Annie Brough adds Fleming post-grad to her resume for a competitive edge in job market

annie-broughAnnie Brough needed an edge in the competitive job market, so she decided to add a Fleming College post-graduate program to her resume.

“I wasn’t having any luck finding a job in geography with just my BA,” said Annie, who graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2015 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Geography with minors in Global Studies and French. She then worked various jobs, including work as a hostess, farm and market worker, server, and teaching piano lessons.

“When I was job searching, I noticed there were a decent number of GIS job postings. As a creative, artistic person, I decided that my best chances for success would be to pursue further schooling in GIS,” she said.

Annie exclusively applied to Fleming College’s post-graduate Geographic Information Systems – Cartographic Specialist program because it was highly renowned and had positive reviews online, the program was only three semesters long, and Annie felt her artistic skills and geography knowledge would help her succeed in the Cartographic stream.

“It wasn’t until I attended the GIS Open House that I really understood what I was getting myself into. Seeing all of the amazing work the students accomplished made me super excited to get started, but it also terrified me. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to succeed in the program,” said Annie. “Thankfully, I met a friend from Laurier at the Open House who was just finishing the program, and he gave me some idea of what to expect in the upcoming months and words of encouragement.”

Her experience at Frost Campus was enjoyable and she describes the teachers as fantastic and helpful. She loves that the school is quiet and peaceful, features big windows to let in lots of sunlight, and is full of plants.

Fleming College also made Annie feel more confident about her job prospects, which was why she attended in the first place. Annie said her teachers emailed students job opportunities, related class material to real-life situations, introduced new job prospects and ideas, and welcomed guest speakers from the industry to class. And it worked out, as Annie was hired on contract by Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA) as a GIS Assistant after graduating this year.

“My Fleming education definitely helped me get this job. During my interview, I was asked technical questions about various GIS applications, terms and systems. Without my Fleming education, I wouldn’t have been able to answer the majority of the interview questions,” said Annie. “The Career Centre at the school was also key to my success. They helped to mentally prepare me for the interview, and provided a general idea of what to expect and how best to conduct myself professionally.”

As GIS Assistant, Annie develops and modifies the creation and implementation of geomatics databases; supports projects, including reports, databases, analysis and mapping requests; creates and prepares maps, graphs and other documents for presentations, training and publications; and provides staff with technical support on GIS software, and more.

“The best thing about my job at CLOCA is the people and the opportunities. The people at CLOCA are so friendly and supportive, I felt at home the moment I walked through the door on my first day,” said Annie. “I feel like my Fleming education never ended! I have learned so much at CLOCA, it’s almost hard to comprehend– and I can’t wait to keep on learning!”

Annie said she “100%” recommends the GIS – Cartographic Specialist program at Fleming College. “If you want a job in GIS, apply to this program, it will get you there. Quite a few organizations exclusively hire Fleming GIS graduates,” she said. “The school prepares you for the real world and the teachers are professionals in their fields, with a lot of first-hand experience in many different areas, provinces and countries.”

GIS students gain real world experience through collaborative projects

From the Town of Nebo archaeological project in Jordan to a 3D visualization of Peterborough Airport, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Open House 2017 featured an array of collaborative projects.

At the June 23 event, GIS – Application Specialist and Cartographic Specialist graduates showcased their projects, which they completed in partnership with non-profit and government organizations. The projects were from a variety of fields, including archaeology, forestry, municipal, natural resources, ecology, and technology.

Cartographic Specialist graduate Sean McPherson, who worked with classmates Mackenzie Marsh and Dillon Ward to create a 3D visualization of Peterborough Airport, enjoyed partnering with the County of Peterborough for their collaborative project.

“It shows you more about the real world and how they plan things…” – Sean McPherson

“My experience working with the County was great,” said Sean. “It shows you more about the real world and how they plan things, their structure and how they operate.”

Sean McPherson (left) and Mackenzie Marsh demonstrate the 3D visualization of Peterborough Airport
Sean McPherson (left) and Mackenzie Marsh demonstrate the 3D visualization of Peterborough Airport

The team utilized existing LIDAR data to create a 3D representation and a 2-dimentional map service. LIDAR is the most accurate method of gathering 3D data and in 2015 a joint project between the City of Peterborough and the County of Peterborough was undertaken to collect 10 point/m2 of LIDAR data. The County sought the expertise of Fleming’s GIS program to create an online visualization tool to help demonstrate the value of this data to users.

“They were eager to learn because they didn’t have much experience with the LIDAR there to put it on the web,” said Sean on collaborating with their community partner.

Application Specialist graduate Colleen Gibson believes more government organizations will be using GIS to help share information with constituents.

“I believe within the next five years the government will be pushing for more open data across the board,” said Colleen, who worked with her classmates Colleen McNamara and Brittany Zucchetto to create an Open Data Portal for the City of Barrie. “It helps make the government more transparent and increases community engagement.”

Colleen came to Fleming College after earning her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Geography with a specialization in Geomatics and minor in Global Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, where she was introduced to GIS.

 “I heard lots of good things about Fleming College. It seemed like a great route to go and I’m happy I came” – Colleen Gibson

“I heard lots of good things about Fleming College. It seemed like a great route to go and I’m happy I came,” said Colleen. “I immersed myself in school life. These walls became my home and I know it sounds strange but I really enjoyed it.”

Shannon MacDonald
Shannon MacDonald explains her collaborative project

Cartographic Specialist graduate Shannon MacDonald started her Fleming College studies at home through the online Applications Specialist program.

“It was a pretty intense couple first weeks working in my bedroom doing everything on my own,” said Shannon. “It was a lot, but there was a good support system of profs who encouraged us to network with other online students.”

When Shannon discovered she liked the cartographic side of things more than application, she took her education offline and attended the Cartographic Specialist program in-class at Frost Campus.

 “Everyone felt like a family” – Shannon MacDonald

“Everyone felt like a family. I’m lucky, I know all of the online students and all of the in-class students,” said Shannon, who worked with Application Specialist students Brittney Bourdages and Markus Fleming on the Otonabee Region Watershed Significant Woodlands Mapping collaborative project.

For Annie Brough, Brad Oster and Adam Prong, who worked together on the Conservation Areas Web Apps project for Otonabee Region Conservation Authority, graduating is extra sweet because all three have jobs lined up in their field.

(l-r): Brad Oster, Annie Brough, and Adam Prong
(l-r): Brad Oster, Annie Brough, and Adam Prong

Cartographic Specialist graduate Annie Brough has been hired as GIS Assistant for Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, Application Specialist graduate Brad Oster will be Planning Technician for the Township of Severn in Orillia, and Cartographic Specialist graduate Adam Prong will return to Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc. – where he worked for three years prior to attending Fleming – as an Archaeological Field Technician. Adam hopes to take on more mapping responsibilities with his new skills and education, and has a meeting this week to discuss it.

“I had to answer lots of technical questions and I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise” – Annie Brough, who has been hired as GIS Assistant for Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority

Annie said her Fleming education was useful in her job interview. “I had to answer lots of technical questions and I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” she said. “And lots of the government workers there are graduates of this program and hire from this program. The majority come from Fleming– there and at the MNR.”

Brad said Fleming not only prepared him with the technical knowledge needed to answer his job interview questions, but with a strong and well-crafted resume as well. Brad explained that Fleming Career Services gave a presentation on resume writing to his class and he used this information to write his resume for the Township of Severn position.

And Brad and his teammates are entering the work world with real experience thanks to their collaborative project with Otonabee Region Conservation Authority. “It helps you get real work experience,” said Brad. “It shows you how things would operate in a real workplace before you graduate.