“I’m in my early 50s and probably going to be working for another 15 to 20 years,” he says. “I think I deserve to be working on something I’m really interested in.”
He enrolled this year in Northeastern’s Master of Professional Studies in Geographic Information Technology program to fulfill that goal. For Cacciatore, the program brought together different disciplines he was interested in, such as coding, analysis, geospatial statistics, and remote sensing, and offered him the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with emerging technologies in the field.
“As everything gets connected, whether that’s people, places, or things, there’s an area of analytics that hasn’t been fully explored yet,” Cacciatore says, “and I think the geospatial domain will be a huge component of that.”
Cacciatore started the program part-time to “test the waters” and see if pursuing a master’s while balancing his personal and professional commitments was possible. The nature of the online program allowed him to complete coursework on his own schedule and at his own pace. He’s since transitioned to being a full-time student, with plans to graduate in June 2017—and with the hands-on experience he needed.
Cacciatore participated in Northeastern’s Experiential Network, which connects students with a sponsoring organization to work on a short-term project over a six-week period. Cacciatore was paired with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), a community-based planning and organizing nonprofit, to develop a dashboard highlighting the specific demographics of the Dudley Village Campus, a community of neighborhoods in North Dorchester and Roxbury.
As part of his project, Cacciatore needed to determine what statistics were necessary to convey the story DSNI was trying to tell. He found figures like the median household income per census block group, the number of severely rent-burdened households, and the number of non-English speaking households to represent how diverse the Dudley Village Campus is. He then used his new geographic information systems skills to map out those specific demographics.
“It’s great, because you do this exercise in a book and then have a real-time problem,” Cacciatore says. “It’s like, ‘How do you apply those methods you learned to real-time decisions that need to be made?’”
Through the program, Cacciatore discovered how to put theory into practice and plans to use his new geographic information systems skills to enhance his career in data analytics.
“I now understand fundamental geospatial concepts and can speak some of the language of that domain,” he says. “This allows me to have a much different narrative when I go back out into the workforce after I finish my degree.”
This post is the first in a series highlighting how Northeastern students are personalizing their education. For Angelo Cacciatore, that involved choosing the learning format right for his lifestyle and participating in experiential learning opportunities that helped him gain hands-on experience in his desired field.
Are you ready to take the next step? Learn more about how the Professional Advancement Network can help you achieve your personal and professional goals—anytime, anywhere.