A Competitive Edge

       It’s that time of year when college seniors around the country are scrambling to fill out graduate school applications and secure jobs post-graduation this spring. Many are becoming desperate in their search in an economy where few jobs are available for the hundreds of thousands graduating this year. Mariah Perkins ’13 doesn’t have to worry about any of those factors, thanks to her experience with WC GIS.

An anthropology major from Frederick, Md., Perkins will graduate with diploma and job offer in hand. As a leading intern in the lab since freshman year, she completed a summer internship with technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and returned to campus with assurances that a full-time position would await her following graduation in May. Stew Bruce’s connection to Booz Allen Hamilton principal Susan Kalweit, who serves with him on the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation Academic Advisory Board, helped Perkins land the internship.

     With Booz Allen Hamilton, she contributed to an NGA project developing a GIS training module for land tenure in Africa, with Ghana as a case study.

She was a team member on several exciting projects and during her time there she learned a lot about the importance of consulting. A member of a team of interns that participated in the Cyber Cohort Competition, her team was placed as one of the three finalists and presented their work to Mike McConnell, the former Director of National Intelligence. “The internship provided many opportunities to step outside my comfort zone, including obtaining certification in Security+ and presenting in front of leading partners of the firm,” said Perkins.

In recognition of her GIS work, Perkins has also earned a prestigious $5,000 undergraduate scholarship from the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. Scholarship awards are annually given to promising students studying or planning to study geospatial intelligence related fields.

“The internship was a long interview process. After demonstrating our abilities, work ethic, and success in the Cyber Cohort Competition, Sue Kalweit offered employment with the firm upon graduation. I feel quite fortunate and grateful. It is a great relief to go into my senior year knowing I have a job when I graduate, especially during this challenging time for college graduates,” said Perkins.

Mariah Perkins is just one of WC GIS interns who have proven the effectiveness of the GIS lab in supplying students with the independent skills to give them a competitive edge in today’s job market.

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