Career Resources for GIST Professionals: A Closer Look at Organizations and Conferences

GIST career resources conferences

Professionals in any industry often look to membership societies, professional organizations and industry events, like conferences, to connect with other professionals, further their education and knowledge in the field, and stay up-to-date on current information and trends. In this month’s GIST Online Blog, we review various resources students can join now or in the future to gain support and connections in the GIST field.

GIST Professional Organizations

Two of the top organizations GIST graduates often join include the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association, known as URISA, or a state-level users group such as the North Carolina ArcGIS Users Group Inc. (NCAUG).

URISA has connected GIS professionals for more than 50 years. Edgar Horwood started the organization, stemming from a 1963 conference called the First Annual Conference on Urban Planning Information Systems and Programs, which was first attended by only 48 people.

Today, URISA has grown to include 26 chapters, from Canada to the Caribbean, with thousands of members. URISA acts as a resource for standards and procedures in the field, increases visibility within the overall community and ensures the trust and credibility of GIS professionals. They offer workshops, trainings and a GIS Leadership Academy as well as sponsor conferences for professional development.

On the state-level, NCAUG is a non-profit organization “created to provide a forum for the exchange and distribution of knowledge, techniques, and data for people across North Carolina using and/or associated with software produced by the Environmental Systems Research Institute,” according to the website. Members are from all different areas of GIS in both the public and private sectors.

NCAUG hosts conferences and offers access to symposiums on topics such as unmanned aerial devices and governmental GIS. It also offers scholarships for those pursuing education in the GIS disciplines.

GIS Professional Conferences

The numerous conferences held annually are as advantageous as the numerous organizations available to GIS professionals. Some of the most common conferences for geospatial professionals and students include the Esri User Conference, the NC GIS Conference, the URISA GIS Pro, the UCGIS and the FOSS4G.

The Esri User Conference is held every summer in San Diego, California. This conference brings together over 15,000 GIS professionals from around the world to showcase technology, new and exciting software developments, and educational innovations in GIS.

The NC GIS Conference assembles professionals every two years from across North Carolina and the country to discuss a wide range of topics. This year’s NC GIS Conference was held in February in Raleigh and hosted over 1,000 attendees with professional speakers and educational workshops.

URISA GIS Pro is being held this October 23 – 26, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The conference “celebrates exemplary applications of technology for emergency response, addressing, public health, transportation, economic development, land records, etc. Participants will also share best practices for GIS management and leadership, professional development, certification, and much more.” They also offer a special program track to help students prepare for the GISP® Exam.

UCGIS was held just last month in Arlington, Virginia, and is touted as THE symposium for GIS scholars in U.S. higher education. This year’s theme was CyberGIS and Diverse Partnerships for Geospatial Workforce Development and offered fantastic opportunities for professional and social networking.

FOSS4G is a large, technology-oriented global conference focused on the use of Free and Open Source Solutions for GIS. Held in Boston on August 14 – 19 this year, the conference features keynote speeches, workshops, B2B meetings and numerous topic talks.

These are just some of the many organizations and conferences that provide opportunities for GIS professionals to network and find support across this industry. NC State is an institutional member of many of these organizations, and many of our faculty and students participate in these conferences every year.

Check back in the Fall for more great reflections on the GIST Online Blog, as we take a short summer break.