Last spring, UW geography major Kevin Ho was nearing the end of his program when he says he “was casually checking out HuskyJobs with no real intent of applying for any internships/jobs when I stumbled upon this internship at King County Parks.” Now a GIS Asset Management Intern at King County, Parks Division, Kevin shares with us his reflections on the experience so far (spoiler alert: he’s enjoying it!).
A “day-in-the-life”: One of my essential duties is field work/data collection of park assets. When I’m out in the field, I’ll typically be at a park, trail, or natural area all day to inventory/geospatial reference assets using the ArcGIS collector app and county-provided phones. I record an asset’s location (lat long), description, measurements (if applicable), and images. Assets that I collect information on include lighting, furnishings/amenities, parking lots, fields, buildings, and ball courts. The other essential duty is utility mapping. Although utilities generally can’t be seen (water, electrical, irrigation, and sewer lines), they are essential aspects to the functioning of a park. My task then is to look through record drawings of past capital improvement projects and accurately represent the location of those utilities on ArcMap.
Connections with coursework: Through my coursework in geography, I understand that maps are an abstraction of the world and are imbued with the biases, perspectives, and motives of the mapmaker. Moreover, they seek to make a proposition about the world. What is included in a map is just as important as what is left out. Because of this, I must always remain mindful of the impact and social consequences of any map that I produce.
Advice for others: Always keep an eye out and check regularly for opportunities, even if you aren’t looking for something in the near future. Also, take advantage of the available resources on campus (Career & Internship Center, Career Fairs, professors/staff members, Handshake etc.). For public sector work in the Seattle area, a good place to start would be the employment center websites of City of Seattle, Port of Seattle, and King County.
What’s next? Since I work with Capital Project Managers and the Capital Improvement Projects Team, I am particularly interested in learning more about GIS decision support for capital project implementation.