Fresh AJ Interview: How to Pivot outside of Meteorology—Part 116 Nov , 2011 | 0
Meet Matt Mosbacher. Matt has been a meteorologist throughout most of his career. Within meteorology, he has moved from Voyage Analysis for ships, to Aviation meteorology for private pilots, and to the Private consulting world…where he forecasted the weather for clients that operate roads, bridges, transportation, utilities, and other sectors. However, just recently he decided to pivot outside of meteorology into another field—software analytics.
In my previous post, I discussed what things you can do if you (hate your meteorology job). I think Matt has a great perspective for many mid level career professionals that want a change…or even want out! He also offers great advice for those looking to get into private weather consulting.
Before we get into why Matt pivoted outside of meteorology…let’s take a deeper look into his meteorology career. In Part 1 of Fresh AJ’s interview with Matt, here’s what Matt has to say about his inspiration for weather and the private consulting world:
Hey Matt, thanks for giving me the opportunity to interview you. Can you let our readers know what inspired you to become a meteorologist?
I don’t know if I can attribute it to any one thing, but I’ve always had an eye on the sky and been fascinated by the way that weather works. My father is a Commercial Pilot, and used to share harrowing tales of flying through thunderstorms and such, which probably had something to do with my inspiration.
But there are a few particular storm events that stick out in my mind, like a severe thunderstorm I encountered while visiting family in Pennsylvania, it produced 3″ golf-ball sized hail. I haven’t seen anything quite that impressive since.
How did you get your first weather job?
My first job after college was with Applied Weather Technology in Sunnyvale, CA. I simply applied to a job-board posting, and was lucky enough to land the interview, which ended up going quite well. However, the job hunt began months in advance while I was still in college, with a series of internships in progressively more involved roles in meteorology.
Before graduation, I had already worked for 6 months at a TV station producing the nightly weather-segment and spent 4 months in Anchorage, AK working for the National Weather Service. These positions really paved the way for me as an entry-level employee, since I was coming out of school ready to apply my knowledge with limited training-time required.
I was willing to go just about anywhere to get that key internship position, and ultimately it unlocked the doors to a full-time position once I finished school. It wasn’t a direct path to the job market, but it made my resume look more appealing.
Tell us about the Private Consulting world? The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.
Private Consulting is the challenging and competitive side of weather, but there is also tremendous room for growth in this sector.
The GOOD: Usually these are small 1-2 person teams of individuals, or small companies, which often afford the meteorologist more flexibility in schedule, put you in direct contact with your customers, and enable you to establish credibility with people who really rely on your expertise.
The BAD: As is often the case with small companies/partnerships, things like health insurance, and retirement benefits, etc can be woefully lacking and/or absent altogether. Consulting in meteorology can be a difficult task at times if your customers do not understand the inherent uncertainties that exist in weather forecasting. Unfortunately many feel that if they are paying for a forecast it should be perfect, which is just not always possible.
THE UGLY: We as professionals in the science understand these uncertainties; but when your (and your client’s) paycheck hangs in the balance over an uncertain forecast, there can be some tangible fiscal backlash to a poor forecast outcome, that can sometimes be ugly.
Consulting really then comes down to being an effective communicator, and an advocate for your customer’s best interests. Whether it is protecting assets, or trading shares, or advising evasive actions; the consulting meteorologist often thinks less about the weather, and more about how the expected weather could affect his/her customer.
How would you advise an entry level meteorology graduate to get a job with a private consulting firm? What do they need to do to stand out?
Coming straight out of school it can be tough to land the consulting job, since many of the companies out there are small, and have limited time/budget to devote to training. First, I would suggest starting before leaving school; apply for internships, even if the consulting group you are interested in isn’t posting any. If you have the luxury of being able to work 1-2 days each week, for a few hours even, ask if you can sit in on shifts and learn by watching.
In order to get that job straight out of school, you are going to need some form of experience. Second, think critically about areas of the economy that are weather-impacted, and learn as much as you can about these industries. Ultimately to be a consultant you need to speak the ‘language’ of your client’s world, and be familiar with their problems. If you can offer expertise in weather, with a bit of background in some weather-impacted industry, you quickly become more attractive to your perspective employers.
What is a typical average salary of a meteorologist working for a Private Consulting weather company? Entry level vs Senior?
The salary question is one that most all of us want to know, but it is probably the toughest one to answer, because it varies so widely, especially in the consulting-world. My advice is to not expect a whole lot getting started. It’s a sad reality, but really making 30-35k out of school would be considered ‘high end’ unless you are in an inflated market space like NYC or SF.
The upshot in the consulting world is that if you can prove your worth, and consult in a high-value market-space, the ceiling for earning is much higher than in comparable meteorology jobs (ie. NWS). The path of advancement largely depends on your performance and how much savings you are able to provide your customers.
Senior Consulting Meteorologists often start their own companies as they can make more as a stand-alone entity, often upwards of six-figure salaries, but again it all depends on your clients and performance.
In Part 2 of Matt’s Interview with FreshAJ, we’ll take a deeper look at what made Matt pivot outside of meteorology. Stay tuned!