Bruce Telfeyan, Senior Requirements Meteorologist, 557th Weather Wing, US Air Force

Bruce Telfeyan, Senior Requirements Meteorologist, 557th Weather Wing, US Air Force

Please include details about your educational background and what sparked your interest in atmospheric or related sciences.  

I have a B.S. in Math from the University of Kentucky, 1970, and an M.S. in Meteorology from Cornell University, 1972.
I grew up on Long Island, about twenty miles east of Manhattan, where we were positioned to experience a lot of exciting weather, and when I was 11 years old I really began to get interested in severe kinds of weather. A big blizzard in March, 1960, and then Hurricane Donna right after my birthday in September of 1960, and then that winter, the winter of ‘60-’61, brought three blizzards to our area. At the end of that spell of severe weather, my interest in meteorology was cemented for the rest of my life. I don’t know what so fascinated me with the hurricane or with the blizzards, it might've been just getting days off of school, to be honest. But anyway, I was interested in the science and I pursued it to this very day. 

What was your first job in the field and how did you end up in the job you are in now?      

My first job was as a graduate research assistant at Cornell while working on my master's degree. It was 15 hours per week and paid my tuition plus a $3,000 annual stipend.

My current job goes back to going through Air Force ROTC while an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky. That led to an AF Commission and a 21-year career as a weather officer. After retiring from active duty in 1993, I was able to get hired as a civil servant at the Air Force Global Weather Central and have been an Air Force Civilian Meteorologist for the past 26 years.

What opportunities did you pursue that you knew would be beneficial to securing a job in the profession?    

I did all I could to learn as much as I could about meteorology, generally on my own. I subscribed to Weatherwise when I was 13 years old and also received the Daily Weather Maps from the US Weather Bureau starting in 1962. I joined the AMS back around 1964 and read the BAMS issue every month. 

What other courses/skills beyond the required math and science courses do you think would be the most helpful to individuals wanting a career in your profession?      

Certainly Geography courses are important, but today, computer programming courses are essential for becoming a meteorologist.

What is your typical day on the job like?

I work to satisfy and provide support addressing operational weather requirements for Air Force and Department of Defense users. Some of the requests are easy to provide as we already have a capability ready to push out to them. Other requests require a new capability to be developed.

What do you like most about your job? What is the most challenging thing about your job?

Certainly getting to work in a science that I love and have some expertise in is really positive. Working with competent and enthusiastic people is a strong positive aspect as well. Also, getting to mentor younger folks just starting their careers is a wonderful, rewarding thing to do.

I find that trying to get things done quickly within a government bureaucracy to be, at least at times, frustrating. There is a process that we need to follow and it can really slow down our efforts to deliver new capabilities.

Does your job allow for a good work/life balance? If not, why?      

As a government employee, I work 40 hours each week and beyond that, my time is my own. Unlike working in the private sector, I'm restricted to those hours except for emergency events, so I have lots of opportunity to achieve a good work/life balance. In the private sector, if requirements are not met because, perhaps, I choose to leave after 40 hours of work, they will quickly find someone who understands and puts in all the time needed to meet the customer request.

Over the course of your career what is the most exciting thing that has happened to you?     

Certainly, forecasting major weather events over my 42 year career has been exciting and rewarding. But getting to serve as a volunteer within the AMS has been especially rewarding.

I chaired to AMS Board for Operational Government Meteorologists, the Weather Analysis and Forecasting Committee, and have served as the Commissioner for the Scientific and Technological Activities Commission. These roles have been exceptionally rewarding for me.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in your career?      

Sure. I wish I had possessed more self-confidence and assertiveness. I think I would have risen higher in my military and civilian careers than I did and had a greater influence on how things were carried out.

What are some ‘must haves’’ on a resume if a person wants to gain employment in your field?      

Certainly having the academic course work needed to be a meteorologist is a must. In our science, you really need to be able to demonstrate that you have good people skills. Inevitably, there are tense situations on the job and its essential to maintain a cool and logical perspective on the many challenges at hand. Your resume should have a way to reflect this characteristic within you and your letters of recommendation should highlight these desirable traits.