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Tufts Lunch & Learn Speaker Profile : Michael Terner

by Hyun An on February 8, 2016

Meet Michael Terner, the Executive Vice President and a founding partner of Applied Geographics who is also a Tufts Alumni. Michael Terner graduated Tufts with a major in Environmental Studies, and came back to enlighten us about the career opportunities in the GIS industry.


At the Lunch & Learn last week, Terner talked about the full emergence of cloud technology and his outlook of GIS and mapping application on mobile devices. He discussed and described the current market conditions of the technologies behind the big wave of innovation occurring right now. After his talk, Mr. Terner met with a group of students to discuss career paths. These are some of the questions he addressed:



What are your thoughts about going to grad school?

I went straight into the workforce after receiving my Bachelor’s degree from Tufts. I think going to grad school will only be helpful if you are certain about what you really want to do. Otherwise, there are more benefits in experiencing other things in the world. Working had really opened up a new perspective of career fields in the environmental industries for me. In order to get what you really want from grad school, I think it would be better to experience the world first.


Do a lot of environmental companies now use GIS?

Nowadays, smaller companies outsource GIS and large companies own separate teams for GIS. Thus, the short answer is, yes, many companies use GIS.


What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The most rewarding aspect of his job as a GIS consultant is variety. There is an incredible diversity in terms of sectors that I work with but also within the projects. Project diversity ranges from designing, to data analysis and programming. Another rewarding aspect of my job is being able to monitor the projects from their initiation to completion stages. I also really enjoy learning something new from every project by resolving problems from the beginning to the end.


What are some qualities that you look for when recruiting interns at your company, in students that don’t have any programming experience?

Even though a student may not have experience in programming, I would say that knowing what you can do with GIS is extremely important. Students interested in developing a career at a GIS company who do not have programming backgrounds should still understand how to design a project using GIS. Some questions worth asking would be: What can you do with the technology? What will the end result look like? In order to work in the GIS field, I’d say that he or she does not have to be a GIS person, but what is more important is to know the GIS business landscape. This knowledge about GIS will be an important asset when looking for jobs in the environmental industry.


Are there any opportunities for students who are good at communication?

There will be more communications opportunities at companies where GIS is a component. Project manager positions would be specifically good matches for students interested in the communication side of our industry. However, it would be hard to find roles that are completely devoid of technical skills. I would strongly encourage the students to at least understand the technology.


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