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Thread: GIS experience?

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    Aklys joossa's Avatar
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    GIS experience?

    I was accepted into the GIS (Geographic Information System) Certificate Program at my school. I figured that since I am majoring in Geography, I might as well jump into one of the most demanded aspects of mapping in the field.

    The "program" itself is smaller than a minor; it's only composed of a handful of courses. I have already gotten advisement from professors and have spoken to grad students about the subject. I already even got a brief introduction to GIS in my Geographer's Craft class last semester.

    I will be taking the Introduction to GIS course this Fall semester, and I would like to know if any of you have taken GIS courses or are even certified in GIS. What were your overall experiences with the classes? How did you find the classes in terms of difficulty?

    Thanks for the insight.
    -Joel from Southern California


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    Hi there joosa, I have taken some GIS myself. I did it as part of a geoscience program, but I would not say it is particularly challenging. To start, that is, at least.

    With that said, Arcmap can be an infuriating piece of software that does what it wants most of the time. You can achieve an extreme level of complexity, but it becomes progressively more difficult to accomplish tasks as you try more sophisticated projects. Using the functions isn't bad, making it do precisely what you want can be. Sometimes to the point of insanity.

    Its a great tool that can really stink at the same time is my feeling about it. The more proficient you are with computers (programming, managing file types, dealing with metadata, etc.) the easier it tend to be to try and force it to do what you want. The classes I have been in were not bad though, I find it is a matter of figuring out the software yourself with help from whoever teaches. I would not worry though, but you have to play with it a lot to get to know it, lectures did squat for me.

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    I took a GIS class ~1999 and used it a little more a couple years ago for a class when finishing my MS in Geography. I wholeheartedly agree with santanoni about how aggravating ESRI software (Arc-anything) can be. However, people who use it enough to become proficient, like you will be, have no trouble with it and can do amazing things.

    It's much more user-friendly now than it was when I originally learned ArcInfo, but ESRI seems to design its interfaces and data functions to be as annoying as possible. GIS experience isn't a nonstop ticket to a high-paying job like it was ten years ago, but it's a very valuable skill, especially in the careers your degree will lead you to. Making the effort for that certificate is a great idea and good luck.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Aklys joossa's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses, guys! I'm looking forward to it.
    -Joel from Southern California


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    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    I was so so bad in geography.
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    With that said, Arcmap can be an infuriating piece of software that does what it wants most of the time. You can achieve an extreme level of complexity, but it becomes progressively more difficult to accomplish tasks as you try more sophisticated projects. Using the functions isn't bad, making it do precisely what you want can be. Sometimes to the point of insanity.
    Amen! lol

    Last winter I took a section of courses from ESRI thanks to a grant I got through my college. So, I probably know a half percent of how infuriating it can get... One of the worst aspects, I found, was the project creator- it's pretty much just your average word program from 1994. Seriously, positioning text boxes by X,Y coordinates? Please. They spent a few hours showing us how to use the creator while we could have accomplished the same results in mere minutes using ANY modern (or even semi-modern) word app.

    Still, I hope to get to play with it a bit more in the future. I figure that it can't be a bad skill to have. It's showed up on several job/assistant applications that I've seen in the past few months alone.
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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    Yes, it's definitely worth learning. I wouldn't recommend specializing in it, but having it on top of whatever your specialty is can make a big difference in finding work or graduate school or even helping a nonprofit you want to support.

    Just keep in mind that ESRI's dictionary does not include the word intuitive. I've worked with a wide range of software and, for the most part, have figured it out on my own. It just doesn't work that way with ESRI. So, if you take classes, pay attention, take notes and try it out immediately, while you can still remember what the teacher was doing. If you want to learn it on your own, get a book and follow the directions. As you learn it, it'll begin to make sense, but don't count on being able to figure it out as easily as other software.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Aklys joossa's Avatar
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    Well, I am done with my intro class and want to report back. We mainly learned how to use ESRI's ArcView. Since it was an introduction course, we didn't use many of the sophisticated spatial analysis tools available. We covered aspects of map creation, data acquisition, georeferencing, table management, feature symbology, geocoding, and basic spatial analyses (spatial clips, dissolves, and buffers).

    Personally, I found that class really enjoyable. Learning how to work the system was easy for me. However, many of my peers had lots of difficulties at one point or another. I walked away with an "A" in the course and with a hefty amount of knowledge. I can't wait to start the intermediate course.

    Anyway, if any of you college students get a chance to take a GIS course (even if its for a general education requirement), I recommend it. The system can be applied to countless fields of study and it may make your resume more appealing to your employer.
    -Joel from Southern California


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