GIS combines everything I expect from a career

Interview with Denis Ivanov, software development intern at Esri Bulgaria.

Passionate about mathematics and especially geometry from a young age, Denis Ivanov applied for “Architecture” at the Sofia High School of Construction, Architecture, and Geodesy “Hristo Botev”. By coincidence, however, he was finally accepted into “Geodesy”. Coincidence played a happy trick on him and not only does he like the major, but he finds that it combines beautifully with many other areas of interest to him.

Today, Denis is a third-year student, majoring in Geodesy at UASG and is already developing in the field of GIS and software development. Geospatial technologies, programming, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and astronomy – are only a small part of the interests of the participant in the Spring Internship Program of Esri Bulgaria. See what else Denis shares about himself, his dreams, and his professional goals.


Tell us more about yourself…

I have been involved in natural sciences, mathematics, and technical specialties since high school. It all started with my interest in geometry. Most students are interested in the algebraic part of mathematics, while I have always had an affinity and talent for geometry, the spatial part. I was accepted as a Geodesy major, which turned out to be quite lucky. In practice, geodesy is geometry – geometry for the Earth, which is combined with statistics, physics, and various other such specialties, which are my passion.

After high school, I continued my studies in the specialty at UASG, where over time my interest in GIS and programming increased. Today, I would definitely like to develop in the field of GIS and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Both are technologies that have the potential to contribute a lot to society.

What was your first encounter with GIS?

I first met GIS in the second year of the Geodesy major at UASG. And I can’t say it was love at first sight. At first, the technology was quite foreign to me, but after I also met ArcGIS, my initial notions were turned upside down. I never cease to be amazed at the possibilities that ArcGIS provides for so many different fields. For example, in ArcGIS you can make animations, almost movies, which I never even thought could be done with GIS. There are many opportunities to apply AI for object recognition from satellite images for various purposes. Even I can’t claim to know all its features at the moment, because every day I discover new ones. It can definitely be applied in many different ways. ArcGIS has put a lot of thought into how to navigate the user as easily as possible, extremely intelligently done, eliminating many problems and difficulties that arise when working with other types of software.

Why did you choose an internship at Esri Bulgaria?

Everyone at the university was talking about ArcGIS as a technology of a whole other magnitude. I knew that Esri Bulgaria is a representative of the American company – Esri, which is a world leader in the field of GIS technologies. This implies a fairly high level of both the selection and the work process itself. When I saw that there was a software development internship opportunity, I decided to apply. For me, on the one hand, this is an opportunity to be useful, and on the other hand, to develop faster as a specialist in the field of GIS and software development. And in an environment with large and established experts, as part of a very serious and successful company.

What do you do as an intern, what is your working day like, what new things do you learn…

The new things I learn are many. I mainly write desktop applications – not entirely new applications, but I work on desktop applications in C# and in particular on .Net, I write Python scripts. I also learned an expression scripting language that is part of ArcGIS. The language is called Arcade – I use it to upgrade the functionality of the database.

Undoubtedly, I learned a lot during the internship, and I hope my colleagues share the same opinion. I am quite ambitious and wanted to not only prove myself but also get the most out of this internship. I tried with this internship to enrich myself as a specialist and from my point of view, I achieved it.

Was the mentor helpful to you?

Very helpful! Firstly, I am very pleasantly surprised by how much he knows and secondly, by the patience and kindness with which he approached me as his trainee. At the very beginning, we had a meeting where I told him about myself and the skills I have. And from the very first day – he found such a task for me, with which I could both use the knowledge I had up to that point and at the same time build on it. I really liked the approach he has because he doesn’t serve everything ready, but gives me a structure, a general direction, but also lets me gradually learn different new things. The pace at which we work is quite good – we don’t rush things too much, but we also manage to be efficient and get work done.

You got into real work tasks quickly, were these your preliminary expectations for the internship?

At the moment I feel like a full part of the team. I feel that as much as an intern can, I contribute and do real work. I work on real company projects. Regarding expectations – I didn’t expect it to be the stereotypical internship where we interns would bring coffee and fill out some routine paperwork.

And indeed, the internship turned out to be very practical and very useful to me. All the colleagues I have encountered so far are very competent in one field or another – either GIS or software development or both. I feel in place and I think that I worked quite well with the colleagues with whom I had shared tasks.

What is the most memorable part of your internship?

One of the things I will remember about this internship is how I surprised myself with the speed with which I can absorb new information, of course with the help of my mentor and not only him. Also, the contacts are useful to me and I like the people I met. And if I can continue to work with them, it will be my pleasure.

Apparently, you see GIS as a field in which you want to develop in the future…

No doubt! GIS combines everything I expect from a career! Surveying and GIS go hand in hand. And if I achieve my goals and enter the field of AI and apply it in GIS, then in this way I will be able to combine both mathematics and informatics in my future professional activity.

I would like to further develop and build on my knowledge and skills thus far with a second degree or PhD in AI.

My interests are related to solving real problems. One area where I think GIS technology can be applied very seriously is road safety. It could help automate the driving process, for example, and that’s something I’d be into if given the chance in time.

What is your message to those just getting into GIS?

I can assure them that the technology is very interesting and applicable in a variety of fields. Working with GIS is enjoyable both as a separate activity and as people you encounter while working with the technology in question.

Finally, I can only add that my overall impression of working with GIS, and specifically my work with GIS here at Esri is that I am fascinated and that it has been a great pleasure for me so far to be a part of such a large and leading company, in which I can develop and develop my potential.