Mapping a Path
to Success: MC Students, Alums Find Their Place In Applied Geography
Siddharth Mathur is a map guy. Ever since he was little, Mathur loved studying maps: street maps, historical maps, aeronautical charts, any type of map. His fascination with maps led him to the applied geography program at Montgomery College, and ultimately to an associate’s degree in applied geography and geographic information systems (GIS).
His parents and family were puzzled. They could understand his desire to be an aeronautical engineer...or a doctor. But a cartographer? Yes, cartographer. According to Mathur, who lives in Gaithersburg, “People who have a natural curiosity about maps...people who are curious about spatial relationships” should consider careers related to geography and cartography.
You can make a specialized career in so many areas,” he said. Professor Tanya Allison, coordinator of the applied geography program, keeps her finger firmly on the pulse of the industry. As a result of her extensive contacts, MC students have the opportunity to intern at federal, state, and local governments, as well as private firms. Allison says that when organizations need an intern, MC is often the first place they call. “One of the most difficult tasks we have is trying to fill everyone’s request.” Interns gain experience—and often full-time employment—through such places as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the City of Rockville, the National Park Service’s Cartographic Division, Montgomery County, and the Library of Congress’ Geography and Map Division, to name a few. Marthur says the solid foundation he received at MC enabled him to transfer to the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), where he received a bachelor’s degree in geography while working at Earthdata International. Today, Marthur is a senior consultant serving as an emergency management planner/GIS analyst with Booz Allen Hamilton, a U.S.-based international management and technology consulting firm in McLean. He supports the U.S. Department of Labor’s Emergency Management Center with strategic and tactical elements of emergency response/recovery operations using his geospatial analysis background.
Exciting Career Options
The applied geography program is so successful, in fact, that many community colleges throughout the U.S. are modeling their programs after MC’s. According to Allison, “you can get the A.A.S. and go to work immediately. If you are trained in GIS, you can do very well.”