I know this is technically seeking advice, but, to me, advice on the subject is considered an answer to the question. Therefore, I wouldn't consider this to be outside the bounds of this StackExchange. I am looking for an answer that would include advice of what I should strive for and why it is important.

I am new to GIS. I started a job doing part-time work for a place that had just launched a GIS side project. That side project is rapidly evolving into something bigger and I am the sole person in charge of making it happen. I didn't go to school for this. I am self-taught and learning as I go to provide what is requested.

How do I continue to be productive and proactive at work?

Since I have no prior experience, I do not have many fresh ideas that I can present to help grow and evolve this project. Where can I seek inspiration in order to propose new projects and train myself? The last thing I want is to be working here and have everyone ask "...What does he even do?". My job includes both gathering data in the field and presenting it via printed maps. I use the ESRI ArcGIS suite.


3 Answers 3


If you really want to make yourself valuable (and marketable), learn how to code. Demand for programmers in GIS-related fields is only going to go up as it becomes increasingly mainstream.

There are a number of other questions about this here so I'll just reference them rather than restating everything.


In my opinion, being productive and being proactive are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes a day spent learning about a new technique or tool can pay off big in the long run by improving efficiency or quality.

I think that we all need to be doing exactly what you are talking about - constantly trying to get better at whatever it is that we do.

In order to be proactive and come up with new ideas you have to know what is possible and how it relates to what you do and need. You learn that by looking at what others are doing and by reading about new software capabilities. I suggest reading whatever GIS materials you can find. Read ArcNews when it is mailed out, read the ESRI blogs, follow this site, connect with other GIS professionals locally and on the internet. There's tons of material out there.

Lastly, I suggest setting aside a small amount of time every week specifically for learning/exploring - maybe a couple hours on Friday afternoon when things are slow. That way you can get your primary work done and only research or experiment when you know you've been productive all week.


I am in the same boat that you are in as far as teaching myself how to use the ESRI arc suite. I would spend your spare time learning as many new things as you can about the software as possible. I've always used every new project as a mandatory opportunity to learn/teach myself at least one new thing.

Learn your tools and what you can do with each one for your license level. Know what you will need to make each tool work properly. etc. ArcGIS is a very powerful program capable of doing many different things.

In all honesty, when I started, 95% of the time I had no idea of what I was doing until the project came together.

Kevin is exactly right. Just be proactive with your GIS education and that will eventually produce more productivity in your workplace. As you learn more about the software you will then be able to come up with ideas that may help evolve your projects.

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