Meteorology majors, graduates of the University of Valparaiso, join thousands of other graduates across the country to become meteorologists working for television stations, private companies, universities and the National Meteorological Service.
Mike Bardou, Class of 2003, is one of many Valpo meteorology alumni working at the National Weather Service Office in Romeoville, Illinois. in hospitals and universities. It provides direct weather information for public events and helps establish the relationship between the weather service and its partners.
“We are several [alumni] working at the National Weather Service Office in Romeoville. Over the years, several forecasters have followed one another. They have been forecasters, chief forecasters, hydrologists and other positions in the weather service, âBardou said.
Other alumni work in different branches of the National Weather Service around Valpo, such as Lincoln, Illinois, Milwaukee, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Cleveland. Or one of the many other offices across the United States.
Chicago’s Center Weather Service Unit (CSWU) provides direct weather support to the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] in Aurora, Illinois. The meteorologist in charge of CWSU is Jamie Enderlen, a Valpo alumnus and previously a forecaster at the National Weather Service in the Romeoville office, âsaid Bardou.
Bardou explained how Valpo helps his meteorology students find their respective career paths.
âWhen I was at Valpo the emphasis was on all aspects of meteorology and helping students do what they wanted to do in terms of which direction they wanted to go on the field. So there was a pretty good operational or forecast presence, I thought and insisted, which was good for me, âBardou said.
Bardou thinks what he learned at Valpo prepared him well for his career.
âIt has helped me strengthen my career path and prepare myself to be able to step into it and have a career in forecasting between skills and knowledge,â Bardou said. “The experiences we get from outdoor experience, internships and storm chasing have helped me be in a good position to find a job.”
For current students interested in working for the National Weather Service, Bardou recommended that they speak to their advisers.
âThe most important thing is to sit down with your advisers or teachers and talk about your weather interests,â Bardou said. âThink about these things as soon as you canâ¦ It took me until the junior or senior year to figure out what I wanted. Work with your teachers, and they can put you in touch with people from the National Weather Service, alumni.
Bardou also encouraged students to seek career experiences while in college.
âBeing exposed to the weather service in one way or another and, in many cases, having to wait between your junior and senior years to complete an internship. Do at least one shadow job and apply for volunteer positions, and there are paid positions for students, âBardou said.
He also explained different ways for students to gain experience in meteorology.
âThe weather service app looks for your communication and forecasting experience with some things specific to the weather service, perhaps taking observations,â Bardou said.
Bardou offered some advice to current meteorology students.
âThe more experience you gain outside of the classroom, the better opportunities you’ll get later on,â Bardou said. “In more general terms, think about research, broadcasting, the operational side and something less directly related to weather but involving weather.”