All It Takes Is a Spark: DEVELOP Fellow presents as Keynote Speaker

All It Takes Is a Spark: DEVELOP Fellow presents as Keynote Speaker

On January 29th, 2019, Neda Kasraee found herself standing in front of an audience of more than 300 people at the Esri Federal GIS Conference. She was the keynote speaker for the Young Professionals Network Luncheon.

It all started back in October 2018 when Kasraee reached out to a contact at Esri to inquire about opportunities for presenting research. She pitched her DEVELOP project and explained why it would make a good presentation.

In early January, her request paid off, and Kasraee received an invitation to fly to Washington D.C. to speak about the DEVELOP program and her work on the Black Rock Playa Urban Development project, for which she was project lead during the Spring 2018 term.

Kasraee spent the next three weeks preparing, memorizing, and practicing her presentation before traveling all the way across the country. The day of her talk, Kasraee traveled from the NASA DEVELOP Jet Propulsion Laboratory node, where she is based as an Impact Analysis Fellow, to the nation’s capital.

The project presentation Kasraee and her team created during the term was a perfect starting point for crafting her talk. Breaking down the project for her audience, Kasraee explained how she and her team used NASA Earth observations to assess the environmental impact of the Burning Man festival on the Black Rock Desert playa in northwestern Nevada. The project was interesting to the young professionals that made up the audience and exhibited the various research opportunities in remote sensing.

Kasraee also had the opportunity to meet Jack Dangermond, the cofounder and president of Esri. Dangermond made an appearance at her presentation and they shared the stage to take questions from the audience. On her flight back to Los Angeles, she could finally take a deep breath, reflecting on this incredible professional development experience.

Kasraee expressed how glad she was that she had taken the time to reach out that day back in October.

“There are two main takeaways that I learned from this experience. One would be to reach out and make connections with other professionals. And two, work hard on deliverables! I used them a lot while preparing for my presentation, and I was so glad that all the text was editable!” she explained.

Through DEVELOP, Kasraee cultivated the professional skills that set her up for success. So take a note from Neda Kasraee, work hard, reach out, send that email, and make your own opportunities by leveraging your network. You never know where it could take you.

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