Personal Statement:

My boss affectionately introduces me as “Andrew, our rare breed of computer geek and outdoor guru.” While it is an odd combination, I have always found my personal and professional interests to fall in the realms of both technology and the natural world. I grew up writing computer programs with my uncle and paddling in the Boundary Waters with my dad. Long before Flickr, I would write HTML by hand in order to share pictures of our outdoor pursuits with family and friends online. Now I lead groups on canoe, kayak, and safari adventures when I’m not designing databases or websites. After finishing a computer science degree at the University of Minnesota, I spent my last semester abroad completing a leadership course in the wilderness of Kenya. Through these experiences I learned the analytical skills necessary to solve problems with both a keyboard and mouse, and a map and compass.

I was not sure how I would combine these two passions into a career until I found Wilderness Inquiry, a non-profit organization that seeks to provide access to the outdoors for all. Over the last nine years, I rose from leading canoe and kayak trips to my current position of Program & Technology Director. I have done everything from designing a massive database driven website, to developing successful travel programs in Kenya and Tanzania, to training and supervising up to 50 seasonal trail staff each year. I am most proud of developing and maintaining a relational database of more than 124 tables, thousands of fields, and an intuitive graphical user interface that co-workers use to manage all their daily operations whether it be for contacts, events, registrations, donations, equipment inventory, or finances.

In the field and in the office, I have discovered what it means to be a leader. My work experience has taught me how to manage risks and reduce costs while delivering high quality outcomes. I effectively lead diverse groups of people in challenging environments such as frigid Lake Superior, high alpine Mt. Kilimanjaro, and our often chaotic office of 10 full-time staff members who fund-raise for and run programs which serve more than 15,000 people annually. I excel at changing my leadership style to meet people’s needs and effectively accomplish tasks. At my job, I derive the most satisfaction when a coworker comes to me with a question and I am able to use technology to solve the problem and enhance productivity. I hope to someday be rewarded with that same satisfaction while collaborating with a research team or conservation effort.

While studying GIS at the University of Minnesota I aspire to become a better computer programmer and learn to create visual solutions to help solve real-world problems. There are three components of GIS that are of utmost interest to me: remote sensing, spatial databases, and applications development. Efficient and effective database design is my favorite challenge. Big picture, my career aspirations are to develop cost-effective ways for people to turn their data into information they can visualize and understand in spatial context, and use to make decisions. I am naturally a generalist who thrives on solving all types of problems with one caveat–I am more interested in making the world a better place than profiting. In other words I see myself working with or as a consultant for small non-profit or government organizations instead of large commercial companies. I’m intrigued by the entire process of building a GI System from data collection to storage to user-interface design to producing end-user maps and thus don’t want to specialize in just one part. “GIS Consultant” or “GIS Applications Developer” would be two job titles I’d like to have on my business card.

Next >>