Advice from College to Career:
The Significance of the Esri User Conference for College Grads
Let's be honest; life after college can seem daunting. Where will you find your professional calling? How will you be able to pay rent and student loans at the same time? Who will hire you for an entry-level job if you don't have more than five years of experience? Every day, it seems like Millennials are being told that jobs are becoming more scarce, while housing is getting more expensive. Leveraging success is difficult when there are no places to start out strong in the workforce. Until now.
As a college senior in an undergraduate program, I've pondered these questions as well. I wondered if college would set me up for failure, but I realized that it all depends on how you take advantage of external opportunities. What I mean by opportunities are career fairs, soul-searching gap years, volunteer programs, internships, and especially any young professional workshops and conferences.
Thanks to the year I spent as a volunteer with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, I was able to serve the Federal Emergency Management Agency, under the Department of Homeland Security, with regard to external affairs in emergency management. Throughout that experience, I learned, among other things, how to make an ArcGIS map with the Department of Defense team in Oakland, California.
These experiences have brought me to the internship program at Esri headquarters in Redlands, California. Now that I am here, I can tell you that the Esri User Conference (Esri UC) is the right place to start finding your calling in service to others through technology
How you got your ticket to the conference isn't important; the question is, what do you do now?
As someone attending for the first time, I expected the Esri User Conference to be nerdy with pods of people in matching, colorful, graphic-printed, shirts next to start-ups, vendors, and inspirational speakers.
Even though what I envisioned or wanted to get out of my first experience at the Esri User Conference may be different than your expectations, I want to emphasize, from an intern's perspective,the things that should not be missed are as follows:
- New Attendee Orientation
New attendees are welcome to an orientation at the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC). Esri staff will give you the scoop on conference activities and show you how to download the Esri UC app and build your schedule of sessions. This will also be a good time for you to navigate the halls of the massive Convention Center
- The Young Professionals Network
Throughout the week of the Esri User Conference, all attendees can participate in networking experiences with peers as well as thought leaders and industry experts. There will be panels of professionals that speak to you and even a networking “pool party”. These experiences will make it worth the visit to Esri UC as a college graduate, and these events are geared toward people like us!
By participating in these options at the conference, you'll then be able to find demos or sessions that you're specifically interested in. There is something for everyone at the Esri User Conference—even for young adults.