Alice Crutchfield

Day 1

aliceToday after much anticipation I eventually arrived at the RMetS headquarters in Reading after going down various side roads with a rather confused taxi driver. I did not expect the Society to be the grand building it was. It outshone all the other buildings on the street by miles. It was small but beautiful with columns surrounding the number 10 style door. I rang the doorbell and was greeted by a smiling Sue Brown. She welcomed me in and I stepped into the hallway with golden chandeliers suspended from the celiling. I was then introduced to Rachael Fordham and Georgina Lea, who I would be working with for most of the week. We went up to the newly renovated meeting room to discuss my itinerary for the week. Rachael gave me a tour of the society and showed me some of the various departments: communications, ICT, publishing and administration. It was interesting to see how each of the departments work closely alongside each other to help the smooth running of the organization. We worked particularly closely with the ICT department as all of the computers bar my laptop were malfunctioning today! Georgina then showed me how the BBC forecasts weather and the different ways weather information can be displayed. We looked at the weekly outlook and Georgina explained that, although the forecast was partially true, the BBC would make rather a big deal it if it was raining or snowing as those are the types of weather people are more interested in. This meant even if was only raining for an hour overnight, there would still be a rain symbol for that day. We also looked at the pollen count as we both suffer from hayfever! I also noted that the general outlook doesn't tell you when the rain will be or for how long.

I was shown the pressure charts from the Met Office website and how to interpret them. Although they looked confusing at first I soon discovered what all those wiggly lines meant and I was able to give a rough forecast for the day judging on where the fronts were and what the pressure was. This way you can tell more specifically when and where it will rain. After I was shown how to do a forecast, Rachael and I went into town to have some lunch and enjoy the sunny weather I was going to be writing about in my article. We discussed the recent weather and the heatwave we have been having at the moment. I was asked to write an article for the MetLink website on how the heatwave had affected people across the country such as strawberry farmers, festival goers and of course Wimbledon tennis players. I did some research and found some very interesting statistics on strawberry sales and Wimbledon weather history. I even discovered there was an Ice Cream Alliance! After pulling together some interesting figures from various web pages, I wrote about how the British public had been affected by the weather. Naturally, there were lots of articles as we Brits love to talk about the weather! After I finished my article, I started work on my diary for the day which was rather full as I had an exciting first day. Everyone was really friendly to me and I look forward to day number two.

Day 2

Today after a scenic ride on the small train into Reading, I arrived for my second day of work experience. I went to the office which I share with Rachael and Liz and discussed the latest weather. Liz and I talked about the showers we had on Tuesday and how they were set to become heavier as the week went on. She showed me the pressure charts for last night and the next few nights and we compared the predictions to the live information. We noticed there was a cold front approaching us with a band of heavy rain which meant more showers! Liz then explained to me about the Spanish plume. This is a small area of low pressure that is carried north by the anti-clockwise winds, which meant some stormy weather was on the way! There were troughs in front of the cold front which Liz told me would be a fine steady band of showers. Around the low pressure system there were many isobars which mean it is set to be windy too! Later in the week I would be asked to prepare a forecast for the weekend in the Cotswolds as Sue Snellgrove is going camping, so she needs to know if it will be rainy or windy. Let’s hope the low pressure system has passed by then. I then attended a meeting which involved the society’s marketing strategy. They needed to update their exhibition stand and other promotional material. We discussed with a market salesman the best products to use. It was important to consider the target audience – the stand had to appeal from primary school ages to higher education students so it needed to be diverse. The idea of eco-friendly loyalty cards was appealing as they were cost effective and made from recycled materials which would help the environment, which ties in with the society’s ethos.

The society publications were also discussed. A separate club for amateurs and younger people called the Weather Club is going to be launched so it is more appealing to a wider audience as the RMetS club is aimed at professionals and serious enthusiasts. The Weather Club will have a lighter, simpler approach and therefore bright attractive publications and different gifts are needed. It was interesting to see how original the marketing ideas were and how importantly the society considers its marketing approach. This is an important aspect of any company as promotion is what gains the society new members. After the meeting we went into town for lunch and had a leisurely lunch by the canal. When we got back, I started work on a factsheet. People often phone the society with questions on the latest weather, so I prepared a factsheet with statistics on the Icelandic volcano and how volcanoes affect people around the world. After combing through various sources, I found some interesting figures and articles on this and put them together in bullet points for easy access. During this I heard cries of despair from the next office as Federer lost the tennis! My tennis fanatical colleagues were less than happy. After another interesting and fun day at the office I left excited, eager for what the next day had in store.

Day Three

Today I had a busy day at the Royal Meteorological Society. I arrived in style in Mum’s secretary’s convertible which refreshed me for the day ahead. I continued work on my piece about the Icelandic volcano and how it affected not only Iceland, but Europe too and even places as far as Kenya had lost out because trade had come to a halt. Liz and I took a look at the forecast for the weekend ready for the two Sue’s camping trips. I found it useful because I’m going camping too! It looks like Saturday will be the best day but Sunday looks set to be windy with heavy showers! There is a second cold front due to approach us bring warm weather just before the rain. I was then introduced to Sue Brown who is Paul’s secretary. As well as being Paul’s secretary she is in charge of organizing the conferences for different members of the society. She explained to me that there was a student conference and a main conference for the fellow members of the society. The fellows are the most important members in the society and they must be approved by the council as Althea had explained. There was an important student conference coming up and she needed help with making their badges. So I set to work with the guillotine cutting up 90 timetables ready to be put into badges for the guests. I eventually got the hang of it but had to stop as I left at 11am to go into town and have my makeup professionally done for my prom at John Lewis’ Bobbi Brown counter! I again arrived at the office in style ready to have my picture taken for the RMetS website.

After I’d had my picture taken, I was asked to draw a competition winner from a hat. Liz and Rachael had been running a survey to find out more about the type of people interested in the Weather Club. The results gave us an idea of a target audience so we could design the material accordingly. It was interesting to see the results of the survey were not as Liz predicted; we have a wider spread of demographics than thought which is great for the society as it brings diversity. There was a chance to win a silver plated weather station with a barometer, thermometer and clock all in one. After picking out a winner and matching it with an e-mail (congratulations!) we e-mailed them to send their prize on the way. Liz then showed me designs for signage for the Weather Club. I was interested to find out that by law all companies must have a plaque at their registered address, so Liz showed me designs for new brass signs. There was one for the Weather Club and one for Weather & Climate Ltd. As RMetS and the Weather Club are charities, a business was set up so they could trade commercially and profitably unlike charities. After another busy day at RMetS, I left with great excitement, partly for prom and partly for the day ahead of me. What a shame tomorrow will be my last day.

Day 4

I arrived this morning slightly late due to lack of sleep from last night! When I finally got to the office I saw Sue and Althea as the others were at an audition for the BBC Eggheads quiz show. While they were out, I continued slicing paper and nearly finished just as the others got back which was good timing! I met Paul, the chief executive for the first time and told him what I had been doing throughout the week. He said that I had done more than he did! They now await the results of the Eggheads audition which come through next week; I’m sure they did well! I gave my finished sliced cards to a very grateful Sue Brown who gave me a finished lanyard as a token of my efforts. After nipping into town for a bite to eat, I returned to start a new article to go on the RMetS website. I wrote about how the we have had one of the driest starts to the year since 1929 and how this has affected the population. People up and down the country have had to watch their water consumptions and reservoirs are well below average depth, which could mean another hosepipe ban. It was interesting but at the same time it reinforced the need to watch our water usage to prevent the need for a hosepipe ban. After looking at the forecast again today, Rachael discovered it had changed to be warmer and drier than previously expected. This was good news for those of us going camping at the weekend!

After I finished my article I went to see Kathy in the IT department to publish my diary and articles onto the website. It was rewarding seeing my work going live onto the RMetS website. I have really enjoyed my work experience here at the Royal Meteorological Society as it has given me an insight into the way a business works and what a career in meteorology is all about. I have benefited from working alongside my colleagues and helping the society; everyone has been so friendly and welcoming. The experience I have gained here at RMetS will stay with me forever as I will no doubt need them in (hopefully!) my future career as a weather girl. I would like to thank all the staff, Rachael, Liz, Kathy, Althea, Sue B, Sue S and Paul at the Royal Meteorological Society for allowing me to work with them (and organizing hair/makeup appointments!). It has been a wonderful week and I look forward to keeping in touch with them through the Weather Club.