Kristen Seaman is a May 2009 graduate of the Applied Meteorology program at the Daytona Beach campus. She is currently a Coordinator for the Communications Department at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and is in flight training working toward her Private Pilot Certificate (see photo of her t-shirt cutting after her first solo flight).
As a meteorology graduate, what made you decide to enter the field of communications?
I actually have a minor in Professional Communication from ERAU in addition to my Applied Meteorology degree. However, written and verbal communication has always been a strength of mine, dating back to my spelling bee days in elementary school. I think that my concentration in media, as well as my minor, set me up perfectly for a career in communications. I took many writing and television courses that strengthened my writing and presentation skills.
How have your education and previous experiences prepared you for your position at AOPA?
My job at AOPA is multifaceted. As a coordinator, I work directly under our Vice President of Communications, as well as with a team of media, PR, and event planning professionals. What someone might not expect is how much I actually integrate my degree into my job. Because everyone knows that I was meteorology major, I was asked to be our on-site meteorologist for the major air shows that we attend each year. This year at Sun ’n Fun, I sent out a forecast to our team each morning and monitored the meteorological conditions throughout the day so that we were prepared for any potential severe weather events. I am also heading up a new initiative at AOPA that includes revamping our emergency procedures, as well as bringing in a National Weather Service representative to do Storm Spotter training for our employees. I had this training as an ERAU student.
How has your Embry-Riddle degree opened doors for you in the course of your career?
My career path thus far has had its twists and turns through a combination of great mentors, connections made through former classmates, and internship opportunities. During my junior year, I had an internship that included writing two articles for publishing in Weatherwise magazine. Since then, I have received other offers to write articles, and I have also been invited for the second year in a row to speak about aviation weather at the Howard University Weather Camp. Additionally, my previous and current jobs were both found through the Weekly Job List sent out by Career Services.
What advice do you have for graduates who are considering a career outside of their degree?
Someone considering a career outside of their degree should know that just because your job title doesn’t include the words “Meteorologist,” “Engineer” “Pilot,” etc., it doesn’t mean that you won’t apply the skills that you learned from your degree program in your position. Most people make the decision on what to major in at a young age, when they aren’t completely sure of their strengths. Your degree is just a starting point, and you may eventually find yourself at a job within your field that doesn’t fulfill your expectations. The connections you make in college and beyond will take you farther than you ever thought possible. Don’t underestimate the value of a connection outside your field. Just like you, your former classmates and colleagues have probably taken different paths throughout their careers. Network connections are always a great resource when you begin considering other options that peak your interest. Next time you’re sitting in class or attending an alumni event, look around. The person next to you could be the key to landing your next great opportunity.