Navigating GIS Without Computer Science Knowledge
I’m in my final push: 4th year at Carleton University. When I first started studying at Carleton, I had no idea what Geomatics was. A student who I met on my first day said he was majoring in Geomatics and the first thing I said was “ew”. But wait…I needed to meet a Geomatics requirement to graduate. So I took the first year course, and next thing you know, I’m minoring in it and am part of the ECCE program.
Now, keep in mind that I study Human Geography – so anything computer science related was not recognizable to my social science way of thinking. So how did I get from “ew” to earning a GIS Scholarship through ESRI? And how can you too? Let’s see…
- Motivation. To succeed in something that you have no previous knowledge to, you must be motivated to learn.
- For me, I had a lot of motivation. I mean, who is going to hire a Human Geographer with no technical skills? Having Geomatics as a minor would help me expand my skillset and open new doors for after graduation.
- Active learning. Looking for ways to learn something or ways to advance your knowledge on certain topics help further your knowledge to keep you at the same level as everyone else.
- I took a 4th year GIS course that was based on Python. I had to Google what Python was to even know what it was – that’s how much I didn’t know. I knew I would be at a disadvantage in the class. To try and mitigate this, I took “Python for Everyone” through ESRI’s training website. I researched a lot about Python and practiced and practiced and practiced.
- Perseverance. It’s simple enough – push through it! Stick to what you’re learning and don’t give up, especially when it is difficult.
- I could have taken the easy route in 1st year. I could have taken my required Introduction to Geomatics course and then never taken another Geomatics course for the rest of my life. But I liked the challenge, so I pushed myself to learn. Now I only have one course left to fulfill my Geomatics minor requirements and I am so proud of how far I’ve come.
- Seek assistance. You can’t do it all on your own, that’s for sure. Asking your friend, a professor, or a colleague for help with help you more than you think.
- I have a wonderful Geomatics professor who helped me through all my Geomatics troubles. He pushed me to succeed and to surpass what I thought my limits were. I also leaned on the other ECCE associates at Carleton for assistance. I am forever grateful for the help and for seeing something in me that I couldn’t see at first.
- Have fun!
- Learning a whole new sphere of life is difficult, but keep in mind that it can be fun. Turn it into a game, into a challenge! Try not to stress too much, and remember to do things that make you happy. You’re going to be more open to learning if you’re in a good place in your life.
In conclusion, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Geomatics and the computer science behind it all. I’ve learned that I’m definitely meant to be a user of the products ESRI puts forward instead of a back-end developer. You won’t know where you properly fit until you try fitting in every corner.