GIS is a tool that can contribute to a brighter future

Interview with Viktor Bozev, “GIS and Database” intern at Esri Bulgaria.
Viktor Bozev is a fourth-year student at SU “Kl. Ohridski”, in the “Geospatial Systems and Technologies” specialty. He was drawn to GIS by his childhood curiosity about the world and maps, as well as the in-depth study of mathematics and geography during his school years. Today, Victor has ambitions for a successful career, with which he can be useful to society.


How did your interest in geography and GIS come about?

As a child I was very interested in maps, I loved looking at atlases. I was curious to explore different places on the map – where the countries are, what their flags are… And when I started studying geography at school, I discovered that it was a hobby of mine that I wanted to turn into something more serious.

I went to competitions and olympiads, I was very enthusiastic and even finished second at the National Geography Olympiad in 2014 in Yambol. I was in seventh grade then. I completed my secondary education at the National Gymnasium of Natural Sciences and Mathematics “Academic Lyubomir Chakalov”, profile Geography with English.

My first introduction to GIS actually took place in this high school. There were organized meetings with former students of NGNSM from whom we learned about what Geographic Information Systems are. They presented them as something interesting that we could concentrate on even before we graduated from high school. What I saw then in GIS is that they are not just dry theory, but have a strong practical application, and I became interested.

How long have you been working with ArcGIS and what are your impressions?

I started working with ArcGIS at Sofia University. The lecturers showed us the basic capabilities of the software, which we then upgraded and used in various tasks as part of our studies. The results exceeded my expectations. I realized that I would like to continue working in this direction after graduating from university.

What I like is that ArcGIS has rich and interesting features in every individual application. With ArcGIS Field Maps, for example, data can be collected in the field and then easily and quickly processed and entered while in the field.

Together with colleagues from the university, for example, I worked on a project related to abandoned cars in different neighborhoods in Sofia. With ArcGIS Field Maps, we collected data about the cars, including what condition they were in, if they were rusted, if they had flat tires, or if they had expired civil liabilities… The lecturers rated this project extremely highly, as the data set we had collected was impressive.

In addition to ArcGIS Field Maps, at the university, I have also worked with ArcGIS Survey123 to collect information through surveys and forms. This Esri application is a very suitable and convenient tool for the purpose.

I also participated in a project to prepare a geological map of the Vitosha Nature Park. For this purpose, a symbology had to be made, because in geological terms Vitosha Nature Park is quite diverse, and I wanted to help prepare the color range itself. I used ArcGIS specifically to shape the symbology.

Why did you choose an internship at Esri Bulgaria?

I applied for an internship at Esri Bulgaria because this year is my last year at the university and I wanted to find out what the real working environment is like in this field. I put 100% of my effort into applying because I knew this internship would help me expand my knowledge and skills in working with GIS technologies. It was also important for me at this stage of my professional development to see the real work process in a GIS company operating on large-scale projects and to understand in which direction I want to develop.

Are your expectations from the internship justified?

It was a surprise that I was involved in a project in the early days at Esri. The people here have confidence in me and the other interns that we can get involved from the very beginning in the implementation of specific tasks. And that, in my opinion, is a plus, because I don’t think there should be a very long period of adaptation to the work process. I myself was able to adapt quite quickly, thanks to my mentor.

How do you work with the mentor, tell me a little bit about him?

He is very responsive and approachable. Together with him, we prepare web GIS dashboards according to a project implemented by the company. He accepts my work with great understanding and takes into account my notes and possible difficulties. From the beginning of the internship, he told me not to worry about asking, that mistakes happen, just that when I have any questions or feel like I’ve done something wrong, to contact him immediately to discuss what happened. Thus, we work out the problems on time and do not miss the project deadlines.

For me, this communication is extremely important. It is a privilege to have this connection between the more experienced and the less experienced professionals. He really provided me with a calm environment to be able to study and work.

And what new did you learn during your internship so far?

I have taken Esri online courses which have been quite helpful. I continued to expand and upgrade my GIS knowledge and skills, especially in the direction of applying ArcGIS Online.

The internship for me is definitely quite useful because I gain experience and I can prove my skills to other people, and show what I am capable of. To prove to myself that I can develop as a good specialist in the GIS field and upgrade my teamwork skills within this internship.

What is your message to those new to GIS?

It may sound like a cliché, but sometimes clichés are true – GIS is the future in my opinion! GIS is a tool that can contribute to a brighter future. These are systems that are popular enough in the realm of government organizations, for example, but they can be very useful for society as well. Through them, society’s problems can be analyzed and visualized by presenting them on interactive maps, which I think is a big enough factor to say that this is the future.