140 Communicating One's Skill Set: Learning to Translate Experiences for Future Employers in Meteorology

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Adam J. Stepanek, Valparaiso Univ., Valparaiso, IN; and T. M. Bals-Elsholz

Valparaiso University’s Department of Geography and Meteorology has been offering an elective course entitled “Professional Perspectives” for approximately 15 years. Career planning provided at the university level does not always reflect the needs of students entering the meteorology/atmospheric science job market, and this course is designed to supplement any external resources. Although the core topics remain similar to the earliest offerings, substantial evolution has occurred due to ever-changing ways in which our students are required to communicate both personally and professionally.

Navigating the path from college student to early career professional is oftentimes quite intimidating and naturally one that has yet to be travelled by the vast majority of our undergraduates. Understanding proper resume writing technique, generating meaningful cover letters, and having impactful interactions in both oral and written format are all covered in considerable depth. With increasingly diverse personal backgrounds, combined with immensely different collegiate encounters and interests, specific focus is given to how to properly evolve these experiences into skills that employers in the physical sciences wish to see from those entering the job market. Additionally, social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn rarely need a grass roots introduction to today’s generation of college students, but recognizing the professional ramifications of such activity has become a critical facet of this course.

Aside from a general outline of how these communicative methods are covered, a discussion of how the course is tailored to the needs of the specific body of students each year is provided. For example, a person planning to apply for a television position in Pocatello, Idaho is provided different guidance than one looking to generate a competitive graduate school statement or another interested in entering the private forecasting sector with a focus on mesoscale applications. Specific discussion on how to streamline the communication of one’s most important, job-relative skills is addressed. A general review of other unique attributes of the course will be provided along with student responses over the past years.

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