The Road from Intern to Federal Employee

Chelsea Herbertson was an intern with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s Colorado State Office in Lakewood, working as a geographic information systems (GIS) specialist through Western Colorado Conservation Corps. Today, she is a federal employee! Here is what the 24-year-old shared with us about her experience.

Key roles and responsibilities? There were many. One was using python skills to identify areas that need to be adjusted, from updating public land surveys from cadastral maps to collaborating with subject matter specialists. I also verified and updated the surface management agency and federal mineral rights layers using research with the master title plats and associated General Land Office (GLO) documents. And I collaborated with the field offices to collect information about the lands with wilderness characteristics.

What she hoped to gain? I was hoping to gain the knowledge, network and experience to qualify for a GIS position when one opened up in the area. I was also looking for a learning opportunity that would benefit my future and the things I love, such as enjoying the public lands that we have. 

Interesting project? One recent interesting project was creating a story map for the GLO’s Record of the Week. I focused on a historical figure in Colorado who had an interesting patent that was redone due to a legal land description error. He happened to also have created of the first brewery in Colorado. 

Favorite aspect of the internship? I loved learning about all the opportunities that were available through the National Training Center, ESRI and the Department of Interior talent website. I also really enjoyed getting the chance to go out to a field office and doing a training with them, because you get the opportunity to see how the field offices operate compared to the central state office. 

Chelsea (right) with oil and gas employees and another GIS specialist on a float in Kremmling to ground-truth campsites shown in a story map. 

Skills acquired? I acquired many skills during my internship, such as new geoprocessing skills, coding skills and technical skills with computers, tablets and web applications. 

What’s she doing now? I am now a federal employee as a GIS specialist at the BLM’s Colorado State Office on a ladder position that goes from a GS-7 to a GS-12. 

Chelsea working with a large printed map of the state of Colorado. 

Career interests? I am interested in getting better at coding in an enterprise GIS environment. I also am looking to learn more about becoming a GIS specialist for fire assignments and getting started on my training. I am also going to be working on learning how to work with the parcel fabric. I am interested in creating new and innovative ways to display information and store information for the BLM and the public to use efficiently. 

Youth corps benefits to Colorado? Young adults with fresh minds are getting into the federal workforce, which could help provide new perspectives on work processes and functions that occur in Colorado.  

Final words of wisdom? Youth corps is a spectacular program that allows students or recent graduates in the community to get a taste of what it is like to work in a government setting, and learn many skills that can help them decide what they want to do for their career and help them get there faster.

Thanks for sharing, Chelsea! You are an inspiration to us all. Best of luck in your future endeavors.