Survey Technician for Public Safety & Security Solutions
I grew up all over Southern California. I spent 4 years in Australia as a kid, but we eventually found our way back to California. There, my dad would take me to work with him, and I would be his navigator. I learned how to use the Thomas Brothers Maps. We didn’t have Google Maps back in the 80’s! I loved looking at the map and figuring out the routes to navigate us around Los Angeles and Orange County. When I was hired by TSG (now part of Continental Mapping), I was excited to learn about mapping technology and was amazed to see how far it had progressed over the years.
I went to California State University San Marcos and majored in Social Sciences with a double minor in History and Political Science. After exploring an education career path, I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue. Fast forward to working for TSG. I had no background in mapping or computers, but I got in the door and just soaked up everything I could and learned on the fly. Now 16 years later, I have learned so many skills all from this job.
Currently I am part of a team of six at TSG. We travel to locations around the world to collect data and imagery and bring it back to headquarters to process.
Our daily tasks change constantly depending on the progress of each project. We generally have 5-10 projects we are working on simultaneously. Common tasks include updating our map layers and data to match the latest field collections. Additionally, we perform quality control for data, photography, and mapping standards. We all take pride in our work and feel accomplished when we wrap up each project.
Travel is by far the best part of this job. I have been fortunate enough to explore over a dozen countries and 30 US states for work. My coworkers and I get to experience these adventures together and being around people you enjoy adds to the experience. I also enjoy our office work environment. Our management team hosts luncheons, raffles, and holiday parties from time to time to show their appreciation of all the hard work we put in.
Since starting this career, I have developed a knowledge base for a variety of computer programs. I have been challenged many times over the years as we have progressed and added new technology to our program. Learning how to use these tools and troubleshoot problems has been challenging but rewarding. I never thought I would be working behind a computer for a job, but I am thankful I decided to take on this role. All the friendships, travel experiences, and knowledge I have attained is such a blessing.
Outside of work, my passion is bodyboarding and the ocean. I used to compete in bodyboarding contests put on by local surf shops, but never anything beyond that. I love soccer, baseball, football and snowboarding as well. Since my wakeboarding injury I have had to scale back on all that, but I still get out in the water in the summer and watch all types of sports.
I fell into the GIS field when I entered the workforce. After majoring in Legal Studies and History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I started working at City Hall in Sun Prairie. While shadowing city inspectors, clerks, assessors, and planners, I discovered that the coolest part of the job was the GIS stuff. They used ArcMap and GIS software to plan and keep information-laden maps about the city. I thought the software was really exciting, and saw it had a ton of potential uses, not only for city government, but state and national governments as well. After getting to experiment with ArcMap occasionally, I was hooked. Being introduced to GIS through these interactions piqued my interest and ultimately became the bridge to a new career path.
When I saw the job opening at Continental Mapping to work with GIS software in a larger capacity, I took the opportunity. I started as an LTE Technician back in August of 2018. I was hired full time the next March and became a Geospatial Analyst I in the fall of 2019.
What I love about Continental Mapping is the diversity and flexibility of the work. I enjoy switching from project to project. Not only does learning a new project help keep things fresh, but every time I reacquaint myself with a project or process I’ve done in the past, I learn new techniques and tricks that make me more efficient at production of all kinds. Throughout these past two years, I’ve worked on everything from topographic to hyperlocal mapping, but my favorite role so far is in content management.
I also really enjoy the people I work with. As a young and growing company, many of the people I started with are still here. We have grown together as employees and people over the past two years. I also like knowing that the work we do in the defense and intelligence space could be vital to people on missions overseas. It is definitely a feeling of purpose.
The most important thing I’ve learned professionally, outside of the specifics of GIS software, is that becoming a jack of all trades is as beneficial to you as it is to the company as a whole. By constantly learning new things, I’m able to help where I’m needed most. I always strive to keep learning and to not box myself in as a specialist who can only do one task or one type of project.
Outside of work, I enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, and skiing in the winter. Also, I love playing basketball (when contact sports can return post-COVID-19).
Geospatial Analyst II Lead
I took an online course with ESRI recently, and it described cartography in a way that I think encompasses why I love maps and map making so much. In the course, ESRI Cartographer John Nelson said “Cartography is the communication of a geographic phenomenon, the visual communication… it’s this beautiful mix of geography, which is already awesome, and art, which is already awesome. And then you get awesome plus awesome and it’s just cartography”.
When I was little, I used to always be the (self-appointed) navigator on our family road trips. When I was in college, Intro to GIS was an elective I could take over the summer, and I fell in love with it as soon as we got our first assignment. Being able to take a situation/conflict or a data set and represent it visually, so that everyone can understand and interpret it was fascinating, and I immediately wanted to learn more. When I first started on the cartography team here at Continental Mapping, I knew I’d found my calling.
I majored in International Affairs with concentrations in Conflict Resolution and Europe/Eurasia at the George Washington University, and minored in Geographic Information Sciences (GIS). In some of my classes I was able to contribute to crowd sourced projects, such as Open Street Map, which we currently use as an ancillary source in mapping projects across the globe.
I had back to back internships at The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) which truly introduced me to how GIS can actively be used in the intelligence/national security fields. While I held a few other internships while in college, I truly enjoyed my time at START because it allowed me to combine my love for international politics with the mapping career I wanted to develop.
I am currently a Geospatial Analyst II – Lead at Continental Mapping and focused on high end cartographic production in support of the Department of Defense.
I’ve learned a lot in the past two years here at Continental Mapping. With practical experience with software and applied cartographic knowledge, I’ve learned exponentially more in these 2 years than I ever could have dreamed of. That doesn’t mean I don’t still Google things; I still do that quite often.
I also think I’ve developed quite a bit professionally. I’ve held a few different managerial roles that helped me cultivate my communication skills and have taught me quite a bit about customer relations. Even on a broader level, I’ve found that as a woman in this field (really any field), you have to be comfortable self-advocating. I like talking, but I don’t necessarily like talking about myself. You must be comfortable putting yourself out there and taking on more responsibility, even if you are not asked to. I have been lucky to have some strong female managers here at Continental Mapping who have not only been amazing mentors but have given me the opportunity for more responsibility and room to grow into this career.
I have been able to develop a good network of women in the GIS profession both in St. Louis and nationally. Last summer, Continental Mapping sent me and a fellow employee to the Women in GIS conference in St. Louis. It was amazing to be in a room of strong career minded women, who have shared in my experiences in this field. I made a promise to myself to come back from that conference and take a more active role in the development of our female employees, and making sure they have the same opportunities that I had when first starting at Continental Mapping.
Outside of Continental Mapping, I love baking. Before Covid-19, I used to make monthly birthday/holiday cookies of cakes for the St. Louis office. I’m currently trying out a bunch of different desserts while working from home.
As a kid, I ruined every map I got my hands on. From schoolbooks to anything at home, I would draw my own borders, with my own imaginative roads and rivers. When I got older, I didn’t realize I could have a career relating to this early passion.
For my first two years of college at Temple University in Philadelphia, I was flirting with a lot of programs and nothing really stuck. At one point I was between marketing and horticulture and, I accidentally enrolled in a class called Digital Mapping, which taught very intro GIS skills. To my surprise, that course defined the rest of my life. Something about it just “clicked” immediately for me. Every new GIS/mapping class I took after made me more and more fascinated with the skills I could learn, the projects I got to be part of, and the work of my peers. I loved the technology and process of making a map, but also love the power that a map has and its ability to define a place and what makes it special.
While I was university, I had the privilege to intern and work with local non-profits in the city bringing GIS skills to find solutions and data to help with projects in unexpected ways. I was working for a local group setting up small community gardens, and I was able to use GIS skills and data to help locate abandoned lots in the city that could serve as potential project sites. GIS data also helped us assess garden accessibility, community need/stakeholders, and any preexisting structures.
After graduating Temple University with a Major in Geography, I found Continental Mapping in early 2020 and started working as a Geospatial Technician at the St. Louis office. My role as a geospatial technician is super cool because every day I have the opportunity to learn a new skill or sharpen an old one. I get to be challenged, grow, and learn while I have a support system behind me to ensure my success. I’ve had opportunities to use new technology to ensure the success of hyper local data collection, data scaling, data exporting and management.
I am immensely proud of my growth here at Continental Mapping; I haven’t been here too long, but I can say that I have become incredibly focused on learning new skills. In school, I spent so much time being the one “map guy”, and now that I am surrounded by people with similar backgrounds. I’m always blown away by the collective knowledge we have here and how many people are willing to help out and share that information with me.
Outside of work, I enjoy a variety of hobbies. I have always loved biking, in Philadelphia or St. Louis, and I love exploring the city, finding new little parks or whatever that I would otherwise never see. I am also an avid reader and cannot wait for my movie theater to open back up to experience the big screen again.
I don’t remember an age in my life that I wasn’t looking at a map. I grew up flying planes with my grandpa looking at aviation charts and climbing mountains with my grandma who was a geologist, looking at topography maps. I don’t think I could escape mapping if I tried.
After studying Environmental Science at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, I returned home and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin GIS Certificate program. In 2018, after earning my GIS certificate, I found Continental Mapping and started my work as a Geospatial Analyst.
Over the past two years, I’ve had an ever-evolving role and currently I work as an Extraction Lead for the Airfield Delineation Project, where I work on projects to help keep air traffic safe and support mission planning around the globe. As an Extraction Lead, I get to work with and alongside the core of almost every project: the analysts who extract real world data that eventually become real world maps.
Finding solutions to systematic problems is something I enjoy thinking about. I like to “get in the weeds” while working through a problem so I can see it from all angles. GIS and mapping provides plenty of angles from which to view the issues and I can determine attainable solutions that are fun to hash out.
The challenge, however, is finding my way back “out of the weeds” so to speak. In my role at Continental Mapping, I get plenty of practice with figuring out a solution, packaging that idea effectively, and communicating it properly down the right channels. Navigating the best path for the idea to come to fruition is extremely rewarding and has become one of my favorite things about this job.
Another aspect that I love about Continental Mapping and working in Sun Prairie is the mapping and GIS community in the area. There’s a tight-knit group of people in the surrounding area that are just as passionate about mapping and GIS as me. Everyone knows everyone, and we all sort of overlap in our creative and professional endeavors. It really inspires me that Continental Mapping was founded by two Madison locals, David Hart and Chris Gross, who were and are a part of this community. It’s nice knowing that this company’s foundation is built upon people who love mapping. That passion radiates throughout Continental Mapping and makes every day special.
Outside of work and aside from my own mapping hobby, I enjoy a wide variety of activities. Some consistent ones are drumming, mushroom hunting with my partner and our dog Compass, and hanging out with my family on our farm.
Marketing Creative Specialist
My journey into marketing for the geospatial industry has been interesting. I started working at Continental Mapping a week before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. I had to learn a whole new industry from scratch while working remote. However, I’ve learned that marketing and graphic design for GIS and mapping is exciting because it challenges me to be creative in ways I’ve never experienced before.
I was born and raised in northern Wisconsin, and it was always my dream to go to school at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. After years of hard work and three ACT tests, my dream came true, and I graduated with a degree in Communication Arts and Media Studies. After a yearlong event marketing internship at a cybersecurity education company, I decided I wanted to do something more creative and something that mirrored what I learned at university. I found Continental Mapping, and though I knew absolutely nothing about the mapping and GIS world, I felt it would push my creativity and marketing skills.
Working from home as a Marketing Creative Specialist in a new industry, in my first marketing position out of college did give me a bit of anxiety. However, once I started learning the industry, figuring out the markets, terms, and technology, like what lidar is, and seeing how geospatial data can positively impact all of our lives, I was committed to making content that expresses how impactful this industry really is.
My favorite part of this position is the diversity of creative work. No two days are the same. I get to flex my graphic design skills by creating enticing social media content and images one day, and the next day I get to pursue my other passion of writing by composing a blog post. In creating these designs and projects, I have learned so much about the industry, expanded my skill set, and grasp my own creative output as well. Whether it’s an elaborate, visually striking video, a small internal office signage request, or a proposal graphic that plays a small part in helping win a contract, I love getting to be creative in my career.
Outside of work, I love going to concerts (pre-pandemic), trying new coffee spots, doing film photography, and exploring nature in Wisconsin and beyond.
AFD Quality Control Lead
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.
Geospatial Analyst/Team Lead
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.
Project Lead – Defense & Intelligence
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.
Geospatial Analyst II
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.