Want to work on cutting-edge technology, collaborate with cool people, make lots of moolah, travel to interesting places, solve important problems and make an actual impact?

Hey!  I’m Rachel, Creator of Geopivot.  This is one of our featured Advice Bytes.  Read on if you want to enjoy an amazing GIS career…

So you’re probably wondering, “How does she know the secrets for success“?  Good question.  I definitely didn’t know them when I got started 15 years ago.  I learned them the hard way.  Through messing up, trial and error and spending time with super successful people.

Over time I built an awesome career. I moved from an entry-level position to executive management and got paid over six-figures to work on sweet projects.  I got to teach GIS in tons of different countries and work for some of the best GIS organizations in the world.  If you want to make your geo-dreams come true, you need to follow the rules too.

So go grab a cup of coffee and hunker down.  This is important and you need to spend some time here.  I’ll wait for you.  Alright, are you back and caffeinated?  This is how it works – first I’m going to tell you the Secrets for Success, then I’ll explain what I mean, and finally I’ll show you how to actually start doing them today.



Be Relentlessly Curious

Dream Big, Start Small

Be Super Helpful

Do What Scares You

Embrace Lameness

Don’t Be a Loner

Reproject Yourself

Always Give Back

Create Opportunities

Ask for What You Want

Pay For Credibility

Be Easy to Find Online

This is the fun part!  Spend time tinkering with tools, browsing blogs and watching how-to videos.  Teach yourself new tricks.  Your company probably isn’t going to pay you to do this.  Do it anyway on your own time.

To have a realistic dream, you need to know what’s possible.  Figure out what makes you come alive.  Map out the steps to make it happen.  Find role models to inspire you and mentors to show you the way.

This one is awesome!  You win, they win.  Go out of your way to solve problems for people.  Make their life easier and your life will get easier too.

Fear is one of the best indicators of what you really want to do.  If you are shaking in your shoes, take note of the clues.  I hid in the bathroom at an event and literally couldn’t speak right before I created my best memories.

Nobody likes to copy and paste data. It sucks. So do a lot of things you have to do at work. Learn to love boring tasks. Why?  Because people like to work with happy people.  Do you want to work with a complainer?

I took me 5 years to figure this gem out.  If you want to be successful, you need to spend time with other successful people.  You aren’t going to meet them hiding at your desk.  So get out there and start attending GIS events!

You need to be around people and places with possibilities.  You might need to relocate to a GIS hotspot (I moved to Redlands to be near Esri & then to Los Angeles).  Do whatever it takes to get in on the action.

If you only do one thing from this list, do this!  The best way to create momentum in your career is to start contributing.  It’s also a great way to unlock opportunities.  Write an article, give a presentation, volunteer…

Most of the cool things I’ve done in my career were my idea.  No one asked me to do them.  I did my homework, pitched my ideas to decision makers and they said yes.  This includes raises and promotions.

I know this is obvious, but lots of people don’t actually do it.  If you are waiting for someone to approach you with opportunities, you are going to have a lame career.  Period.   Learn how to present ideas and negotiate.

Cool stuff usually costs money.  There are lots of zeros in the amount I’ve spent to build credibility.  Pay for credentials, continuing education classes, hands-on learning and leadership training.

Are you on Linked In?  Do you have a professional website or online portfolio?  No?  Then I’ve probably never heard of you.  Neither have any cool GIS companies.  Seriously, you need to do this right now 😉


Congratulations!  Now you’re an expert in what it takes to create a successful GIS career.  So what?  Who cares if you don’t actually DO SOMETHING about it?  Well you’re in luck, because there are 3 easy ways you can get started right now. Woohoo!

But why am I recommended these specific next steps?  I know that you won’t magically know HOW to apply most of these secrets to your own career.  Explore the options below to access Geopivot’s career building tools, online classes and inspirational stories.




Explore our free class previews to see if they are right for you.


See a quick description of all of our career resources.


Get inspired with more of our Open Mic stories.