FitzGerald graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in marketing management. She then owned and operated a local construction company before finding her passion in geospatial intelligence. Going back to school while continuing to work, FitzGerald earned a geographic information systems certificate from Northern Virginia Community College. She currently works as a geospatial analyst with Icaros, and has accepted an offer as a geospatial analyst with NGA to begin later this month.
How did you become interested in GEOINT?
I have always loved the outdoors and hiking. I can stare at travel and trail maps for hours while planning my next adventure. When I read about GIS and learned of all the exciting applications that are possible, I realized I had found what I was looking for—an intellectually challenging career that I remain excited about every day.
How did you hear about USGIF’s Young Professionals Group and why did you decide to join?
While taking the online MOOC “Geospatial Intelligence and the Geospatial Revolution” through Penn State University, USGIF CEO Keith Masback joined the student chat group to introduce the organization. Soon after, I met YPG members at the Esri Federal User Conference. I was excited to meet a fun group of people in my chosen field, so I became involved with USGIF’s Young Professionals Working Group (YPWG).
What other groups/committees are you involved with in addition to the YPWG?
The YPWG meets monthly to plan workshops and social events for young professionals entering the GEOINT field. I also recently became a member of USGIF’s Tradecraft and Professional Development Committee. The Tradecraft and Professional Development Committee serves USGIF members in all stages of their professional and career development. Both groups are seeking members, so all are welcome at the next meetings.
What advice would you give to students just beginning a GEOINT career?
Get involved. I’ve had so many opportunities to meet people in the GEOINT field and to learn about how the Intelligence Community works without having a clearance. Volunteering with USGIF introduces you to new people and experiences.
How has USGIF Individual Membership benefited you?
I have belonged to numerous trade groups and associations through my previous career and during college. However, USGIF has given me the most in return. Everyone I meet is welcoming, whether it is a colleague on the YPWG or NGA Deputy Director Sue Gordon who I met at Geography 2050 in November. The opportunities to learn, have fun, and meet new people are constant. As with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in. The opportunities are there, but you have to want to network, volunteer, and get involved to realize them.
What do you like to do outside of your career?
Everything. Seriously, I could live three lifetimes and never learn and see and do everything I want to, but I will die trying. I love to read, travel, and hike, among many others.
Photo Credit: Heather FitzGerald