A career in GIS - the starting point
Robbie Smith, GIS Technician
Our team of GIS Technicians play a crucial role at CityFibre, translating network infrastructure designs into a GIS environment so our Planners can design our full fibre networks, transforming the way communities across Britain connect.
To find out more about getting started as a GIS Technician, we spoke to Robbie Smith, who recently joined the GIS team at CityFibre.
Robbie, tell us a bit about what you studied and where.
I studied Geography at Aberystwyth. Once I finished my degree, I wanted to carry on studying Geography in a more practical way, so did a Masters in Remote Sensing and GIS, which was amazing - I finished it last October.
I’d been introduced to GIS in my first year and it was definitely something I found interesting. A lot of people wonder what kind of career you can get with a Geography degree, so I knew I wanted to focus on something practical and develop skills I could actually use.
Why did you choose a career in GIS?
Good question! For me, everything is GIS - it’s the centre of the world, it underpins everything we do, and every business could benefit from it in some way. Plus, the idea of translating the world around you into a useful, digital format is something I find fascinating.
So, what does a day in the life of a GIS Technician at CityFibre look like?
It starts with a morning call where everyone on the team catches up and shares what we’re all working on. Everyone has three or four cities to look after, which I love, because you’re given a certain amount of responsibility and respect as soon as you’ve completed your training, which I really appreciate. I work with each city on quality checking designs, amending designs and rebuilding the completed network in GIS once it’s finished so it can be fed into our wider network.
What do you enjoy most about working for CityFibre?
For me, it’s the opportunity to work on large infrastructure projects, which is something I always wanted to do. I also love the scale and ambition of what CityFibre is trying to achieve. I like their approach - I’m not babied here; I’m given real responsibility for massive projects, which is awesome.
As someone starting out in their career, what kind of support have you had from CityFibre?
When I first started, I felt a bit anxious - I didn’t know most of my team, or what I was going to be doing, but that feeling quickly went away. Reece, my manager, was amazing from the start and created a really great environment. I felt comfortable asking as many questions as I needed to. You’re definitely thrown in at the deep end, but that’s how you learn quickly. Although there are rigid design rules, there’s space to make your own decisions. And even though I came in with no knowledge about telecoms or fibre optics, I still felt trusted and empowered to get on with my work, with the support of my colleagues.
Why would you recommend the GIS team at CityFibre to graduates?
Because of the company’s attitude - it’s a big positive force driving everyone forward. Then there’s the team aspect - we’re all working together towards the same goal, but still have our own responsibilities, so feel very autonomous. The flexibility is also great. At the moment, we’re able to work from home for the foreseeable future. If you want to take what you’ve learned at University and be trusted to put it into action, CityFibre is the place for you.
And what are your top tips for graduates wanting to apply?
Make sure you have plenty of self-belief and show that in your interview - that’s the kind of attitude you need to have. Bring your own interests to the interview to discover those personal connections - don’t just be one dimensional. For example, in my interview, we chatted about the Three Peaks Challenge which some of the team had taken part in, as I have ambitions of completing it too! If you’ve got the driven, problem-solving attitude you need at CityFibre, make sure you can demonstrate it in other aspects of your life too.