After 10 years of teaching statistics in high school, John Fitzgibbons found himself on the other side of the class as a student in Temple University Professional Science Masters (PSM) Program in Geospatial Data Science (GDS).
Fitzgibbons decided to make a career change in 2019, fresh from getting married with a child on the way — and unknowingly heading into the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a very scary decision and a particularly scary time for a change,” Fitzgibbons said. “I didn’t know how long it was going to take to find a position after the program. I didn’t know what was going to come out of it. Looking back, I couldn’t be happier with the support I received from home and Temple because I really love what I do.
Fitzgibbons completed a graduate certificate in Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) at Temple in 2020. Afterwards, he moved on to the PSM in GDS program.
Shortly after graduating in 2021, he was hired as a Data Visualization Associate for the City of Philadelphia Child and Family Office. Like Fitzgibbons, about 96% of Temple’s PSM alumni in GIS and GDS have secured employment in GDS or data science upon completion of the one-year program, according to Liz JanczewskiProgram Student Services Coordinator.
The program was officially launched at the end of 2019. Lee HachadoorianPSM’s deputy director in the GIS and GDS programs, said Temple observed a need for programming and statistical analysis skills in the industry.
“We knew there was a demand in the workforce from people working in geospatial, so we started paying attention to that,” Hachadoorian said. “We thought it would be really important to focus on those skills and move forward with curriculum development while thinking carefully about how to differentiate GDS and GIS.”
Because so much data has a spatial element, graduates of GDS and GIS programs can apply their skills to any industry, Hachadoorian said. The GDS differs, however, with its emphasis on big data and advanced statistical education.
A combined interest in social issues and the “technical skills” inherent in GDS attracted Stephane Franciscoformer PSM 2022 in GDS, on the program.
“A lot of my peers who also went to liberal arts college have the same gap as me. They really enjoyed learning and got passionate about the subject, but their skill is doing research and reading and writing, which is what a lot of people have,” said Francisco, who has a degree in urban studies. of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “I just wanted a more specific skill in a growing industry. This program definitely fits that category.
Three quarters into the program, Francisco was hired as a data analyst for the Urban Health Collective at Drexel University.
Simultaneously working in the field full-time and completing a master’s program can be exhausting, Francisco said, but the class schedule allows him to balance the two. By design, all classes begin at or after 5:30 p.m. so that students can maintain employment and other opportunities.
“The jobs are out there. If you improve your skills that way, you can find something where you can use it.”
Fitzgibbons ran into a scheduling problem along the way – one that Hachadoorian quickly remedied. A class Fitzgibbons needed to complete the program was unavailable, and he feared delaying graduation for another semester. To help, Hachadoorian offered to teach Fitzgibbons the course as an independent study during his lunch hour.
“Every teacher is so helpful and so knowledgeable about what we can do with this kind of technology,” Fitzgibbons said. “He can do so much to benefit public policy, public health and education. They really see how it can bring awareness to all the issues that we see societally.
“He could just create an app to really show, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on in Philadelphia, a city that’s so affected by violence or poverty,’ and then hopefully get it into the hands of the right people who can start to make a difference,” he said.
Hachadoorian isn’t just excited about the job retention rates of the PSM in GDS program. The vice principal is also excited about the work that Temple alumni have taken on, such as jobs with city and state agencies, engineering companies, geotechnology companies, and nonprofit organizations.
“I am so proud of our alumni, and the truth is there is room for more growth,” Hachadoorian said. “The advantage is that if you’re interested in that stuff, the jobs are out there. If you improve your skills that way, you can find something where you can use it.