Follow Your Passion, The Rest Will Fall Into Place
2019-09-04 06:52:05.000 – Jay Broccolo, Weather Observer/Meteorologist
For this blog post, I’m going to take a different route. Often times, I write something sciency about some weather phenomena, process, or something regarding the atmosphere and its interconnectedness with the entirety of the Biosphere. This time, I’m going to share something a bit more personal. It’s been a quick and extremely rewarding past 8 months working here at the Observatory and I want to write about how I got here. It’s a bit of a weird path, but at the end I think it’ll make sense. I recently passed the METAR exam and in my excitement and the long drive back from Gray, Maine, I did a lot of thinking. I suppose the overall theme I want to convey here is to figure out what you are passionate about and follow it. I am passionate about the natural world, in particular, natural processes of the Earth, which is why this is relevant to the Obs.
I was not a very good student in high school. I was well behaved, for the most part. I talked a lot, shifted around a lot, fell asleep in class, occasionally did my homework, and had no idea what I was doing. I received decent grades, but I know I could have done much better. I felt that when I needed it, I could learn it then. I wanted to be outside doing things, and learn from watching. There were things I loved doing and being a part of, but I wasn’t sure why. I went to college cause that’s what you were supposed to do. I never had any intention of going when I was in school, that’s for sure, but when senior year came and everyone else was doing it, I felt like I was supposed to. I went for a couple of years, switched my major a few times, and did a whole bunch of things that when I look back at, wonder why I ever did. It actually makes me laugh sometimes. Anyway, I still had no idea what I was doing. One of my closest friends and I sat down one day at the beach and decided we were going to take a leave of absence from university and move out to Boulder, Colorado. We did just that with no job and no place to live. We figured it out though and it would later prove to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
While in Boulder I did more of things I loved doing, which essentially, was anything that involved the outdoors. I spent hours and hours in the Flatirons, watching the birds fly in the ravines, the clouds descending over the peaks, thunderstorms that formed on the lee side of the Front Range. These questions then led me to wonder why the mountains were here and not there and what they were made of. One question just led to another while I was just listening and observing. It was quiet, relaxing and inspiring. One day up in the Flatirons, it clicked. I anxiously hiked down and talked to my friend about heading back east to study Geology. He was cool with it too. Apparently, he also had an epiphany. Fast forward a couple years, I graduated and got a job with the first company that reached out to me.
Schlumberger contacted me through a recruiter. I was so impressed with the professionalism and everything they had to offer and I needed experience. It was an exciting job that payed very well. I worked on oil rigs for a while as a Mudlogger/Analyst, got that experience and moved on. I felt unfulfilled and wanted a change. I was still very curious about the atmosphere and its processes, the whys, the how’s and the when’s. So I searched all around and found a geology internship at Mount Rainier National Park that also included taking care of their weather instruments and recording all the data required amongst other geologic focused studies. I landed the internship and found out that I got the position because of my experience with various instruments from the oil rigs. There are more instruments on oil rigs than anywhere I have ever seen and we had to record all the data from every instrument into the Masterlog which would be correlated to a depth and rock formation within the borehole. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting how I got the position.
After the internship, I headed back east, again, and got a job with a geotechnical engineering firm as Geotechnical Technician/Junior Engineer while I waited for the time to apply to grad school for Atmospheric Science. I again learned a whole set of skills and expanded upon my knowledge base while working all sorts of projects from runway extensions to new building construction. For the past few years I was in a relationship that lasted through all these changes and I wanted to be closer to her as well as study abroad in the UK. It was marginally cheaper, a great university, and another new experience. I was accepted to the University of Leeds and yet again, I was curious as to why I was accepted. I had assumed it was because I was foreign and they wanted the full tuition for non EU residents. Apparently, I was wrong, although, I still feel that may have had something to do with it. So, of course, I asked. I was told that when they received my application they were quite interested because they had never seen anyone with such a background. Living abroad and attending Uni in a different country was a challenge. Yes, the language was the same (for the most part), but the culture and education systems are not. I faced some tough life events while abroad and was away from my family and friends, but it certainly made me a stronger individual. After I graduated, I came home to Rhode Island and spent the next year applying to hundreds of jobs. I wrote hundreds of cover letters and made multiple resumes/CVs to see what grabbed people attention and finally landed the winter internship here at the Obs.
A position had just opened as one of the former observers on this shift was heading over the NH Emergency Center. I applied for it and was awarded the position. I was ecstatic! I had my dream job at last. It took me almost a full decade to get here and I actually, for possibly the first time, truly felt proud of myself. Then it was on to study for the METAR test, which I was super nervous for. I’ve never been a great test taker and you only get 3 chances to pass, after that you can never take it again. Needless to say, but, that’s nerve racking. I quickly discovered that this test is similar to standardized testing in the sense that it’s more about understanding how to take the test and realizing the tricks to it. METAR stands for METeorological Aerodrome Reports, essentially the code and standards for reporting the happenings of the atmosphere for aviation. The info is also disseminated and input into the forecast models that we use to give you wonderful people our forecasts for the Whites, along with our experience and knowledge. It was so foreign to me when I started, I just familiarized myself over a couple months and then started studying. There is a qualifier for every weather phenomena and remembering them all took some time. The less than or equal to for distance qualifications for obscurations like fog and intensity of precipitation amongst others. Anyway, this is getting too long and I need to bring this all together.
The whole point of me explaining my background is to present an example of following your passion. Throughout most of my life and young adulthood, I had no idea what I was doing. I probably still don’t to be honest, but one thing has always been consistent. Yes, I caved into to peer pressure, tried to get involved in things because I thought the people were cool and I wanted to be like them, chased people and things all over the place. I wanted to be liked and be part of something bigger than myself. Feel part of something. It wasn’t until recently, AFTER I graduated from graduate school with my Masters and went through all the hardship and troubles (I didn’t mention cause who wants to hear that, right?!) that I realized it was all necessary and it led me here, back in New England and part of an organization that shares my deep passion for natural processes. The whole time, that I was chasing people, relationships, things, experiences, and new sights, I had one thing in common that’s connect them all. I was conducting a life experiment while following a passion of mine that I didn’t even realize I had. I strayed, wobbled, and circled around my passion but it was always at the focal point of my decisions, whether I was conscious of it or not. I made lots of mistakes, but like in a science experiment every time I failed or figured out I didn’t like something, I became closer to my goal. When I was tired and beaten down, I still had that passion. I tend to procrastinate, like I said earlier, I was pretty bad student in the beginning. I wouldn’t put the time in to study and do the work that was necessary. If I struggled, I gave up. I noticed that, that was not the case if I was interested in something though. I would hyper focus on it and no matter how much work it took I was happy to do it.
To bring this to a close, follow your passion, it will guide you and inform you. It’s the big picture. It will get you through the hard times. You may stray, but you’ll find your way back. If I didn’t follow my passion. I’m pretty sure I would be in a much different situation and most likely, not very happy. Following my passion took me on lots of adventures and gave me the crazy background I have become proud of. AND, guess where I learned all of this. I came to this conclusion by observing nature and the world around me. After all, most of things we engineer and create comes from the natural world. We observe, and then backwards engineer it to then build it ourselves and maybe even a bit better.
As always, thanks for reading! I hope, that at the very least, this made sense. I really hope a few of you readers, can take something out of this. It’s a crazy world out there with a whole lot of distractions.
Jay Broccolo, Weather Observer/Meteorologist