Story Cont.

Gail Stafford, Collin College

Meet Gail Stafford. In 1988, when GIS was still called Computer Mapping, Gail helped digitize an entire county. After receiving a dual Bachelors of Geography and Computer Science and 2.5 years experience in GIS, she left the workforce to raise her children. Now that her children are grown, she has returned to Collin College to earn a certificate in Geospatial Information Science in May 2015.

While earning her certificate, Gail utilized NISGTC’s program and services and found employment with North Central Texas Council of Governments as a GIS Intern. There, she conducted online research to update the Development Feature Database for Dallas’ 16-county region.

“Apply to everything and don’t turn down opportunities because the commute is long,” Gail advises fellow students. “Be an excellent student so that you can use your professor for a reference.”

Gail initially was wary of re-entering the job market but received encouragement from Collin College Career Coach Diana Sukut regarding her marketability in the workplace. Since then, she has attended a workshop on LinkedIn, participated in mock interviews and most recently, was a part of a GIS employer visit, which she said was her favorite NISGTC activity so far.

"Apply to everything and don’t turn down opportunities because the commute is long. Be an excellent student so that you can use your professor for a reference."

This past December, Gail was offered a full time position at North Texas Municipal Water District in Wylie, cutting her commute by 2/3. Her new position as Information Systems Assistant utilizes GIS as part of her duties, with part office work and part field work. In addition to her Bachelors of Computer Science, she said it was her GIS experience that caused her application to stand out as well as NISGTC’s program that was “instrumental in the improvement” of her outlook.

“Show your enthusiasm for the field,” says Gail. “Find some way to utilize GIS in your spare time. Employers like that.”