Few students know their upcoming summer plans during Thanksgiving the year before, but Ohio University student Madelynn Zarembka knew exactly where she would be.
Last fall, Zarembka got the call that she had been selected to be a weather intern with Delta Air Lines at their headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia during the summer of 2022.
“It was awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better internship,” she said.
Zarembka, who is a rising senior from Akron, Ohio, majoring in geography-meteorology and earning a certificate in geographic information science at the College of Arts and Sciences, has always seen herself working for an airline. The Delta internship was a dream come true.
On a typical day, Zarembka works a 10-hour shift observing and working alongside Delta’s operational meteorologists. The first task she performs is to familiarize herself with the prevailing weather conditions across the country, then she attends a briefing from many departments to discuss plans for that day.
“You don’t think of it at all as a typical passenger, but the meteorologists here do forecasts for the whole world,” she said.
This internship provided Zarembka with an overview of how dispatchers and meteorologists work together every day to manage aircraft takeoffs and arrivals due to weather conditions.
Follow Zarembka for a day in Delta
“I never really thought about anybody working behind the scenes and all the stuff that’s really going on to get that plane off the ground,” she said. “I learned that there are a huge number of people behind the scenes that you don’t think about at all when you’re just a regular passenger on a plane. It was a really cool experience to be able to witness this and see how many people help.
One of Zarembka’s goals during this internship was to become familiar with writing a terminal aerodrome forecast, or TAF, which is a document of expected weather conditions for a defined period for a specific location. To write them, it uses METAR (Meteorological Terminal Air Report) data.
“Before this internship started, I only knew how to read and decode them,” Zarembka said. “Now I know how to write them and the strategies on how to approach writing them. In a way, writing a TAF is like learning a new language because you have to write code in a certain way. I’ve definitely improved, and the meteorologists here have given me some great advice on how to forecast better and which models you should trust and which you shouldn’t.
While working with Delta, she also earns flight benefits, which allowed her to return home to see her family but also to places she had always wanted to visit before, such as New York and Key West. Working four days and having three days off, she had a summer full of adventures.
She felt that her studies at OHIO had prepared her enormously for the Delta internship. OHIO is one of only two universities in the state to offer meteorology degrees.
“I got to see what I learned in class applied to these real-world situations. It’s an unparalleled experience that Delta has given me this summer,” said Zarembka.
As Zarembka completes her summer internship, she looks forward to her final year on the bricks of Athens. She will serve as president of the Ohio University Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (OUCAMS).
“OUCAMS is why I’ve met so many of my friends that I’ll probably have forever,” she said.
During the academic year, she will also serve as the primary forecaster at Scalia Laboratory, a student-run weather service, and an OHIO Climate and Sustainability Ambassador, promoting a more sustainable campus.
“I look forward to continuing and pursuing my passion for meteorology and the remaining courses I have,” Zarembka said. “I’m looking forward to my last year at OHIO, although it’s sad because it went by so quickly. I will definitely miss OHIO.