Having a look into geodata
Stefanie Steffens - RheinEnergie AG
In 2012, I started studying Georesources Management in Aachen. I enjoyed the topics addressed and especially GIS, but I had the feeling that something was missing. After a visit to the student advisory service, I then switched to the Applied Geography degree programme. Here I was able to further expand my focus on GIS and remote sensing and discovered the subject that serves as an additional mainstay for me: quality and environmental management according to ISO standards. Furthermore, I had seen with other, former fellow students that their job entry was made difficult mainly by a lack of knowledge in the area of (geo)databases and computer science. Therefore, I decided to take further courses in this area. Towards the end of my studies, I acquired another topic for my Master's thesis: Smart City and IoT in combination with GIS.
Thanks to the usual financial scarcity for students, I completed numerous part-time jobs and internships alongside my studies. In some cases, I worked up to 20 hours a week on the side and later got formative positions as a working student for quality management at the Fraunhofer IPT and P3/Umlaut as a result of these experiences. Here I learned that practical experience is the be-all and end-all of any degree programme. Sometimes, especially as a geographer, it is important to look for a job outside of your degree programme, as long as your other qualifications fit. Geographers are generalists and are therefore welcome as interdisciplinarians in many different fields.
When it came to the topic of job hunting, the latter was particularly helpful to me: I had applied, independently, for several jobs in GIS and quality management, including at RheinEnergie AG in Cologne. Here the head of network documentation called me, they had forwarded my application (originally QM) to him and he wanted to invite me for an interview. That's how I got to know my current employer and started working here as a trainee. The geoinformation systems in an EVU (energy supply company) have different requirements than the systems I knew from geography. That's how I got to know Smallworld GIS and the ultimate tool that would have saved me a lot of frustration and time during my studies with GIS: FME. With FME, you can edit geodata and databases from different sources without having to programme and without having to master umpteen different programmes.
At the end of my trainee period, I switched to the water division of RheinEnergie. Here, my knowledge of geology, engineering and hydrogeology, agriculture/soil science and environmental law come in handy again. A circle closes for me here. I am also the coordinator for quality, information security and environmental management issues according to ISO standards. In my function, I am therefore not only responsible for the creation of new maps and the maintenance of geodata, but I also take care of the administration of existing and the integration of new geoinformation systems. What's particularly good about my job is its versatility: you don't just work in the office, but also get out and learn a lot about water law, water supply and the function of waterworks, and deal with future challenges such as digitalisation and sustainability.