Employee Perspectives

I never expected to work in GIS when I was younger. I thought I was going to do outdoor ecology work after college. I grew up in Wisconsin, just a short drive from Sun Prairie, where I currently live, and studied Biology at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. However, I was given some advice while on a biology field course in Panama that if I wanted to get a job in Biology, I should get certified in GIS too because they want people who can map their own data. I hadn’t heard of GIS before, but the problem-solving and scientific skills involved with GIS work were what I was looking for in a career and I fell in love with it.
I started working at Continental Mapping over three years ago and am constantly collecting new skills – interpersonal, professional, and technical. In my current role as an Airfield Data Quality Control Lead, I’ve learned a lot about how geospatial data keeps air traffic safe and supports mission planning around the world. We build data from all over the globe, including satellite imagery and various other sources, which keeps me on my toes. It’s been a unique and interesting learning curve. Plus, I’ve gotten pretty good at guessing which airfield a country is in just by looking at its name. If it ever comes up in trivia, it’ll be a good skill to have.
The technical challenges such as problem solving and figuring out solutions with ArcMap and our internal tools are rewarding and constantly keeps me on my toes. But my favorite challenges of my role have to do with guiding individual projects: creating documents that explain every aspect of the project, ensuring the team is all on the same page, and tracking progress and information.
I’ve learned so much more than just GIS. It’s the lessons in business etiquette and leadership that I value the most—the things that I’ve picked up from the other leaders here as I’ve gained responsibilities. When I started, I would have been nervous leading meetings, interacting with the clients, and answering questions for subcontractors, but now I feel confident in any setting.
When I started working at Continental Mapping, it was a much smaller company, and even though we’re growing rapidly, I think we succeed in keeping that small company feel. The foosball tournaments, company happy hours, and pet picture slide shows say a lot about our company culture. It’s nice to see that we’re able to maintain the good work we do and still have time for fun, even as more people join the team and our operations expand.
Outside of work, I’m into painting, exercise of almost any kind (except for swimming), and going to garden centers and pretending to know about plants.
GIS and mapping in general has been a fairly large part of my life. In my career, my hobbies, and my service, maps have a place. My career has given me a great background knowledge of how maps are made, why something is on the map, and the reason for how it’s displayed. Anything to do with going outside and enjoying the outdoors – including fishing, hunting, golfing – have a mapping component. In my service with the Army National Guard is when my interest in maps was really sparked through curiosity of how the topographic maps I use were made.
I’m from the St. Louis area and went to school at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I work out of Continental Mapping’s St. Louis office as a Geospatial Analyst/Team Lead. The job is really unique in that I’m able to look a completely different lifestyle and culture than my own on a daily basis. Using satellite imagery we go anywhere from across the country to across the world. I get to deep dive into things – not just cool stuff, but detailed, to see how cities are laid out and how buildings are constructed.
In my career, I get the benefit of seeing all corners of the world, and that means no two days are the same. I am constantly challenged with improving the quality of my data as well as the speed in which I can collect. I constantly have to push the envelope and innovate my own processes. It’s been great to be part of the team in St. Louis. It was a small group who has now grown, and our new office is a great place to work and expand.
As a member of the Army National Guard, we use maps for training all the time. You find yourself in the middle of nowhere and rely on maps for success of the mission. It’s really interesting being on both sides, from being on the end that makes the maps, to being on the end using them, and having that special knowledge of how that map came to be.
I recently got the chance to go speak to students at my alma mater who are interested in careers in the geospatial industry. It was great to give them insight into the next step after school and how to get into the industry. Also to tell the students about what kind of projects they might actually be working on. It was good to pass on that knowledge so they could go home and think about it more and have a better idea what to expect in their career path.
My experience at Continental Mapping has given me some great opportunities to bring together my passion for maps, technology, and love of the outdoors. I’ve learned new technical skills and been given responsibilities on the operations side that I thoroughly enjoy. The company offers opportunities to grow and learn which keeps things exciting.
My love of maps was what sparked my interest in pursuing a degree in Geomatics. In high school, I had the opportunity to ride along on a research vessel on Lake Superior. When the captain laid out a large map of the lake and its water depths, I knew that this was a field that I wanted to pursue. My college senior thesis was mapping Marquette, Michigan’s lakeshore and different ways to best manage it through zoning regulations. I was looking for an opportunity out of college to utilize my experience and give me opportunities to learn more.
At Continental Mapping, I started as a Lidar Data Processor, which was a great addition to my geospatial skillset. Since then, I’ve advanced to a Logistics Coordinator which fully utilizes my organizational skills and provides me with the ability to experience all of the moving parts in the Public Works department. The combination of my previous experiences and skills in GIS, planning, and forestry has given me a solid base of knowledge that I am able to bring to my current role here at Continental Mapping.
I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors. I enjoy hiking, camping, and spending time on the lake. After graduating from Northern Michigan University this past May, I spent two weeks camping my way through the Badlands and the Black Hills, Yellowstone and the Tetons, and Glacier National Park. A fun fact about me is that I am ATV/UTV and chainsaw certified from my work with the Forest Service.
I’ve seen a lot of change over my ten year career at Continental Mapping. I’ve experienced diverse work opportunities, advances in technology, significant company growth, and many great coworkers. Throughout my time I’ve grown my GIS knowledge and become a trusted resource.
I’ve been lucky in the timing with a plethora of opportunities. I’d like to think hopefully I’ve grabbed some of them. The experiences have given me exposure to many of the things we do here and have allowed me to expand my knowledge and understanding and be a better problem solver.
Along the way, I joined survey crews in Kansas, dabbled in photogrammetry, and worked in each sector of the company wherever help was needed. Doing so has given me a good understanding of how everything works, and what everyone’s role is. I enjoy getting to know and work with a group of people with very diverse backgrounds and personalities; but in certain ways, are also quite like-minded.
An excellent Earth Science professor opened my eyes to GIS while attending the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. My entry-level role at Continental Mapping had me providing feature data for the Defense & Intelligence sector. Since then, I’ve seen the company transform and grow, as well as lots of new technology in the industry.
I now serve as a Project Lead for the Defense & Intelligence sector where there is never a dull day. I enjoy the challenge of constantly finding ways to improve upon procedures and methodologies, as well as helping coworkers find solutions to their problems.
Away from work I enjoy boating of all types, but especially sailing. In the winter, which we have plenty of in Wisconsin, I like to downhill ski and join some of my fellow Continental Mapping employees in a recreational hockey league.
From a young age I have always been drawn to maps. Whether it was first seeing the Lewis and Clark Trail map in 3rd grade, or being the family GPS when traveling around the U.S. to sporting events. In high school I took a few CAD classes and was really drawn to the computing power of such a program. After high school I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from Ohio Wesleyan University. From there I continued my education, and obtained my GIS certificate from Penn State to prove my proficiency to future employers.
I have been with Continental Mapping Consultants since January of 2015. Over the last 3 years I have worked on a wide variety of projects that all require a different skill set and knowledge base. This diversity of work is what makes Continental Mapping such a unique place to work. From creating printable flight charts, marking vertical obstructions, updating transportation networks and revising watershed maps.
Every day is a new challenge and an opportunity to learn a new skill. Continental Mapping is at the forefront of innovation and technology, the company is always striving to be an industry leader. Continental Mapping offers opportunities for individuals to grow and really find their niche in the workplace.
When I was in third grade my Dad gave me my first highway map of Wisconsin. It sparked an interest that is still with me to this day. Aside from working with maps, I use maps in my favorite hobby; road biking. I am always planning out new rides and enjoy exploring the Wisconsin countryside.
I obtained my degree in Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Once I graduated, I had a few friends working at Continental Mapping and they informed me how the company was looking to grow. That was two and half years ago and the growth is still ongoing.
The best part about growth are the opportunities that come with it. The staff here at Continental Mapping is always encouraging personal development and growth. One of my favorite parts of working at Continental Mapping are the people and the work environment. The constant support from managers and coworkers becomes contagious which ultimately leads to success. It is exciting to work at a place with such a great future and I am thrilled to be a part of it.