Sample Materials

The following materials are examples and do not apply to any one person. You will need to adapt them to your situation.

Sample Initial Contact

"Hello, my name is Rene Johnson. The BAAMA Connections Coordinator gave me your name so I could contact you about an informational interview. Do you have a few minutes to talk?

"Thank you. I am currently in the GIS certificate program at Foothill College and am taking my fourth of five classes in the program. I also have an internship with the County of Santa Clara making corrections to the parcel layer.

"Because I'll complete the program soon, I'm researching options in the profession. I'm particularly interested in talking to you because I would like to learn about work in the environmental field. I am also interested in your experience working on a team of consultants.

"I am asking for information and advice, not a job, and I know that your time is valuable. I wonder if we could arrange a time for a 30- or 40-minute informational interview?"

If the person does not have time to talk, ask: "Is there a time that would be more convenient for me to call?"

Sample Personal Statement

Let me tell you a little about myself to give you some background. I have an AA degree in English. I have always enjoyed maps and the process of understanding things spatially. I was excited when I discovered GIS because there are so many interesting applications in a number of different fields.

I started the GIS Certificate Program at Foothill College last year. I'm now in my fourth of five classes and will receive my certificate in December. We have used GIS software from ESRI and Intergraph and also used Excel and Access. As I thought, I've enjoyed the cartographic work, but I've seen how much more there is to GIS. I've really enjoyed certain processes, such as acquiring and integrating data and manipulating the data to get more information than was immediately available.

My work at the County of Santa Clara has been a good practical experience. It has also acquainted me with cadastral issues. My main task has been to update the parcel layer. I'm using ArcGIS 10.2 to add and correct geometry and attributes. My supervisor also asked me to document the procedures involved. With that, we were able to discover some ways to streamline the process. My supervisor plans to use the document in training others.

Sample Informational Interview Questions

Personal

  • What is your educational background?
  • What is your professional background?
  • How did you become interested in GIS?
  • How did you get your present job?
  • What aspects of your work do you find most rewarding?
    • Find most challenging?
    • Like the least?
  • What motivates you in your work?

Job

  • What is your job like week to week?
    • Year to year?
  • What percentage of time do you spend on which tasks?
  • At what level do you make decisions?
  • Do you supervise anyone? If so, in what capacity?
  • How much time do you spend interacting with people?
  • How much pressure do you feel on the job?
  • How many hours per week do you work?

Field

  • What kind of entry-level positions do you see?
  • What are entry-level salaries like?
  • What are some common career paths?
  • What does it take to be successful in the field?
  • What type of people do you see in this field?
  • What negative effects on health can this field have?
  • Where do you see this field going?
  • What are the areas of most growth?

Education, Training, and Skills

  • What education do you think is important to get into this field?
  • What knowledge is important?
  • What skills are important?
  • What is the relative importance of experience, courses, and grades?
  • What personal traits help a person succeed?

Organization

  • What is the culture like here?
  • What is the management style?
  • How are decisions made that influence your work?
  • What is a simplified picture of the organization?
  • What change would most improve the quality of your work?
  • What contributions to professional growth are there?
  • What is the progression of GIS positions and salaries here?
  • What are typical hours? Are they flexible?
  • Is your position typical or atypical in the field?

Miscellaneous

  • Do you see any common misconceptions among new professionals?
  • Are there any job-hunting strategies you recommend?
  • Are there journals, organizations, or other sources I should investigate?
  • Would you be willing to take a look at my résumé and advise me?

Ending

  • Knowing a little bit about me, is there anything you would recommend?
  • How would you proceed if you were in my shoes?
  • Is there anyone else you suggest I talk to for more information?
  • May I contact you again if I have other questions?

Sample Thank You Email

Al,

Thank you for your time yesterday answering my questions about the GIS profession. Your years of experience were invaluable in helping me understand what the work can look like both day to day and over the long term.

Your suggestion that I learn more about databases makes sense to me. I plan to look into the classes offered at Foothill College. And thanks for suggesting that I interview Carol Sturla at the Regional Water Quality Control Board. I will be contacting her to see if we can meet to talk about a governmental approach to environmental GIS.

Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to see me. I will let you know how my career research progresses.

Sincerely,
Rene Johnson

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