The 2017 Esri User Conference: A Unique Experience for an Esri Intern

Blog Post created by Raquel_Perez-esristaff Employee on Aug 10, 2017

By TJ Norton, Documentation for ArcGIS Enterprise Team



My entire experience as an intern has been an adventure for me, because I had never been to California before I left to work for Esri in mid-June. Thus, I had no idea what to expect when I arrived in San Diego for a day at the Esri User Conference.


The San Diego Convention Center is a perfect venue for the Esri User Conference. For Esri, a company that prides itself on its commitment to its Southern California roots, it makes sense for its international user outreach event to be in one of the nicest locales in their home area. The company also affirms its commitment to its users by treating them to a breezy, seaside locale. 


Immediately across the street from the convention center were several crowded restaurants, serving anything from Mexican to burgers, for parties of GIS users. To those like myself who wanted food on the go, San Diego’s collection of food trucks were found adjacent to the convention center. These trucks filled hundreds of hungry stomachs in quick succession so that the users could make the most of their time in San Diego. In the middle of all this food is Petco Park, a must-see for any baseball fan who wants to see the current home of the San Diego Padres.


Growing from the original conference that took place on Esri’s Redlands campus, the 38th UC filled the 525,000 square feet of the San Diego Convention Center. Companies who specialized in GPS navigation, drone technology, parcel data, and other technologies flooded the vendor area occupying the ground floor of the convention center. Navigating from the entrance to the top floor, I found myself surrounded by fellow GIS users who spanned industries from science to local government. The first event I attended had to overflow into another room because so many passionate users were curious about Esri’s updates to ArcGIS Pro. Like many others, I was curious about this user-friendly, newer GIS platform, as its goal appears to be superseding the commonly utilized desktop GIS that I honed my skills on in college. Overall, the large crowds are to be expected though. Today, the Esri UC consistently ranks in the top five annual events for the San Diego Convention Center in terms of attendance.


Beyond the vendor and presentation areas, the SAILS pavilion of the convention center was filled with maps Esri’s partners made to demonstrate their work in urban planning and environmental advocacy. These maps were widely-spaced throughout the large room as a signal to inspire the Esri user community, as each person’s gaze was meant to slowly analyze each map and the crucial issue that it visualized. 


Each demonstration I attended had an enthusiastic speaker, who were all Esri employees, that provided insight into the newest updates in Esri’s software and technology. In the presentation on ArcGIS Pro I attended, I learned about updates to the program from installation through map presentation. In a later session on story maps, I learned the difference between Cascade Story Maps and Map Journals. Through examples provided on Esri’s website, my group was successfully able to understand the various ways to provide story maps to consumers or constituents.


My day concluded on the last bus leaving the San Diego Convention Center heading to Redlands. My willingness to stay for an extra hour to explore the nearby parts of San Diego and the Esri Store and mingle at the various nighttime social events allowed me to reflect on my full-day experience. Though my day started early, I was happy that I attended the UC. I learned a lot about San Diego, and how different industries apply GIS and deploy Esri software in various ways to assist in their work. Thus, even though I was not as well-versed in the UC as some of the decades-long veterans of Esri who also attended, I felt more in touch with Esri and the Esri user community by being able to reach out to them and learn from them.


Learn more about Esri’s internship program at esri.com/interns.



Esri Young Professionals Network Esri Press Esri Education Team Corianne Eldridge