Jeff Judycki was working as a wetland ecologist when he wanted to expand his knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS), which he began using to perform his daily management activities.
“I saw an opportunity in GIS technology and was gaining experience on my own, yet I still struggled,” he said. “My industry was feeling the housing market crash, my company had laid off over half of its employees and wages were being cut. I decided I required some technical training to make a leap and sought out a program that would work with my schedule and budget. The GIS certificate program at College of DuPage worked within these parameters.”
After his second semester in the program, Judycki was able to make a career change as a GIS technician for a company that consulted in the oil and gas sector.
“It was a difficult transition, but the training I was receiving at the time helped immensely. I was able to directly apply my learnings in my new career,” he said. “In addition, the instructor himself was a professional in GIS, and he was able to provide mentoring as I transitioned my career.”
As he finished the GIS certificate at COD, he realized that he should obtain a professional certification through the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI). Judycki was successful in doing so, having been well-prepared by his coursework at COD.
After working as a consultant for five years, he secured a position at bp Americas and currently is a GIS administrator for U.S. pipelines and logistics.
“I was so excited that my hard work and leap of faith paid off,” he said. “I love my new career and have COD to thank for the technical training within the field of GIS. As my company changes to an integrated energy company, I would like to again work through a transition and start to apply my experience and training to renewable energy.”
His advice to prospective students is to find ways to apply what they learn to their professional or personal lives.
“This is a conscious act of immersing yourself in the GIS training,” he said. “You may not have a clear need but with some creativity and the technical know-how, you can start to get really excited about the study of GIS. Think of your current day-to-day activities and how geography interacts with your decisions. Look for things that deal with location within your community, business or even children’s programs. These systems all participate in a geography, and with GIS you can aid in making decisions on how community leaders and decision makers interact with it.
“The program at College of DuPage will empower you with the technical skills. Your requirement will be applying these skills to solve problems, and that is how you will define your value. I was able to apply these hard skills directly to a new career in GIS.”