• Have Degree, Will Travel: Being Flexible When Looking For Your First Job

    Every broadcast meteorologist has a dream job. Its a position in a market that they’ve either grown up in, or always wanted to work in. What comes as a surprise to many graduating mets is the reality that getting to that dream job can be a long journey, that usually begins with a job in a small market television station. Many mets might be reluctant to work at a tiny station, or move hundreds of miles away from home, but those that do find themselves one step closer to where they ultimately would like to be.

    Plan on starting in a bottom 100 market. Those are markets in the 100 to 200 range. You can find the whole list here. The bottom hundred is filled with smaller towns all over the country, which usually pays smaller wages, and more likely to hire mets just out of college. If you can start in the top 100, great. I’ve had several students at Lyndon who have done it, but if you set your sights too high at the start of your search, you might miss out on some opportunities.

    Be willing to travel, perhaps far from home. The more flexible you are on where you are willing to go, the more likely you’ll be to spend your summer working on-air, rather than at Home Depot and living with your parents. The sooner you get started, the quicker you’ll be moving on to your next gig, closer to that dream job.

    Be ready to stay a while. Most entry-level job opening will likely to have you sign a two year contract. They are going to spend some time training you and promoting you, so they’ll want you to hang around for them to make worth their time. Contracts are binding, and something you should take seriously, so make sure you know what you are getting into.

    After a few years working in the industry, you might find that the job you thought you wanted, isn’t where you want to be today. Life changes, and so will your goals for the future. Don’t stress out so much about where you want to be, and try and spend more time thinking about what you want to do today.

    Where is your dream job?

  • Weekend Warriors

    Ah summer.. some parts of the country wait all year for these few months. Its time to get out with friends and family, and enjoy concerts, weddings and parties.

    That is, unless you are working weekends. Most broadcast meteorologists starting out get stuck with working the weekend shift, and it can be a frustrating time of year if you are used to getting out and being social with the rest of the world. You’ll find that with everybody else off on Saturday and Sunday, most summer events are scheduled for those days, and getting any time off to be there can be a bit of a challenge.

    Here are a few tips for mets who need help surviving the weekends:

    • Bond with you coworkers – New reporters, photogs and producers are in the same boat you are, and probably closer in age and interests than a lot of the veterans. Get to know them outside of the office.
    • Take advantage of the weekdays – While everyone else is working, life can be a lot less crowded. Hang out with people with similar schedules and enjoy restaurants, beaches, and golf courses without the weekend rush.
    • The long lunch – Evening breaks between the 6pm and 11pm shows can be useful in popping into quick social events to keep contact with your workweek friends. You’ll want to avoid the alcohol, and its never easy going back to work in the middle of the fun, but at least you can make an appearance.
    Believe me, it doesn’t get any easier. One thing you need to know is that there are no good shifts in local television news. From weekends, you might move up to mornings, where you’ll get up at 3am (or earlier). After that, there is the prime time shift that runs evenings and nights past the 11pm news. So weekends might not be all that bad. Things are usually a little less formal around the office on Saturday and Sunday with fewer people in the building. And you still can go out and enjoy happy hour.. it just starts at midnight.
  • Moving Up: Bryan Shaw

    I just wanted to say congratulations to one of my first students, Bryan Shaw. He has just started a new job at WIVB in Buffalo, NY. I met Bryan on my very first day of teaching at Lyndon State College in September 2007. I could tell he was driven, and he was very focused on doing what he needed to do in his Senior year to get his career going.

    Bryan got his start working for a few stations in West Virginia, and now he’s getting a shot in a bigger market. Being from western New York and life-long Buffalo Bills fan myself, I couldn’t be happier for him. Here is a little introduction segment with him they did last week.

    I feel like every graduate eventually finds their spot, and I think the Bryan is on his way to finding his. He’s done a nice job so far and I’m sure he’ll continue to do great things.

  • Off and Running

    Off and Running

     

    In June, with most colleges out for the summer, the focus for most new broadcast meteorologists is either on internships or the job search. I’ve always felt that getting the first job out of college is the hardest, and it can be a real stressful time for new grads. Its like jumping off the diving board, hoping the pool is really full of water.

    So hopefully, you’ve got a great resume tape. If you don’t, that’s a topic for another post. Now that you are out of school, its time to hit the pavement and grab that first entry level job. The first thing you’ll want to do is reconnect with professionals you might know from internships or conferences. They usually have an ear to the ground and might know of an upcoming or current opening in their market. You don’t want to be a pest, but a quick email should do the trick. If they know about something, and want to give you a hand, you’ll hear back.

    The one-stop shop that almost everyone uses is TVJobs.com. You pay to get access to the job database, but the cost is reasonable for an annual subscription and well worth it. That is where I found my job at WCAX in December 1998, and more than ten years later, its still the place to go. Medialine.com is also a good resource, not only for finding openings, but posting your tape as well. The WxLine forum is also very good there to see what mets are talking about. It does cost money to post your reel and look at openings, but if you are actively looking, its a good investment.

    If you are trying to save some money, or if you know the region you’d like to find a job in, you can search television websites directly. Most stations post their openings somewhere on their site. Each station is different, so it can be a little frustrating and time consuming at times, but sometimes you’ll find that unadvertised job you weren’t expecting to find. To get started, try Newslink.org. There you will find a pretty good index of local television stations organized by state.

    I see a lot of graduates sending out blind tapes, meaning that every station within a three hundred mile radius of where they live will get a DVD popping up in the mail. I’ve never felt that unsolicited tapes help give you an edge. I think that if a station needed to fill a position, even if it was in a pinch, they just wouldn’t hire the person who showed up in the mailbox that week. They are going to find the best person they can, and with so many mets looking for jobs, it would be crazy to just hire anyone.

    Its a process, and it takes time, so no matter how good you think your tape is, be patient and persistent. Things usually have a way of working out. Any tips or tricks you’d like to share on how and where to look for broadcast meteorology gigs? I’d be happy to hear from you.