Are you a Geographer?
Are you interested in multidisciplinary studies?
Most Geographers choose geography because they are interested in “everything.” Geography is unique in that it offers students a chance to learn about many different phenomena from multiple perspectives.
Do you prefer window seats on airplanes?
Geography tries to explain the constantly-changing patterns of human activity and natural phenomena on the landscape.
Do you like to travel?
Many geographers specialize in a particularpart of the world such as Latin America, Middle East, Europe, Asia, or Africa.
Do you like working with computers?
Individuals with specialized computer skills such as geographers obtain jobs working for the Federal and Local government, Engineering firms, Defense Intelligent companies, Urban Planning agencies, NGOs and others.
Are you interested in the relationship between humans and the natural environment?
One of geography's strengths is its ability to integrate ideas about human behavior and the natural environment. Geographers see the human and the physical world as one, and a system that we have transformed and that has transformed us.
See the testimonials below to find out where Department of Geographical Sciences alumni have ended up, and read their advice to current undergraduate students!
What internships or independent research did you do as a GEOG/GIS/ENSP major?
- One of the best things about UMD is the proximity to so many great places that are doing work in geography. Internships were a key part to my understanding of geospatial technology. I began interning as a sophomore at the Smithsonian National Museum of National History as part of my College Park Scholars program. During the fall of senior year, I worked with at the USDA in order to better develop some of my technical skills. To finish senior year and after graduation, I interned with the remote sensing company GeoEye. I also had an opportunity to spend one summer working at Esri during my graduate studies. - Jeremy Mirmelstein, 2007 grad, ESRI Database Analyst
- I interned with UMD's Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), where I contributed to the development of the Chesapeake Bay Forecast System. I also participated in a few projects with my Geography Dept. advisor, Dr. Stephen Prince, relating to archaeology and forest cover. - Tom Fitzwater, 2008 grad, US Census Bureau Geographer
- I interned on a certified organic, sustainable farm, House in the Woods in Maryland for a summer as my major requirement. The next summer I interned at the University of Cape Coast, in Ghana, West Africa doing research for their Department of Fisheries. - Allison Gost, 2012 grad, Assistant to UMD Global Forest Cover Change Projec t
What recommendations would you make to current GEOG/GIS/ENSP majors for career and academic success while they are still undergraduates?
- I can’t stress enough how important internships were to my geographic education. There are an endless number of internships in Geography in the DC area. Almost every federal agency, NGO, non-profit, state, and local government agency has a GIS department that is always looking for interns. These may not be the best paying jobs (if they pay at all – and some of mine didn’t), but you will gain a great deal of experience that will really impress future employers down the road. - Jeremy Mirmelstein, 2007 grad, ESRI Database Analyst
- Learn technical skills – know how to work efficiently by automating simple tasks. If you can take a computer programming class, do it. Knowing how to save your future employer time & money will go a long way! - Jeremy Mirmelstein, 2007 grad, ESRI Database Analyst
- Get an internship! Coursework is valuable, but practical experience is absolutely vital for enhancing your skills and gaining a perspective on the field. You may even get your foot in the door and line up a post-graduation career. At the very least, you should aim to make a good impression with some potential references for future jobs or graduate school applications. Also, don't fear programming or mathematics; those skills are in high demand in the GIS field. - Tom Fitzwater, 2008 grad, US Census Bureau Geographer
- Programming doesn’t have to be your focus, but definitely have some sort of focus to differentiate yourself from other graduates with a degree in GIS and no real direction in terms of what you want to do with that knowledge. Geography is in many ways an applied science, so find something you love and go with that, and when you interview for jobs you will have experience both with geography and that field. - Josh Peterson, 2010 grad, ESRI employee
- Get to know your professors, get involved early, and stay in contact with professors semesters later when they are no longer your professors. If you have a professor who does work in a field you might be interested in, go talk to them about it. Don't limit your professor / student relationships to strictly classroom materials. Ask them how they got to where they are, if they have any suggestions or advice to give you as you figure out your future path, etc. I would recommend forming those relationships as early and consistently as possible - yes you'll get a great recommendation from a professor if you're a good student. But those professors will be more willing to write a killer recommendation for you if they know you on a more personal level, if they know your goals & aspirations. As for the getting involved - everyone says it, but I know first hand, having waited until Junior year to really make an effort to fully involve myself and develop the Geography Club that I would have had a much easier & enjoyable 3 years here if I had gotten involved as soon as I came to this department. There is a reason everyone recommends getting involved - it pays off more then you can imagine.The most important piece of advice I can give as an alum is to recognize that this department offers you so much more then just an opportunity to get a great education and to take advantage of all that this department has while you're here & don't forget to enjoy yourself; you have a short time as a student and you don't want to waste it. - Allison Gost, 2012 grad, Assistant to UMD Global Forest Cover Change Project
What recommendations would you make to current GEOG/GIS/ENSP majors for career and academic success after graduation?
Be self sufficient and resourceful. In order to be successful in academia and the workplace you don’t have to know everything! Knowing where to look for the answer is often half the battle. - Jeremy Mirmelstein, 2007 grad, ESRI Database Analyst
Keep up with the latest trends in the field by signing up for the occasional training course and attending conferences (e.g., AAG, Esri UC, ASPRS). Conferences are also great for networking with other people in your field. By staying sharp and making connections, you stay at the cutting edge and position yourself well for the future. In a rapidly-evolving field like GIS, keeping current is an absolute must. - Tom Fitzwater, 2008 grad, US Census Bureau Geographer
As for the application and interview process, the most important thing is patience. Most applications are submitted online and not even reviewed for a few weeks or more (at least that’s the case with ESRI, Booz, and a few others). I submitted my application to ESRI in October and heard back in March. The interview process itself took a while as well, three phone screenings followed by an 8-hour all-day interview with 9 ESRI employees. As far as preparation, know the company like the back of your hand – I spent hours going through the corporate website learning the organizational structure and company history, and it paid off during the interview. Take multiple copies of your resume with you to give to anyone who may ask for one, and a portfolio of your work. Since a lot of the communication before my interview was done via email, I decided to create a website as my portfolio. A lot of my coursework was digital anyway, so having a website to display my past work made the most sense. The interviewers looked through my work before the interview and actually brought a laptop into the interview so that we could go through some of my work together, which gave them a greater understanding of my thought processes and work habits. - Josh Peterson, 2010 grad, ESRI employee
Take risks with your internships or research experiences. If you have the opportunity to do something that is a bit of a stretch for you, take it. Do not settle on the safe bet. You're internships are there to build experience and teach you, yes - but they are also there to figure out if you're on the right path. My internship on the farm totally changed my career paths, it taught me a lesson - I don't want to be in an office. Great - I just learned what I want to do; but internships can be good for the opposite as well. My research in Ghana taught me that research may not be a good career choice for me, even though before I left I swore I would do research for the rest of my career. If you find yourself in an internship that you don't like initially, stick with it - you never know what you'll learn about yourself or your goals during it. School is the time to find out what you want to do for your career - or at least the path you want to start on - and doing as much as you can to figure that out inside, but especially outside of the classroom, will help ensure success & satisfaction with your job or schooling choices after graduation. - Allison Gost, 2012 grad, Assistant to UMD Global Forest Cover Change Project
Check out our powerpoint presentation on why YOU should become a Geography Major at the University of Maryland!