So what are your plans?

2008-07-20 23:01:07.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

Working on the summit, I get a lot of questions. The most common are “Where’s your cat?” or “What’s the weather doing up there?” Sometimes they are bizarre like “Where are the Presidents faces (they think we are Mount Rushmore)?” or “What do you guys eat?” But no matter the question, I always remember, there is no such thing as an incorrect question because if one person is asking it, odds are there is bound to be another wondering the same thing. Out of all the questions though, there is one that kind of irritates me more than any other and that is: “So what are your plans after this?”

It is a simple questions and a legitimate one for up here but it always makes me feel like I am being asked, “So, what are you going to do when you grow up?” It is also one of those questions that most would never ask a professional at any other job. I can’t imagine going up to my dad’s coworkers in the fire department and asking them what their plans were after they were done firefighting. Or going to my former professors and asking them what their plans were after teaching. The only time I might ask the “So what are you plans after this?” question is when people were close to retiring or have announced they are leaving for another job. But then it gets me wondering, why am I being asked this question to begin with?

Is it my generation that makes people ask when I am leaving? I have read that my generation is known as the boomerang generation, the echo generation, and generation me. Is it the media’s labeling that causes older generations to ask this question because they read or hear that my generation is more likely to hop from job to job in search of quick wealth? Possibly, but I trace the questioning back to the internet and the very thing you are reading.

The internet brings connection and, at times, dependency on information that just a few years ago, had to be read in magazines or books or heard on the television or telephone. Now, with a few clicks, you can get our weather, our forecasts, our forums, our job opening information, or any of our other various postings. With our comments on the front page, you read on an almost daily basis, our life on the summit. And from time to time, you read about another employee leaving to pursue other adventures or careers. And when we announce another person leaving, it takes what was once something internal and makes it public. And to our readers over the past few years, it does appear that we cannot keep employees for extended periods of time. After being asked what my plans are after this on pretty much a weekly basis, I decided to delve into the employment history a bit more to see if we are staying shorter or not.

We have employment history dating from 1932-2000 which is currently being updated to present. On this list, we have months and years that people were hired and left. So I quickly went through and counted the number of months/years people were employed here. I then put this information in fraction form into a spreadsheet and created a histogram of time spent here along with an average people were here for. But, it should be noted that since our list is in the process of getting an update, my numbers are not concrete or finalized by any means. Also, since I did a quick scan, I may have been off by a month or two for some people. Also, the list did not reflect if the employment was consecutive or off and on for a number of years like I know some have done. One example would be Jim Salge coming back to work a few weeks this year or our summit manager Ken Rancourt who has worked for us in some capacity doing observations for 28 years. They may have only worked one week in that month but on the sheet it will appear they were here for a month.

So what did I find? The shortest stint that I know of is a shift of one week. The longest stint I found was 19 years although I think once the list is updated, Ken’s tenure here may beat that. The average time of employment of the 140 employees listed from 1932 to 2000 is 1.98 years (or roughly 2 years). But, that is purely an average of everyone, when broken down, it goes like this: 80 worked here a year or less, 23 worked here 1-2 years, 16 worked here 2-3 years, 6 worked here 3-4 years, 7 worked here 4-5 years and 8 worked here more than 5 years. So, when put into the bins of a histogram, one year or less is the more realistic tenure or people up here. And to the statement of “Well, your tenures up there being so short must be a recent thing;” that is not the case. In fact, when graphed, it is a very Gaussian (or bell shaped) curve. The longest stints, for the most part, were in the late 60s to early 80s with the shortest being on either side of that. With my 2-3 years here, I am already working longer than a majority of those in the past have worked here. So what are my plans? I will let you know when I know.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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