Alumni and supporters

Jennifer Akers (MMet Meteorology 2012) 

Biography

Knowing I wanted to progress to university, but being unsure of what to study, it was my great passion for the environment and a fascination in clouds that led me to extend my Maths and Physics interest from A Levels to a Meteorology degree. Once at the University of Reading I knew my punt at Meteorology was the right one and I’ve since developed a great concern and interest in climate change research. I spent a year studying at the University of Oklahoma in the 3rd year of my degree which was a once in a lifetime, fantastic opportunity. It is also the reason why I now have a passion for seeing the world.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

Once I’d decided to persue Meteorology, there was only one place I wanted to study! The University of Reading’s Meteorology department was the highest ranked of such departments in the country and offered the opportunity to study abroad (something everyone should do!). When I visited the beautiful green campus on a sunny Mid-June open day and saw the department and staff for myself, I was completely sold.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

The diversity of people that I came across made me love University. I lived in Windsor Hall in my first year and living and eating with other students for the year created irreplaceable friendships. Living on Whiteknights campus, with a 5minute walk to the centre, was perfect for lazy freshers and Reading’s proximity to London was ideal to visit home, and indeed anywhere else in the UK, for the weekend.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Make the most of all your years at Reading by trying out as many clubs and societies as you want - you might just find a new calling. I got involved in activities ranging from women’s rugby to St John’s Ambulance, the DIY society and student tutoring and my university experience was all the better for it. You’ll also never again get the opportunity to try so many activities, readymade on your doorstep. Don’t underestimate how important your 1st year of university is. Although your grades won’t count to your final degree grade (and it’s tempting to sleep through 9am lectures..) everything you’ll learn in the first year will provide an invaluable foundation for the topics you’ll cover in subsequent years.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I am currently working as a Marine Meteorologist with Fugro Geos in Singapore! I applied for jobs in the UK, several of those at the Met Office but it was a fellow Reading Meteorology graduate who, knowing my appetite for living abroad let me know of a vacancy in the SE Asia office of her company. I had an interview in their UK office and flew out a few months later! Adjusting to a new culture and continent has been the biggest of challenges but I’m really enjoying my time here, especially the travelling of SE Asia that I have been able to squeeze in!

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

A degree in Meteorology isn’t essential - the UK Met Office in particular accepts degrees in Maths or Physics, but the specialist knowledge that you gain from a meteorology degree is considered invaluable by private forecasting companies. Keep up with latest research, particularly if you’re interested in following a career in academia, (incidentally if this can’t be found in the Meteorology department library, then the research is probably happening in the rooms above you).

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

I knew I wanted a career in meteorology from the beginning of my studies, but the careers centre and especially lecturers in my department, helped me refine my job applications and gave me advice on what particularly employers were looking for in CV’s. They were perfectly placed for this advice, having had previous years alumni successfully gain jobs for the same companies.

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

Everyone says it, but university is the time when you are allowed to express whoever you want to be, so enjoy it. On the careers side - work experience is always invaluable - not only does it provide you with contacts in the industry when job-finding-time comes round, but it gives you a feel for what the work will be like. Send speculative CV’s - just because they haven’t advertised for a job, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t use someone like you. Be confident in applications, CV’s and interviews even if it doesn’t come naturally.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

The meteorology department will always hold a place in my heart and memories. It’s a truly unique department, with the Christmas Pantomimes and summer barn dances being some of the highlights. It is a department where professors, PhD students and first years share one coffee room and it was a great place to spend my university days. I made friends for life in Reading but it was particularly my time in Windsor Hall and studying in Oklahoma, which gave me the opportunity to meet a whole spectrum of people I wouldn’t have otherwise.