Students in the GIS program in Columbia, Missouri have an opportunity most students do not have, gaining knowledge and experience in the GIS field. The program is a three-year program where the last year students are placed in an internship position within a GIS department. The valuable experience they gain by working with other GIS professionals provides another line on their resume but also an individual they can use as a reference. This past year our program like most was moved to the virtual environment, success was enabled by technology such as internet connectivity, Zoom, and ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS online software. Each of these were an integral part and without all of them the program could not have been completed with high level of learning. Student are expected to produce high levels of work by second and third year. My students continue on to high education with a few going into the military using their GIS skills. Many reports the course work they are required to take in college is a review of what they have learned in high school. Our program has dual credit with the University of Missouri and Missouri State, so they do earn college credit for the classes they take in high school. Certification of a program is a piece a paper and many times is produced by companies trying to find a niche for profit. Providing a portfolio of your work should show an employer what you are capable. The more rounded an employee is makes them a more desirable candidate for the position. Focusing only on one knowledge set or skill will leave you in the unemployment line. Students should double and triple on the skill set. Students in my program are encouraged to add tools such as computer networking and hardware, programming, web design, communications and several more. Our students have the opportunities many schools cannot provide or afford. I am proud to say every student who is gone through this program is working in a GIS field. They started way ahead of their peers because of this program and this made the difference in where they are today.
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