Advice for Aspiring Meteorologists
– By Christopher Poitras –
I was fortunate enough to organize and moderate an amazing webinar that enabled students with a meteorology interest and early-career meteorologists to learn and chat with some of the best professionals in the field!
Students and early-career meteorologists were able to understand the meteorological operations of Environment and Climate Change Canada, as well as The Weather Network, all while hearing from Meteorologists Jim Abraham, Chris Scott, Doug Gillham, and Mark Robinson on what it is like to become and work as a Meteorologist. All of the meteorologists that spoke were delighted with their experience as a meteorologist and encouraged students to follow their passion. While there were similarities in both the experience as an ECCC and Weather Network meteorologist, the experts explained that the main working differences between the organizations is that ECCC uses more raw data, and then translates it into weather maps, whereas The Weather Network has access to already computer-processed raw weather data that can be placed into forecast maps. In both cases, the path to meteorology is pretty similar: a general degree the meteorology or a related field. However, a main theme that all of the meteorologists emphasized was that it is good to know coding and programming even if it’s not included in your program and to be ready for shift work that includes overnight shifts.
Furthermore, participants were able to ask UBC professor Douw Steyn, all of their educational questions, including whether or not a PhD program would be right for them. His advice was that if you have a strong desire to pursue your PhD in a topic you are really interested in and have a passion for teaching in this topic in the future, then you are strongly encouraged to apply and complete your PhD. However, if you are on the fence about it, then it is best to not pursue this degree, at least until you are sure.
I would say the most imperative part of the seminar was the ability for the audience to get a real understanding of whether they are on track to become a Meteorologist, or if they need to go back and take certain courses. The experts agreed that if you are pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in meteorology or a related field, and are trying to get some internship or volunteer experience, you’re on the right track! But whether or not you should pursue a government job, graduate studies or private weather forecasting depends on you and your personal career goals. Additionally, the questions that students and early-career meteorologists asked, were vital to giving them the motivation and satisfaction that they are on the right path to their career goals.
In closing, I would like to mention that the recording of this session is available on the CMOS YouTube channel, or through this link here.
My name is Christopher Poitras, and I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am a first-year student at Mississippi State University, completing a Master’s of Science in Environmental Geoscience. I am also a recent graduate of a Bachelor’s of Science in Geography, Weather Broadcasting, and Meteorology, as well as the Penn State Weather Forecasting certificate program.
Since I can remember, having been born and raised in Calgary, the constantly fluctuating and volatile climate has further sparked an already budding interest in weather. As I was growing up, all weather fascinated me, especially how every person relies on a great forecast in one way or another. However being a prairies kid, thunderstorms have always fascinated me the most. As a result, after experiencing a few severe thunderstorms in my own backyard (and even having to hide in the basement on a couple of occasions, due to an imminent tornado threat), I knew exactly what career path was meant for me! My strong interest in Meteorology led me to start as a weather forecaster with Wx Centre in May of 2018.