Colin Raymond (2014), interned at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory:
"Through the Hollings program, I spent the summer of 2013 at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, NJ. It's one of the most well-known dynamics labs in the country -- researchers there are funded by NOAA to work on understanding the fundamentals of atmospheric motions and on designing models to implement that understanding. I was one of three Hollings students, and we were all given wide flexibility but little guidance in choosing summer research projects, so it's best to come into the internship with some ideas in hand. My project involved writing IDL scripts to calculate changes in extreme precipitation under several different climate-change scenarios, and doing a literature review to try to put together a theoretical framework to explain the results."
Molly Smith (2014), interned with the NASA Student Airborne Research Program:
"I spent my summer as a participant in NASA's Student Airborne Research Program (SARP), based out of Palmdale, California. This was an amazing program, as we flew five missions in NASA's DC-8 aircraft, collecting atmospheric data anywhere from 12,000 to just 1,000 feet above the ground, and then pursuing independent research projects based on this data. My research was on variation in the observed ratio of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide concentrations across the Los Angeles Basin, and the potential that this ratio might have as an indicator of air quality and pollution levels in urban areas. The eight weeks I spent with SARP were among the most fun I've had in my life, and I definitely recommend this program to anyone interested in field research."
Undergraduate Atmospheric Science majors at Cornell spend their summers interning, volunteering, and conducting research with numerous organizations across the country in both the public and private sectors.
Many students take advantage of of Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). These competitive, NSF-sponsored programs offer the opportunity for students to work with mentors at other Universities, and a chance to spend a summer working on a project which can typically be presented the following winter at the annual AMS National Meeting as a poster or talk. In addition, some students find research internships at national labs, and a host of non-REU programs exist at other institutions. Cornell meteorology students have also been extremely competitive at earning Hollings Scholarships, a prestigious award which helps fund undergraduate educations in the Earth sciences and yields a summer-long research internship at a top national lab or agency.
In addition to research internships, many students pursue experiences in the private sector, sometimes not even directly related to meteorology! A popular summer internship choice involves working with a local broadcast meteorologist in a student's hometown. Some students have also opted to work with private forecasting shops who liaison with the financial or energy industries.
National Weather Service
Students volunteer and intern informally with their local National Weather Service weather forecast office (specifically, Albany and Binghamton), and the NWS also offers a paid internship as part of the Student Career Employment Program (SCEP). These sorts of experiences are great ways to gain an advantage when seeking competitive positions in operational meteorology or forecasting in general.
Some students break the mold entirely and seek internships outside or tangentially-related to meteorology. In the past, students with business minors have spent summers working in the financial sector, while others have worked at other public agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, pursuing both environmental science and public policy.
Finding Your Own Internship
The EAS faculty keep students informed via e-mail on many opportunities, and upperclassmen in the department share their internship experiences with younger students and can help them find exciting opportunities. In addition, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences strongly supports undergraduate internship searches, and the National Science Foundation maintains a searchable list of REU programs. Cornell students are encouraged to network and independently contact people or organizations for whome they'd like to work - most groups are thrilled to hire Cornell students, even if just for a summer internship!