My time at the National Center for Atmospheric Research

I’ve learned something new at every job I’ve had. The last nine months have been no exception.

So much happened in my time at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). I applied and got into graduate school. I made fantastic friends. I traveled, lots for work, some for pleasure. I hiked like a madman. And at the end, I learned lots of lessons, lost touch with myself, and fell in love with another state.

Its been an enlightening 9 months. Now heres some of my takeaways from my work at NCAR.

First of all, heres how I got into NCAR. In October of 2018 I went to a small conference, and watched a presentation that my bosses gave. I was lucky enough to be friends with someone who was having them over for dinner. I kept in touch with them after that dinner via email. Four months later I asked for help finding an internship at NCAR. They had a spot open for a job, and in August I started.

I accepted the job without blinking. I was told I would be working with the GIS team and there were some projects I could assist with. I didnt ask many questions, and if I had I dont know what responses I would have gotten as this was the first time the team I was entering had someone like me hired.

a well organized notebook that carried me through the past 9 months

Once I was there, I participated in projects big and small. Academic publications and large scale. Easy and difficult. I saw the limit to what you can acheive in research with a bachelors, and that made me all the more sure that going back to graduate school was the next step for me.

So now lets get to the good stuff- lessons I learned in this research lab that I think EVERYONE can benefit from.

  1. CC’ing is important and a lowkey sign of respect.
  2. Stick to a logical naming scheme and storage method the SECOND you start a project
  3. Eating with your coworkers makes the day exponentially better
  4. Confirm everything with an email.
  5. Say when you need more or less work.
  6. Voice good ideas immediately, dont let them sit in your head.
  7. Decorate your office.
  8. Keep track of the work you are doing. Write a summary every month, a work log where you can track where things are and what has been done
  9. SET GOALS. FREQUENTLY. Check back in on those goals every month or so. Inform your boss or superiors of those goals and see what they can do to help.
Hey look! A thing I made!

I am trying not to have any regrets. Hindsight is always 20/20. Upon reflection I made mistakes which I could have easily avoided with a little persepctive or advice. Experiences are easy to critique once they are over, and I have done a lot of critiquing.

Dont let all of this reflection give the impression that I didnt love NCAR. It was AWESOME. I think, however, because I thought it was so awesome, and I was SO intimidated, I held my tongue too much. This brings me to my final takeaway, and perhaps the largest:

You got the job, you deserve to work there, you deserve to have your voice be heard, and you should always see yourself as a valuable no matter how lucky you feel to have gotten the job in the first place.

My magical little mapping nook!

I’ll step down from my little soap box now! Please reach out to me if you have any questions about NCAR or working in research in general. I’ll leave you with a quote from Walter Orr Roberts, one of the founding scientists of NCAR.

“I have a very strong feeling that science exists to serve human betterment and improve human welfare.” -Walter Orr Roberts

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