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Thread: GIS fears

  1. #1
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    GIS fears

    Hello. Iím new around here (and new to grad school); this is my first question. Itís not a very profound one unfortunately Ė more of a personal one, I guess.

    While I am beginning to understand the importance placed upon GIS abilities, and I see how often it is listed in job announcements as a necessary skill, I am wary as a new graduate student of becoming pigeonholed into being a ďcomputer personĒ or techie. Iíve seen people in my current field (architecture) who are skilled in, for example, 3D Studio Max production, get boxed into that role while not learning about the more substantive aspects of architecture. I understand GIS is pretty fundamental in many aspects of the Planning field (and likewise it would be terribly hard to exist in the architectural profession at this time without being an AutoCAD user), and though I donít particularly love computers per se, I also donít pretend I wonít have to be using computers most of the time anyway. But can anyone confirm the extent to which becoming a GIS Ďexpertí can be in some senses limiting? While I know that you have to start somewhere in a profession, I guess I am just a little afraid that getting GIS coursework experience might force me into becoming someone primarily responsible for the more mechanical aspects of extracting data rather than hopefully interpreting, influencing policy, etc., at some point in my career. Is this a legitimate fear?

    Thanks for your comments.

    Rob

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I can understand your concern, and I do suspect that in larger organizational structures, whether public sector or private, it seems you have a greater liklihood for the pidgeon hole effect. If you are seriously concered, try seeking out employment ina small community or small firm, where your duties and responsibilities will run the gammut, and not allow you to get bogged down in any one element.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    PM me sometime...I've gone through the process of getting a certificate in GIS in college (at UAlbany). You're more than welcome to swing by sometime and chat GIS. Anyway...as for being "forced" into GIS...you can avoid it. GIS got my foot in the door, but I showed that I had more skills and interest to keep me from being "the GIS guy" only. It's all about how you market yourself.
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  4. #4
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    We have a full time GIS tech, and then I am an alternate. He does not get to leave the office all that much, puts in long hours, and does only GIS stuff.

    Me on the other hand, I have it good. I get to go out side and play (Zoning and Codes), but ľ of my time is spent doing GIS work. This weekend, I put in 7.5 hours (I get comp-time) to work on a new 3D project. I close my eyes and I still can see the elevation lines, and shape files that I used for road ways, over passes, sound walls, grassy medians, retaining walls, and most of all, elevations.

    It does happen though, but remember, you donít have to take a job offer. If it is not want you Ďwantí to do, look some place else.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I think it is listed mostly as a skill so that they know you can something when you have to, and be able to communicate with your techs and understand what teh techs do and what is possible.

    I had a previous supervisor who thought that GIS coul ddo everything instantly and the tech hated his requests. When I made requests, my basic understranding of how teh software works helped me get things done quocker.

    A basic understanding also lets you know when your tech is BS'ing you. I once asked for something to be done, was told it could not be, then showed the tech yes it can be done and next time you'll do it for me this way.

    Just remember that GIS is a tool that is only as good as the person using it and the person using it is only as good as the data and the questions being asked.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  6. #6
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    Thanks to all for the input. I am required by my program to receive some GIS training and will be happy to list it as a skill but I guess I just have to be on guard against accepting a position that is too intensely tech-oriented. (At times, one tends to have the attitude that he or she should accept any job offer! - but that's obviously not too smart.) Lastly, to Geogplanner, thanks for the offer - hopefully we can talk more!

    Rob

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