Michelle's Blog

Who is Michelle?
Michelle is studying atmospheric science with a focus on wind energy. She hopes to find real-world solutions to environmental issues.


Michelle's College Blog

Finding Opportunities
Feb. 28, 2011

It's the week before spring break here, which is pretty exciting. The few weeks beforehand can be stressful, since it is time for midterm exams. This year hasn't been too bad for me. Most exams fell on different days or weeks. Some people end up having two or three exams in a week, which can be really exhausting!

I'm really excited about spring break because I'll get to relax. Some people go on cruises or other travels, but it can also be fun to hang out in town with friends or family and relax.

Springtime is also usually when you find out about things like summer internships. This can be an exciting or disappointing time. Last year, it was really exciting for me because I found out I had an internship at NASA. This year, it was a disappointing time -- I applied to an advanced study program in Colorado and did not get a position. You can't let these disappointments bring you down for too long. I was pretty upset when I found out, but I realize how competitive positions are.

Although I was disappointed, I also realize that you can't win them all. Everything in terms of internships and jobs are competitive. You may have to face rejection multiple times before an opportunity works out. I had to remind myself of that after hearing the bad news.

I plan to apply for other things in future semesters, and I have made other plans for this summer. This summer, I will still be doing research for the university, so things worked out. If I weren't doing that, I would likely apply for more opportunities. You can never apply for too many opportunities. If something interests you, you should give it a shot. The worst anyone can say is "no," and if they do, you keep looking. There are so many great opportunities out there that getting rejected from one doesn't mean that there aren't other opportunities that are either just as good, or even better, than that one.

When you are in college, work hard, have fun, and always try for the things that interest you. If it doesn't work out one year, try again the next year. When it works out, it will be well worth it!

Projects
Feb. 21, 2011

In college, you often to get to participate in some really exciting projects! One of my professors frequently gives talks on VORTEX 2. VORTEX 2 is a research project where various professional meteorologists, students, professors and professional organizations form groups and go storm chasing over the summer. It is very organized, and usually yields a lot of great information! The groups try to find storms that generate tornadoes and obtain data from them.

Severe weather, such as tornadoes, is extremely interesting. Although many people seek to study tornadoes, in reality, not that much is understood about them. If you have ever been in a severe storm and tornado watches or warnings were issued, you will know that meteorologists know how to spot them, but researchers are trying to improve our knowledge of these systems to provide better information for forecasting.

For those of you who want to know more about this interesting project, visit http://www.vortex2.org/home/. It's a lot of fun browsing the site too! It includes exciting photos taken during the trip, which instruments they used and a blog among other things. Various students, including seniors who just graduated, graduate students and professors from our university were part of the many people and organizations involved in the project.

Keep an eye open in college -- often there are a lot of really interesting things to learn about, and maybe be a part of one day!

Internship Ideas
Feb. 14, 2011

There's a pretty cool site I heard about online that helps you find internships. It's geared to college students and it has searches for internships, tips for interviews, resumes etc. Also, internships are often listed in your department at school. At our school we have a mailing list for both the PAMS (Physical and Mathematical Sciences) and the MEAS (Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) departments. They usually send us information on internships and jobs that come available in our field. This is probably one of the best and easiest resources for your specific field, but it is also good to look for yourself if you are really interested in getting an internship.

There are many websites to help you find internships -- both paid and unpaid -- to get experience that will help you secure the job you want. In an earlier post I told you about NASA internships and how they have many great opportunities for students.

Sometimes you can even get an internship in high school if you are really interested and find an opening. These are harder to obtain, and I've never heard of one being paid, so don't get too discouraged if the internship of your dreams isn't available right away.

Sometimes it is hard to know exactly what you want to do. My first internships were with news stations in the Meteorology department. It's a good field for many people, but I realized it wasn't for me. I don't like being in front of the camera, whereas some people love it and are really good at it. It wasn't until later in college when I started doing undergraduate research and an internship at NASA that I realized research was my dream job.

Internships are a way to feel things out. It can be discouraging sometimes when you aren't sure what you want to do, but keep exploring! There are so many options out there just waiting to be discovered. Maybe you will find your dream internship on the first run, maybe it won't be until many internships later, but trust me when you find it, it will be worth the effort.

Finding Help in Books
Feb. 7, 2011

This week has been more challenging than normal because of make-up work I've had to get done due to missing school for the conference. I ended up missing four days of class due to the timing and location of the conference. I live in North Carolina and the conference was in Seattle, Washington, so the flight was pretty long. I got home pretty late on Friday night!

The experience was definitely well worth it -- it's just been a busier than usual week. I am mostly caught up with school, but need to do some reading for some classes to get completely up to date.

I plan to go through an online tutorial, as well as looking through a book for some of the programs I will be using. I'm using a computer model that works with atmospheric data and is used in research and projects. There are some great online resources to help with this stuff, so I'll be able to catch up with a little extra work on my own.

There are many resources not only online, but at the library and at bookstores. It can be really helpful to find these kinds of books for classes if you want some extra explanations. I know there are many books to help with math and statistics courses, as well as physics and engineering.

It can be discouraging when these classes are difficult, but this is another way to try to deal with it. Many public libraries are well stocked, so you can still use the books without breaking the bank.

Textbooks are already expensive, so looking into public and school libraries is another way to access these materials for free.

I better get off to work on my homework so I can have time for some fun this weekend. Have a great week!