Please describer your educational background and what sparked your interest in atmospheric or related sciences.
I received my B.S. degree in meteorology from Lyndon State College (now renamed to Northern Vermont University) in Vermont. I chose to pursue a degree to deepen my knowledge and interest in weather and earth science. As a kid, I always loved science and understanding how our earth worked.
What was your first job in the field and how did you end up in the job you are in now?
My first full time job in meteorology was as weekend meteorologist at a local TV station (WFFF/WVNY) in Burlington, Vermont. I spent 6 years at WFFF and would eventually climb to chief meteorologist there. After 2 other stops at television stations (WPEC in West Palm Beach, FL and WeatherNationTV in Denver, CO), I wanted to expand my skillset and shifted my career from broadcasting, to pursue a new career path in science communication. I currently work at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where I create engaging outreach to promote clean energy initiatives and research.
What opportunities did you pursue that you knew would be beneficial to securing a job in the profession?
In addition to getting my degree, I have had various jobs in weather forecasting and communication. These jobs have been a learning experience, and have helped me discover what fuels my passion, and what aspects of science communication I thoroughly enjoy.
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?
100% try theatre. I have learned that no matter how deep your knowledge of science—in my case, atmospheric science—your knowledge can only go so far if you cannot properly communicate it. Having taken many theatre and improvisational classes, I learned the invaluable skill of listening and reacting, as well as clearly communicating to connect with my audience.
What is your typical day on the job like?
Typically, my days are peppered with discussions, strategic planning, and brainstorming effective ways to communicate the research I support at NREL. Since COVID, that work is done from my home, which is okay! I've learned to connect through video chat and clear documentation of those strategies.
What do you like most about your job? What is the most challenging thing about your job?
I love finding creative ways to share stories of the research I support. While COVID has presented new challenges, I find myself seeking creative opportunities to connect with my target audiences digitally. The most challenging aspect is spending a bit too much time behind a computer since COVID—I'm a very hands-on person and enjoy collaborative discussion and activities.
Does your job allow for a good work/life balance? If not, why?
Yes! Since I left the broadcast television industry, my work/life balance has never been better. It was a challenge in TV, with all sorts of crazy hours, on call scheduling, and severe weather prompting cancelled vacations and overtime. Now, I am happy to say, I have a very happy balance between working and then being able to log off at the end of the day.
Over the course of your career what is the most exciting thing that has happened to you?
This is a tough question to ask someone who has ever been in journalism. Working in local news, every day presents an opportunity to meet someone new and share their story. Through my work, I have met people I wouldn't have otherwise met, I have led numerous community events and charity efforts to help others, and have inspired people through my passion of science and weather. Knowing that I had a personal impact on someone's life, in some cases by sharing life-saving weather information, is very exciting.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently in your career?
Yes. But my career isn't over, and there are always opportunities to open new doors.
What are some ‘must haves’’ on a resume if a person wants to gain employment in your field?
Make sure you have your degree, preferably in atmospheric sciences. Get experience however you can to showcase your work and add details of your contributions and dedication to the field.