A Conference for Students, by Students

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A Conference for Students, by Students

Student volunteers plan American Meteorological Society Student Conference


Josh Alland, Univ. at Albany, State Univ. of NY
Kristy Carter,  Univ. of SC in Columbia
Aryeh Drager,  Colorado State Univ. in Fort Collins

Matthew Miksch of Iowa State University presents his research to attendees of the 15th Annual AMS Student Conference. Photo courtesy of AMS.

Meteorology can be an underappreciated career option for undergraduates in physics and related disciplines. Meteorologists aren’t just forecasters, broadcasters, or academics; they span a diverse field with many different sectors and job opportunities.

As a student, a great way to get exposure to meteorology is to attend the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Student Conference. Intended for undergraduate and graduate students, the conference is organized by students who have attended the conference previously and want to give back to their fellow classmates and colleagues.

In January 2016, just before the 96th AMS Annual Meeting, over 700 students joined us in New Orleans for two jam-packed days of high-profile speakers and interactive sessions students wouldn’t otherwise get to experience at their own colleges and universities.

The conference featured a career and graduate school fair, a résumé workshop with direct feedback from professionals in the field, and an integrated warning team workshop where participants got to put themselves in the decision-making shoes of a broadcaster, forecaster, or emergency manager. It also featured panel sessions for attendees to explore different sectors of meteorology, plenty of networking activities where students could expand their professional circles and form new collaborations, and a poster session where students could share their research with professionals and each other.

As co-chairs of the AMS Student Conference, we and the rest of the AMS Student Conference Planning Committee spend much of our year creating the agenda and finding speakers across all sectors: severe storms, fire weather, tropical weather, instrumentation, satellites, clean energy, broadcasting, and everything in between! Planning a conference is a challenging, yet rewarding, experience. In working behind the scenes to put together the conference, we spend a lot of time talking with potential speakers, which helps build our own networks and allows for collaborations and experiences we wouldn’t have otherwise formed within our home institutions. Being part of the AMS Student Conference Planning Committee and attending the AMS Student Conference is a fantastic way to meet colleagues and make lifelong friends from around the globe. These relationships also enable us to help connect students to notable professionals in the field.

Individually, each of us has benefited from our attendance and experience with the AMS Student Conference.

Please consider joining AMS and attending a future AMS Student Conference. As our testimonials show, you have no idea where your career might end up. The professionals and students you meet at the conference could shape your future in ways you never would have expected. You never know—one day you might find yourself helping to plan a future conference for the next generation of students! //

Professionals critique student resumes at the Student Conference Resume Workshop during the 15th Annual AMS Student Conference. Photo courtesy of Josh Alland.

Aryeh is nearing the completion of his M.S. in atmospheric science at Colorado State University:

“When I attended my first AMS Student Conference, I had just finished my undergraduate degree in engineering physics. The AMS Student Conference opened my eyes to the many different sectors and career paths within atmospheric science and meteorology, and it gave me a chance to ask questions and get advice from experts in fields that weren’t well represented at my undergraduate institution. The understanding of the field that I got at the AMS Student Conference reinforced my decision to pursue graduate school and helped me understand how my field of interest, tropical meteorology, fit within the bigger picture.”

 Kristy is currently finishing up her M.S. in geography at the University of South Carolina:

“When I first attended the AMS Annual Meeting in January 2011, I was overwhelmed by the diversity of speakers and possible career paths. Continued attendance at the conference and increased involvement with the society has helped me navigate from my current research on snow and avalanches in southern Alaska to my next adventure, which will begin this summer. I’ll be jumping into a co-major Ph.D. in meteorology and wind energy science, engineering, and policy at Iowa State University. ‘Keep your options open and be daring enough to try something new.’ This is something that was said to me at my first AMS Student Conference and now, six years later, I sit here thankful for the diverse set of skills developed while traversing through a multitude of meteorological sectors.”

Josh is currently a Ph.D. student in atmospheric science at the University at Albany, State University of New York: 

 “I met my graduate school advisor while attending the AMS Student Conference in 2013 as an undergraduate. She was one of the speakers at the conference, and although I was shaking with nervousness when I handed her my résumé, she told me later, after applying to study with her in graduate school, that the interaction allowed her to put a face with the name on the graduate school application.” 

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