As much as we try we can’t predict the future, especially when it comes to our careers. While you are still in college, you should take some time to put together a plan for when things don’t go as expected.
We’re not all living the dream. For some broadcast meteorologists, recent graduates discover that either they don’t like the job as much as they thought they would, or that the job doesn’t like them. Some meteorologists have unrealistic expectations of what the job will pay, or what the hours or work might be like. Others find that no matter how many tapes they send out to even the smallest of stations, the phone will just not ring.
When I graduated college, I didn’t have a Plan B. I was six months out of school, working in retail and my college loans were coming due. I had sent out dozens of tapes with little more than a ‘no thanks’ in return. My Plan B ended up being me going back to college to get a broadcasting degree. Three semesters later, I was able to land my first broadcast meteorology gig, which is actually at the same station I’m at today, thirteen years later.
I was lucky, and if I could go back I would have done it differently. I see other graduates get trapped in the same spot, with less fortunate results. Colleges are much more expensive today and to add another two years of college expenses to the four years you’ve already done just doesn’t justify the $20,000 to $25,000 paycheck you are going to earn in the first few years. If broadcast meteorology just doesn’t work out for you, it’s even harder to go back to college and learn something else.While you are still in school, take some time to think about the future. Brainstorm some options and don’t leave any possibility off the table. The first thing to consider would be other branches of meteorology. Talk to your advisor about other alternatives in forecasting and research for energy, commodities, forensics and shipping. There are also careers with the National Weather Service and the government. You’ll have to narrow down what you can do with a bachelor’s degree or if you might need to go to graduate school (and you’ll need the grades to do that). Check out the blog that AJ Jain has put together with some more ideas on the evolving industry.
Your other option might be to do something outside of meteorology completely. You’ll have to figure out what your strengths are and what other career choices might be out there. As a broadcast meteorologist, not only do you have science skills, but hopefully you also have writing, speaking and computer skills as well. Make the most of your electives now and round yourself out with classes that might help you land an entry-level job in a whole new field.
You never know what’s down the road, you can only do your best to pack accordingly. It kills me to see broadcast meteorologists struggle after graduation. I’ve been there and I know what its like. There is a time to fight and hang in there, and then there is a time for Plan B. The key stay open to the possibilities around you. Keep your head up and moving forward.
Any success stories out there? Has anyone survived the transition away from broadcast meteorology?