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In their first positions after completing their bachelors’ degrees in geography in 2018, sisters Claire and Paige Girardi are in Sunnyvale, California, helping build and grow Apple’s navigation app.
“Because our work is so confidential, I am not able to explain very much of what we do, but we’re basically analyzing and editing the navigation application Apple Maps,” said Paige.
The sisters completed their degree through ASU Online, working on courses from their home in a small community in California’s Central Valley.
“We found a love for environmental science during our last year at Modesto Junior College,” they said.
They chose to complete their undergraduate degrees through ASU Online because of its fast-paced courses and flexible timing, and chose to major in geography because of its broad scope.
“We were surprised by how engaging and easy to navigate each course was,” they said.
After completing several GIS courses, both sisters decided that they’d like to build more experience in this area and began reaching out to private companies and local governments in nearby communities. The City of Hughson was working to build a GIS to help manage its utilities, and welcomed the sisters’ willingness to go into the field to accurately map the location and characteristics of the community’s fire hydrants, water valves, storm drains and other key infrastructure.
Since the City of Hughson had no employees with GIS expertise, the sisters took it on themselves to master the survey data collection software, and by the end of their 15-week internship had exceeded the city’s expectations, both in how much they mapped and the work that they did in managing the data they had collected.
“Geography is such a vast subject that finding a focus is helpful. Interning is a great way to do this as it allows you to experience the reality of what a particular job is like,” said Claire.
Now working as GIS Technician contractors for Apple, they see themselves as continuing to learn.
“Interning while attending college and working after graduation has given us a more well-rounded understanding of what a GIS Technician does.”
Both sisters plan to build on the foundation of their undergraduate degrees and professional experience by continuing their education – with Paige targeting a career in forestry and Claire in plant science. Both of their prospective fields also utilize GIS, allowing the sisters to apply their mapping skills to realms that brought them originally to study geography.