIS class, in which we spent 1/2 the semester learning Idrisi (who
remembers that??) and the very basics of ArcView 3.1.

I too find
myself continually dabbling in GIS but not sure where it will lead to
down the career road. I have one friend who is a full-time
cartographer, and after talking to her about projects, deadlines,
clients, etc. I realized I may want to just continue dabbling and
ensure a good salary with my IT position!



#5
Martin Gamache

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"

Hi 
Philip, feel free to drop me a line via private message. I'm in much 
the same boat as you, except I majored in geography while working 
full-time as a network admin. Even still, my geography program only had 
one GIS class, in which we spent 1/2 the semester learning Idrisi (who 
remembers that??) and the very basics of ArcView 3.1.

I too find 
myself continually dabbling in GIS but not sure where it will lead to 
down the career road. I have one friend who is a full-time 
cartographer, and after talking to her about projects, deadlines, 
clients, etc. I realized I may want to just continue dabbling and 
ensure a good salary with my IT position!

http://


Ben & Philip

Not
to change the topic too much but IDRISI is still around and a very good
piece of software to learn GIS with and also to do spatial analysis (in
a raster environment) and any IDRISI skills you learned are easily
transferabel to other GIS. I learned on IDRISI back in 1995 and I did
OK. I havent had any trouble picking up on other software ( and theres
been quite a few) since then. I also saw a demo of IDRISI Killimanjero
the new version of the software a few weeks ago and was blown away by
what it does.

I know it is hard to believe this when you are in
school and not learning the most recent commercial software (ARC
whatever...) but a good solid foundation in GIS theory with any
software is probably more important in the long run than scratching the
surface of the mechanics of one software package. You can easily learn
the nuts and bolts of a software package on your own once you know what
you are trying to do. Most often the software can't do what you want
and this is where the comp. Sci skills come in through customization
and application development. If there is one thing I wish I had learnt
more in school that's it. Not how to use one particular piece of
software.


Computer Science experience is increasingly
becoming the most useful thing to have in order to do GIS in addition
to geography and other science backgound (biology, ecology etc...). If
you know some major programming language and/or database administration
you will be very employable in the field of GIS. I don't know if you'll
be making too many maps but maps are but one of the outputs of spatial
sciences. Think about how to capitalize on the skills you already have
in addition to interests you might also have. Most GIS jobs I see
posted (all over the country) require programming and or database
administration/maintenance skills I suspect it will be the same in
Indianna and having those skills under your belt will give you a slight
edge over other candidates. "

#6
frax

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I
have a colleague at my office now who is an ex-GIS person - he used to
work on Idrisi32 at Clark University, and has a diploma on the wall
from there.

I found Idrisi (the one before Idrisi32) ok to learn
the principles on (actually in parallell to ArcView 3), but I just
found the user interface quite quirky (before you learned it).
Hugo Ahlenius
Nordpil - custom maps and GIS
http://nordpil.com/
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#7
araki5

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"Just to add what Martin said,
IDRISI
is still one of the top GIS proggies around. Now since I've only been a
""professional"" for a year now, that may not mean much, but when I took
my Spatial Analyst class my instructor raved on and on about IDRISI.
BTW, the new version is called ""Andes"".

Phil, one thing I've
noticed in all the GIS job announcements are programming requirements.
Considering my programming is limited(one VBA class under my belt), I
think that is the direction I'm going towards. However, I am finishing
up my intermediate ARCSde class, and I think I'm leaning towards more
DBA side of the house, and GEODATABASES. It seems like a really a good
complement when you know how to use SQL Server(or ORACLE), get
releveant data and put it on a decent map.

So there are a few ""pathways"" you can follow, you just got to find your niche and get in.

BTW, this is THE best reource for tips and advice on making maps. "
Randy Long
GIS/CAD Tech
Mackay and Somps



Raster is Faster, but Vector is Corrector.

#8
MapMedia

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Fish
out of Water - I recommend you take a position as a GIS Analyst (entry
level?) so you have a learn-the-ropes-through-doing experience. Jobs
like this for natural resources agencies and NGOs are valuable as they
provide you with a variety of GIS / cartography tasks and problems to
tackle, and who knows, maybe you will work with a more expierienced
GIS/mapped to learn from. Once you have your feet under you, then I
would consider freelancing.

Hope this was helpful.




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