When I Grow Up...Becoming A Meteorologist

When I Grow Up...Becoming a Meteorologist - An Interview with Matt Mahler

And here we are! The first installment in the When I Grow Up... career series. First up is Matt Mahler. He is one of those lucky ducks living their dream. He's a meteorologist at a local station here in Oklahoma City, and he's answering some questions about his career, as well as sharing some very helpful advice! Now, let's hear from Matt. 

Matt Mahler, meteorologist

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Believe it or not, as a child I wanted to be a TV weatherman when I grew up. We had one come and talk to our class in first or second grade and ever since then, I've wanted to do that!

How close (or far) is your current career from that dream? I'm living that dream right now! I've been an on-air meteorologist for almost 8 years with 5 of those being in Oklahoma City. 

What is your official job title?  My official job title is the Weekend Morning Meteorologist at News 9. 

Ok, now what does that really mean? It means just what it says! :) The Weekend Morning is my primary on-air shift at News 9. I will fill in on any other shift as needed, such as the weekend evenings or the weekday evenings. 

What is a typical day like? A typical day varies depending on what day it is. When I'm on air, I come in and immediately start working on my forecast. I check the forecast of the meteorologist whose shift was before mine, then check what's going on right now in the state and across the country, then start looking at computer model data to assemble my forecast for the shows. If I'm NOT on air, it could be any number of things, depending on what's happening in the state. If there's active weather, I'm keeping track of any active watches and warnings, storm intensity, etc. If the weather is quiet, I'm getting graphics together for the evening shows and recording forecasts for our radio partners.

How did you end up in this career? I ended up in this career by following my dream of being an on-air meteorologist from grade school. It was tough to follow that dream for so long as the distractions seemed to pile on, but it was worth it. 

What kind of education or training did you complete for this career? My education involved the obvious high school education, which I completed in May 2001. I attended the University of Oklahoma from the fall of 2001 to the spring of 2006 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology and a minor in math with an area of concentration in broadcast journalism. The classes at OU were heavy on math and physics. Some of the hardest material I've ever had to learn! I also interned at KXII-TV in Sherman, Texas and was on-air with OU Nightly, the student-produced newscast at OU.

What advice would you give to someone who wants a similar career?  Some advice I would give to someone wanting to study any kind of science, specifically meteorology, is the following: first, have a PASSION for what you want to do. So many people start in the meteorology program and don't see it through because they're not passionate about it. Second: know your math and physics. Those are the foundation to every single meteorology class. Third: (and this is specifically for those wanting to enter the broadcast meteorology field): intern, intern, intern. The more experience you have before you apply for your first job, the better. Employers LOVE experience.

Do you have any other career dreams? What do you want to be when you grow up? As far as other career dreams, I do like to think about what I would be doing if I wasn't in weather. It would likely involve something with the comic convention circuit, video games, or pop-culture in general. It's in so much of my daily activity as it is, why not make a career out of it?

Any last thoughts or encouragement for others trying to decide what they want to do "when they grow up"?  Pick something you would still do even if you weren't getting paid. Something you're PASSIONATE about. Something that doesn't feel like work. And when you find it, give it your all. 

Thanks again to Matt Mahler for sharing his thoughts on becoming a meteorologist and following your dreams! Next week we'll hear from another lucky person who is doing exactly what they want to be doing. So come back then!