AMS: Opportunities in the New Job Climate and Beyond

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the 13th Annual American Meteorological Society (AMS) Student Conference, February 1–2, Atlanta, GA

American Meteorological Society Student Conference

February 1, 2014 to February 2, 2014

Atlanta, GA


Catherine O'Riordan, Vice President, Physics Resources Center, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD

Carlysle McNaught poses proudly with his research poster. Photo courtesy of Catherine O'Riordan.

A big storm was coming in, and decisions needed to be made. Teams of students pored over the data available to them. Should warnings be issued? If so, when? Should schools and businesses be asked to close? With the help of mentors, the students evaluated the risks associated with a severe weather event during this case study exercise at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) student conference.

Held just prior to the AMS meeting, the two-day conference cost just $25 to attend and drew over 800 undergraduates and graduate students from across the globe. The stimulating lineup of talks, discussions, and case studies addressed topics including extreme weather events, national climate assessment, and the overall weather enterprise.

In light of the theme, "Opportunities in the New Job Climate and Beyond," events at the conference focused on professional development and explored life in academia as well as the private and public sectors. At a two-hour evening reception, students dressed as if being interviewed, juggling small plates of appetizers while speaking with professionals. The event was partly an academic forum of graduate programs and partly a job fair.

Exhibitors included companies such as Northrup Grumman, which attends every year looking for graduates with BS, MS, or PhD degrees. Graduate programs in atmospheric sciences came from across the country. Private weather enterprises such as AccuWeather were there, as were government agencies such as NASA's space weather unit and the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences at Howard University in Washington, DC. Most of the organizations and some of the universities were recruiting for summer internships as well.

Mark Benoit, a recent graduate of Texas A&M University in College Station, told me that he attended the student conference last year when he was unsure about whether to enter the workforce or apply for graduate school. His experience at the meeting convinced him to try his hand at research. He found a research project that ultimately led him to apply for graduate programs, and this year he was looking at schools at the fair.

On the morning of the second day, keynote speaker Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, spoke about career opportunities in government. He highlighted the skills important for advancing a career in meteorology, including technical skills, communication skills, and learning skills. He also mentioned the importance of being willing and able to work with others. During subsequent breakout sessions, panelists emphasized the benefits of training in the physical sciences or engineering. They encouraged students interested in the field of meteorology to take on research experiences as undergraduates.

The conference wrapped up with a vibrant poster session that was many students' first experience presenting research. AMS really demonstrated its commitment to the next generation of scientists and managers by supporting and participating in such a great gathering of students embarking on exciting career paths. //

About AMS

The American Meteorological Society promotes the advancement of the atmospheric and related sciences for the benefit of society.

Founded in 1919, AMS has a membership of about 14,000 professionals, students, and weather enthusiasts. AMS publishes 11 atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic science journals in print and online, sponsors a dozen conferences annually, and offers numerous programs and services.

In late 2013 AMS became a Member Society of the American Institute of Physics, home to the Society of Physics Students. This means that undergraduate SPS members can now receive free membership in AMS when they join or renew their membership. For details, see

Next up

The next AMS meeting and associated student conference will take place January 4–8, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona. Watch the AMS website for more information,

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