Many student broadcast meteorologists spend part of their summers doing internships. Its sort of like summer camp, except with a shirt and tie. Local television station weather departments have been kind enough to open their doors each year, and allow upcoming mets to get a better look into what really goes on behind the camera.
Its a two-way relationship. On-air meteorologists can use an extra set of hands during severe weather and vacations, and student meteorologists get to learn and see the kind of real-world operations that you just can’t get on campus. I had three internships during college; at WHEC and WROC in Rochester, NY, and then at WPTZ in Plattsburgh NY. All three opened doors for me and ultimately made me feel like this was the career I wanted to be in.
In order to make this the best experience possible, you need to come into with with the right frame of mind. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Be helpful, but not in the way. On-air mets are more than willing to show you the ropes, but they need to do a job as well. Do your best to help them out, but let them get the work done for the show. Especially during severe weather or just before the show, things can be stressful. If you help them out, they will be likely to return the favor down the road.
- Check your ego and be respectful. Go into the experience understanding that you are there to learn. There a lots of things you don’t know, and lots of things you think you know, but probably still don’t. Offer ideas, but don’t take it personally if the on-air met feels differently. The way you did your forecast in the college meteorology lab is probably different than the way they do it at the local station. Thant’s okay. Be flexible and open to new things.
- Be professional. A local television station is not a campus television station, and its going to be in your best interest to treat your internship like a real job. Granted, you’re not getting paid, but you still need to dress, and act like you are on the clock. Right from the start, know what is expected of you, and what you’ll be getting back in return.
All internships are different, so you’ll want to know in the beginning what you are and are not able to do. Some stations will let you make graphics, others won’t. Some stations will let you practice in front of the chroma-key wall, others won’t. I’ve usually found that smaller stations let you do more, and are more likely to hire you out of college if something were to ever open up. Working over the summer in Boston or New York might be a fantastic experience, but don’t plan on getting hired there the day after graduation. Ultimately, any internship is better than none at all, and you’ll want to start making arrangements for the summer around late March and into April.
If you are an on-air meteorologist, what do you expect out of your interns? What are some of the best things to know for them (and you) to survive the summer?