The project MY GEO (Geo Tools for Modernization and Youth Employment) is a project funded by the European Commission through its Erasmus+ Programme whose main objective is fostering the employability of students in higher education through promoting the acquisition of key skills related to the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools.
In the development of the project, international mobility of students from each partner University to each partner company is very important as it is conceived to empower participants on the use of GIS tools, in real-work environments.
However, this second mobility cycle has been modified by COVID-19 pandemic and its immediate consequences. With borders closed and people at GEOSLAB on smart working, how it would be possible to carry out the traineeship?
It has been necessary to adapt to the new circumstances and try to offer students a kind of real work experience, but online. Communication tools and Internet have facilitated a lot the task, but the right attitude both on the side of the students and on the company is being absolutely determinant to go forward and guarantee traineeship success. Evaluation during and at the end of the process will help us to improve and do it better in the future.
Now, let me introduce the authentic protagonist of this story: Alice Morandi and Matilde Grezzani, students from Master’s in GIScience and Unmanned Systems (University of Padua). They will share with us their experience.
Tell us about your work at GEOSLAB. What are you doing?
Both: Two have been the main activities we carried out during the internship. Each of us has been "the head" of a project, but we worked on both together. One project was the georeferencing of historical maps, dating back to the 18th century of the Aragon region, and the other was the creation and geo-codification of a database on agricultural cooperatives in Spain.
How do you think this traineeship will contribute on your learning process?
A.M.: This internship is giving me the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills acquired during the advanced master's degree in GIS, allowing me to consolidate them definitively. Thanks to the project of historical maps I became very familiar with Qgis and its georeferencing tools. While the creation of the database on agricultural cooperatives, being a quite repetitive and long work, pushed me strongly to experiment all those database management tools that could automate and speed up the work.
In both cases, the upload of the final results on Geoserver and their free and open visualization by web or mobile visors, allowed us to close the cycle and explore all phases of the project.
M.G.: Although the circumstances forced us to do the traineeship online, I am very enthusiastic about the work that I had the possibility to do at the GeosLab company.
The GeosLab’s staff entrusts me interesting and stimulating projects and facing new problems gave me the possibility to enrich my school heritage and increase my professional experience. In fact, during this period I had the possibility to improve my skills and learn how to use important programs. I would like to go on with my studies about the Geographical Information Systems and this traineeship gave me the possibility to find out and study its various practices. I think it’s very important to do in practice what you have studied and it definitely helps to get an idea about a future job too.
How do you feel on this smart working traineeship? Do you find it hard to catch up with the assignments without presential support?
A.M.: It has been very strange to have to work miles away with people I've never met before. At first, I was a bit worried that in smart working the internship might be much less useful and productive than I had hoped. In reality GeosLab faced the situation with great confidence, organizing meticulously our work, our tasks and facilitating in every way the contact within the company.
Surely being physically there, working side by side would have been a fuller experience. Not only because I would have seen and lived Zaragoza, but above all I could have had a clearer idea of the activities carried out by Geoslab. However, I believe that our telematic internship experience has been a success and can be taken as an example and inspiration.
M.G.: The presential support would clearly have helped to solve faster that problems a student can bump into, but thanks to the willingness of all GeosLab’s members, to communication tools and internet I am thrilled to be able to say that I managed to catch up with the assignments without too many difficulties. We all know very well all those little and essential things we normally need to live to the best an interesting project such MyGeo. The human relationships and the presential support that we should have lived moving to Zaragoza for two months would of course have been much more exciting and satisfying. In the end, but not for importance, it would have been a great pleasure to meet up with Susana Javier and all the friendly and nice persons of GeosLab’s staff.
Finally, we want to thank Alice and Matilde for their commitment and professionalism. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to meet in person in next future.