It’s resume tape season, so I thought it might be helpful to share some of my thoughts on what makes a great resume tape. You might talk to a dozen news directors on what makes a great tape, and get several different responses back, but I think there are some fundamentals that most can agree on. Continue reading
College campuses are busy again and like every Autumn, the campus television stations are getting ready for another semester. If you are a student meteorologist interested in a career in broadcasting, these campus stations are your best bet to get the practice you need to be good enough to land that first job. Some campus stations are run by college broadcasting or journalism department and can give students a real taste of live television news. Other campus stations are student led free-for-alls that lack any kind of structure or leadership. These are in the majority. While TV clubs are a lot of fun, usually they are not going to help you get as good as you need before you graduate.
If you are serious about your future in broadcast meteorology, you need to take a hard look at what kind of experience you are planning to get this semester. Here are a few important things to consider and look for:
Live daily newscasts are better than taped weather cut-ins. Does your campus television station offer live daily newscasts? Many campus stations tape their newscasts or only offer cut-ins for weather. It’s important to be part of a full newscast to learn anchor chat and the ability to work with others. If you are only getting a minute or two per weathercast, you are missing out on a full news show experience. Some campus stations only air newscasts once or twice a week. If its not a daily newscast, and you are not the only broadcast meteorologist in the program, there is no way you’ll get enough shows to get to where you want with your skill.
Campus TV clubs usually don’t sport the gear you need. You are going to want a chroma-key wall, a news set and some good lighting. Chances are your résumé tape material will come from the shows you do on your college television station. If the set or lighting looks like it came from the high school A/V club, then you are probably not helping your chances. You also need a weather computer that provides live satellite and radar data, and the ability to draw your own surface maps. Anything less and you might as well be doing the weather from your bedroom webcam. Not only are theses computers great to have for your shows, but they also give your résumé a huge boost if you know how to use them. Find a college that is serious about putting out high-quality newscasts.
Graduation seems like it was ages ago. You were pretty fired up to get that first job in broadcast meteorology a month and a half ago, but today you are starting to feel a little disheartened about the whole thing. That’s okay, but I’m here to tell you its way too early to throw in the towel.
Hopefully you know already that there are more broadcast meteorologists out there than jobs available to fill them, so the field is pretty competitive. You might have been the best in your graduating class, but there are plenty of other schools putting out good broadcast meteorologists as well. In addition, you might be up against more seasoned mets who have been working for a year or two who are looking to make a lateral move, or bump up from part time to full time. So right from the start, you’ve got a lot of qualified people all applying for the same jobs you are. That doesn’t mean you won’t find your spot. You just need to keep working at it, and planning for the long run.
Here are a couple of things to consider if you are still looking for that first job in broadcast meteorology:
Becoming an effective broadcast meteorologist is like training to run a marathon. If you rolled out of bed one day and tried to run 26.2 miles, you probably wouldn’t make it too far. Its the same way with broadcast meteorology. It takes practice. If you want to become a good broadcast met with a great resume tape, you need to be able to work at it.
You’ll probably be pretty terrible at first, and that’s okay. What is important is that you pick the right college program to put yourself in a position to succeed. Know exactly what the broadcasting program offers meteorologists ahead of time, so that you don’t get two years into a four year program that is not going to help get you there. Don’t go to a school to learn how to swim if they don’t have a pool (I felt like Dr. Phil right there).
Here are a few things you should look for in a good broadcast meteorology program:
Live, daily newscasts – You should be part of a news team that does live broadcasts everyday. You’ll want to have anchors to chat with, and photojournalists to take you outside when the weather gets bad. It has to be every day because you want to get in as many shows as possible, and you’ll likely have to spread it out among the other mets. And you’ll want the shows to be live because there is a big psychological difference between live and taped TV. You don’t want to have to work through those nerves at your first real job.
Broadcast classes for meteorologists – Colleges offer classes for public speaking, and classes for journalism, but what mets really need is a performance class with other mets. Classes ought to be taught by someone who has some previous broadcast weather experience, and gives you the opportunity to get in front of the chroma-key wall every week. In the classroom environment, you get to make those early mistakes away from live television with a instructor who can help you get better.
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.