Career Day: Meteorologist

Tell us a little about yourself and about your job?

My name is Amy Freeze. I currently live in New York City and I am a meteorologist for Eyewitness News on WABC Television. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University, a Bachelor of Science degree from Mississippi State University, and a Master’s degree from University of Pennsylvania in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Stormwater Management. I was one of the first women in the world to get the Broadcast Meteorology certificate which requires both an exam to test knowledge, and a review board certification process.

I have been doing the weather for almost 20 years, moving from state to state (8 in all) to follow my career. I am the mother of four children and I am a nine-time marathoner.

What does your job entail?

As a meteorologist I forecast the weather for the tri-state area around New York City, which includes Southeast New York state, Long Island, NY (right in the Atlantic), parts of New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Because television news is broadcast around the clock I often work strange hours, for example, sometimes I go in at 3 o’clock in the morning and sometimes I don’t get home until midnight. My schedule can vary a lot and of course when there is serious or threatening weather in our area we are required to cover that news as well. Weather broadcasters prepare our own forecast data and present it for about 3 ½ minutes on live television without a written script, the whole thing is ad lib. When I go to work I use satellite and radar data to come up with my forecast prediction. Each meteorologist is in charge of their own forecast, so while we work together to come up with a general consensus we are responsible for our own work, there is not a separate meteorologist who does the science work we present on. It’s all us.

Why did you want to become a meteorologist?

I majored in communications and was working at a television station as a writer when the station needed a weathercaster; my last name is Freeze, they thought that was fun and catchy for the weathercaster and gave me the assignment. At that time I decided to go back to school and learn the trade of meteorology.

My last name drew me to the weather. Some people call it fate, some people call it serendipity, but there actually is a name for it: normative determinism is when your name fits your occupation.

What kind of education/training is required?

As I mentioned earlier, I have a B.A., a B.S., and a Master’s degree which are progressively more specialized in my field.  In order to work in television, you must be a good communicator and learn how to be comfortable in front of the camera, but you also have to be pretty disciplined because of the sometimes crazy hours and necessary requirements to keep up with the job.

Having a flexible personality and a lot of curiosity also helps, and a sense of humor is a major  plus, almost anything can happen on live television and you just have to roll with it.

What kind of job opportunities are there in your field?

Broadcast television in general is very competitive, but with the proper education, a lot of determination and a little luck you can have a great career; every town and community has a television station, gain experience there and work your way up to larger stations.

I have had some fun opportunities as part of my job. In trying to better tell a weather story I have been able to do many adventurous activities such as scuba diving, skiing, and even riding on a yacht!

What is the best part of your job?

I get to meet new people all the time, and because I study and analyze the weather, which changes constantly, my job is a little bit different every day.

What is the worst part of your job?

The news never sleeps and you have to be prepared for the sometimes grueling schedule: nights, weekends, holidays, the news is on every single day of the year.

What’s the work/family/life balance like?

Sometimes the hours require a lot of flexibility and even some sacrifice of family and life balance. I have missed a lot of vacations and I have not always lived near my sisters, parents, and other family; it can be challenging to always miss the people that you love. I have learned to manage my time carefully and prioritize what is most important.

My philosophy has always been to not sacrifice my life priorities for work priorities. So far, this philosophy has worked out for me; every success I’ve had in my personal life has usually transferred to success in my professional world as well.

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?

A lot of people think working in broadcast television is glamorous and it just isn’t. As a professional on television I must look like I am put together, hair and make-up looking perfect, but without distracting from the message. I am in charge of selecting (and buying) my own wardrobe and I must do my own hair and make-up for the broadcast while also analyzing all the meteorological data and finalizing what I’m going to say on live TV.

What stereotypes or criticisms have you faced as an educated Mormon woman with her own career?

Ironically, it seems other women are the most critical of each other: those who work vs.  those who stay at home vs. those who balance both. Sometimes we are so quick to criticize one another that we forget that each role comes with its own challenges. I think the way we move through life, whether that is working for our families inside the home only, and/or managing a job away from home, are only small complexities of time management and logistical execution. What is important is how we do these things on a moral and ethical scale. Are we living our best lives inside the home? Are we living our best lives while working mothers? Are we living our best lives where we prepare for these roles in general?

What spiritual guidance have you felt as you have pursued your education and developed your career?

Personal prayer and considerable thought and meditation are essential to helping come to conclusions about what choices to make. I also have found great comfort in reaching out to those that I love and admire and helping make decisions like my parents and my bishop and even reviewing my patriarchal blessing.

Any other thoughts, advice, or stories you’d like to share with other women?

I have never found a great or permanent balance of career and family, what I have been able to do is prioritize the essential thing at any given moment. There

are times when my job must come first, and there are times when my family is the number one priority, and there are times when school or church take a turn as the most important for the moment. Recognizing those critical moments and being able to focus on them is the secret to my success and ability to manage the ups and downs that life will inevitably toss my way.

There are always people who will make more money than us, there are always people who will see more successful than us. But if we can achieve our very best selves based on our individual opportunities and goals I consider that a success.

One Comment on “Career Day: Meteorologist

  1. Amy – thank you for sharing your very visible profession! Reading about the complex and demanding aspects of a career as a meteorologist was enjoyable. I am surprised your station doesn’t provide a hair/make-up/wardrobe department considering image and presentation are integral to ratings. Fortunately, seeing your photo, they have nothing to worry about; however, having such a department would support you and free up some of the responsibilities you have to juggle while analyzing the weather data.

    When my daughter was young, the fury of the tornado in The Wizard of Oz captivated her so much that she began to study weather and the work of storm chasers. Her passion for weather is still intense and her college major is an earth science. I have e-mailed a link to her so she can enjoy your article as well. Best wishes as you continue to integrate your family and career with other life goals.

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