ESRGC Fall Spotlight 2023
"As great as my classes were, I didn’t often get exposure to what working in GIS really looked like. The idea of working with an organization that is focused primarily on GIS sounded like a terrific idea."
Name: Nick Dent
Graduation date/ School: Salisbury University, December 2023
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
When did you first use GIS?
I first used GIS in the spring of 2022 in an introductory GIS course. I was immediately captivated and knew GIS was a perfect fit for me. I made my first map, however, when I was 16 years old. I should probably keep this to myself, but weeks were dumped into drawing an indoor map of my high school and recreating the building layout in Halo (a video game). It didn’t work out and I likely wasted 70 hours of my life.
What is something you wish everyone knew about GIS?
I wish people knew the importance GIS brings to the table in terms of the capacity to better our lives. Being able to spatially analyze data allows us to find otherwise invisible trends and patterns. Even finding really simple trends such as the distribution of grocery stores, could have large impacts on communities if properly addressed.
What interested you in working with the ESRGC?
It felt incredible to take my first few GIS classes and I couldn’t have been happier finding a major that suited me so well. As great as my classes were, I didn’t often get exposure to what working in GIS really looked like. The idea of working with an organization that is focused primarily on GIS sounded like a terrific idea.
What task(s) do you work on at ESRGC?
So far, the ESRGC has given me several different tasks from which I have learned dozens of new skills, shortcuts, and strategies for approaching problems and thinking outside of the box. These include creating web apps, geocoding, digitizing, and even building field maps. While trial and error have enormously assisted in my learning at the ESRGC, each employee has remarkable amounts of experience and knowledge surrounding GIS. No question of mine gets left unanswered!
While working with the ESRGC what surprised you most or what is something that you learned from it?:
Interestingly, I anticipated not being super fond of field work. It wasn’t until I went to Crisfield, Maryland that I found out that field work is really cool. I learned a ton of fascinating information about how water drains from coastal population centers and that when you're walking in tall marsh grass you really have to be on the lookout for water snakes. In all seriousness, I believed sitting behind a desk for 40 hours a week was honestly right for me, but I found that mixing it up and going out into the field to collect data is a great time.
Have you gone to any GIS conferences? How did they go?
In August 2023, I attended TUgis at Towson University. I had no idea what to expect and was genuinely nervous, but as the first day progressed I found myself to be thoroughly enjoying myself. The conference was two days long and had an abundance of GIS professionals give talks about various GIS and remote sensing related subjects. Additionally, there was a fantastic section tailored towards emerging professionals and guidance towards a future in GIS.
Dream job? (doesn’t have to be GIS/ESRGC related)
My dream job is to be the NASCAR flag waver at the finish line. Then I could make Kyle Busch lose every time. Alternatively, I could be on the Outback Steakhouse corporate GIS team. I LOVE Outback Steakhouse. Those are my options.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I enjoy woodworking, hanging out with friends, and videogames. The woodworking gets pretty expensive for a college student, so I tend to only get through four or so projects a year.
Do you have a LinkedIn ?
The Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative (ESRGC) at Salisbury University regularly features a current or former intern for our Intern Spotlight. The ESRGC provides geographic information system (GIS) technology, data, technical support, and training to governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations in Maryland and across the Mid-Atlantic. Since launching in 2004, the ESRGC has provided valuable paid internships to hundreds of Salisbury University students, allowing them to learn real-world skills that prepare them for a direct transition to the workforce. ESRGC internships range from analyzing databases for local governments to field verifying broadband access in rural areas, and everything in between. For more information on how your organization could leverage the advantage of this inexpensive, highly-motivated, technical GIS intern, or how to apply for an internship, please contact Lauren McDermott.