There and Back Again, a Work’s Experience Tale @thinkWhere by Joshua Fawcett

Ever since I was a child I have been amazed by the wonders of maps. When I was small reading the hobbit I was more intrigued with where the characters were on the map then the actual story. I love how maps can so clearly give you an idea of a place without you never visiting it. This passion has developed since then moving away from story books and on to more advanced maps and the future of the mapping world, Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The GIS world has allowed me to explore the amazing ways in which data can be displayed in map form. Leading me to exploring mapping further by studying a BSc Geography degree at University College London to further explore my passion for GIS. So, when the opportunity to do a week’s placement at one of the UK’s leading GIS mapping companies came up it was one which I could not turn down.

Me (Josh Fawcett) with thinkWhere Logo

The first day at the company I was welcomed into the Agile way of working with the 10am daily stand-up ceremony. This was my first ever exposure to the Agile way of working a method of working that is used by many tech companies moving away from the more traditional waterfall method of working. The agile way of working essentially follows the holy Agile Manifesto.

 agile manifesto

Agile Manifesto

During my time at thinkWhere I was allowed to see the inner workings of the business attending various events. As I had joined the team mid-way through a sprint (a 2-week period of work) I was able to get an insight into the Operation Team Backlog Refinement meeting. This is where the team decides together how long each story (task) will take by putting forward a rating of the difficulty of the task rather than giving it a set length of time. Furthermore, I was given my own stories to complete and progress them along the four sections from to-do all the way to done (see image below). This type of management and progress checking is one which I will apply to other large-scale group projects that I will do in the future.

Jira Dashboard Active Sprint Tacker

Alongside observing the various ceremonies at thinkWhere I was allowed the opportunity to speak to the amazingly kind and friendly employees. The team at thinkWhere are from diverse backgrounds allowing me to gain an invaluable insight into the true working of a company that deals with GIS is like in the commercial world. Allowing me to see GIS outside of the academic sphere and in the practical and commercial sector the real world will be beneficial in my future career. Getting the opportunity to present at the valentine’s edition of the companies monthly Meet and Eat was an amazing opportunity to present outside of a university environment. Discussing the work I completed over the summer mapping Biodiversity Opportunity areas for the Tees Valley Area was a true confidence builder. During this session I got the chance to listen to an interesting piece of work about ‘MapAction’ learning how GIS is applied to humanitarian crisis situations around the world.

Presenting at Meet and Eat

While doing my placement I was given the opportunity to attend a course about the basic introduction to PostGIS. During this daylong session I learnt how to load and manage spatial database something which I have never done before and aim to explore further in the future. Furthermore, following the advice given I have expanded upon my python and other coding skills learning the coding languages that are essential for the development of the Open Source GIS systems.

PostGIS User Training Certificate

Just like Bilbo Baggins on his journey I too have learnt a lot and overall I have gained an experience which is invaluable. I have learnt things from my weeks’ worth of experience that will stay with me forever. Helping me greatly in later life to develop my career path giving me inside knowledge about the workings of the GIS systems. Whilst also giving me advice and tips on how I can improve my CV and help to further enhance my career opportunities.

My gratitude and thanks goes to all the team at thinkWhere who has made my time here unforgettable and thank you for making me feel so welcomed.

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