Next week, The GLOBE Program expects to see 250 members of the GLOBE community in attendance at the 17th Annual GLOBE Partner Meeting. GLOBE partners, scientists, teachers, students, and other community members from 27 countries will travel to Maryland for the weeklong meeting.
The excitement leading up to a conference like the GLOBE Annual Meeting reminds me of my first scientific conference that I attended when I was an undergraduate student. I can only imagine how the 63 GLOBE students that will attend the Annual Meeting next week must feel!
I remember how overwhelmed I felt by the number of talks one could attend and the number of people speeding up and down the halls trying to make it to as many of their selected talks as possible. Beyond the scientific presentations of that particular meteorology conference, I was also amazed to see the vast number of organizations represented in the conference exhibit hall. From private instrument manufacturing companies to big name national research labs to contractors, I realized my understanding of the careers and opportunities in the world of meteorology was only in its infancy.
Luckily, I went to this meeting accompanied by other students from my school, a few with more conference and professional experience to show me the ropes. As we walked around the exhibit hall, one of my colleagues seemed to know everyone! People greeted her as we passed, and many stopped to talk to her. The networking connections I saw her engage with that day even helped me get started on my career path.
Because I recognized that summer research internships were a very important way to get vital experience for joining the scientific workforce, my ambition for the following summer was to do a research internship. I had my sights set on participating in a certain premier summer research experience, which was at a school very well known for severe storms research (exactly what I was interested in). I was also sure I wanted to attend this institution for graduate school. Even so, my well-connected colleague encouraged me to seek out a few other opportunities for a summer research experience and graduate school, and even helped me navigate around the booths in the exhibit hall to gather pamphlets about each. After the conference, I applied to all of the programs I found that week, plus to the one I had my heart set on.
This networking experience led my career path in a completely different direction from what I originally thought it would be, since I ended up choosing to participate in a different summer research experience and I attended one of her suggested graduate schools. I am very happy with my choices, which I feel have broadened my horizons much beyond where I would be if I had stuck to my original plan.
Almost 15 years from that fateful conference, I am now a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and hold a split appointment as a scientist with The GLOBE Program. My fairly unique split appointment is yet another example of the power of networking. As I started my scientific research career after obtaining my Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science, I discussed my interests with many colleagues until finally I made the connection that gave me this opportunity to pursue my interests in both scientific research as well as science education.
I am grateful for having many connections with people in my field and believe that similar networking opportunities, such as the GLOBE Annual Meeting and networks like the GLOBE International Scientist Network (GISN), can help scientists, educators, and students in the GLOBE community connect and contribute to the vision of GLOBE.
So whether you are a GLOBE student, scientist, teacher, or community member, and whether you are attending next week’s GLOBE Annual Meeting or another conference down the road, keep in mind the benefits that networking with your colleagues can have on your career. And also remember that there are plenty of young me’s out there in need of the eye-opening guidance that networking can provide.
Traveling to the GLOBE Annual Meeting next week? Upload your “I do GLOBE” video here.