I was getting on the Interstate in Burlington, Vermont yesterday and saw a hitchhiker with a sign that said ‘Boston’. With Boston being about three and a half hours away, I had to think that the chance of someone coming by, picking him up and taking him to Boston had to be pretty slim. He was going to have to be either really lucky, or really good at hitchhiking. I think the same goes for starting out in broadcast meteorology.
Maybe instead of trying to hitchhike to Boston, this guy could have had a sign that said ‘Montpelier’. Its on the way to Boston, but only about thirty minutes away. Chances are probably a lot better that he’d make it there. After that, he could try for Lebanon, NH, then Manchester, then finally it would be a much more hitch-able ride into Boston. It would probably take more time and work than getting one ride from Burlington to Boston, but the chances of getting there would be a whole lot higher.
Its usually the same path for broadcast meteorologists. Television markets in the United States are ranked by size from number one (New York City) to 210 (Glendive, Montana). A new broadcast meteorologist will likely start out in a bottom one hundred market, somewhere from Evansville, Indiana to Glendive. You’ll usually spend two or three years there, and then move on to a 50 to 100 station, possibly from Buffalo to Charleston. Finally if you keep at it, and have the skill and ability, you can land in a top fifty market. You’ve managed to hitchhike to Boston.
Here’s the catch: every meteorologist’s story is different. Some people are exceptional at what they do, and others are very lucky. Most of us have to climb the market ladder. Some of us want it more than anything in the world, but will just not get there. You don’t want to sit there on the side of the road forever, waiting for that car to stop for Boston. Instead, you should be trying to make smaller jumps building skills along the way, if that is what you want to do.
I think you’ll find as with most things in life, its more about the journey than the destination. Do your best work today, and be happy for where you are right now. Bigger cities don’t always mean greater happiness. Personally, I’m at the same station I started with when I graduated college almost thirteen years ago, and have no plans to go anywhere. I’m perfectly happy, and no matter where you are, or how much money you make, that should be your main goal from the start. You’ll find your spot.