Student Opportunities at NWS Ft. Worth

picture of NWS Ft. WorthNational Weather Service Forecast offices regularly provide opportunities for college students to gain valuable work experience, both as paid employees and as unpaid volunteers. Many NWS employees participated in such programs themselves when they were students and remain grateful for the experience. For this reason, they understand how beneficial such programs can be, and they are eager to return the favor. This is true even if a student ends up not working for the National Weather Service.

Of course, the NWS benefits greatly from these programs as well. Not only do we gain a little extra help for a few months, but we also give potential future employees a running start toward a successful NWS career. When deciding which recent graduate to hire, a manager in the NWS often would like to select someone who has actual NWS experience -- and the positive recommendations to go with it!

There are several avenues by which students can participate in operations at WFO Fort Worth....


Pathways for Students and Recent Graduates

The new Pathways Program will offer clear paths to Federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school, and to careers for recent graduates. As a student or recent graduate, you can begin your career in the Federal government by choosing the path that best fits you and where you are in your academic career.

pathways logoThe decisions on how Pathways will be implemented in the National Weather Service have not been finalized. The program will be managed at the national and regional level, and it is not clear how many positions will be offered at field Weather Forecast Offices such as Fort Worth. For an overview of Pathways, including a means for you to get notification of Pathways openings, visit the USAJOBS web site. The information in the paragraphs below will provide you with background knowledge of Pathways.

The Pathways Internship Program
is for current students. It replaces the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). The Internship Program provides students in colleges, trade schools and other qualifying educational institutions with paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while completing their education. The Pathways Recent Graduates Program provides developmental experiences in the Federal Government. It is intended to promote possible careers in the civil service to individuals who, within the previous two years, graduated from qualifying educational institutions with a bachelors, masters, professional, or doctorate degree from qualifying educational institutions. 

 

The NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program

Another form of paid employment (and scholarship money!) is offered through the NOAA Hollings Scholarship. This scholarship program was established in honor of retired South Carolina Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, who promoted oceanic and atmospheric research throughout his career. NOAA solicits applications for this program once per year, usually between September and January. Application materials and the most current deadlines are available here.
Scholarship students will be eligible for up to $8,000 of academic assistance per year for full-time study during their junior and senior years; a paid 10-week, full-time internship position during the summer at a NOAA facility ($650 per week); a housing subsidy for scholars who do not reside at home during the summer internship; and travel expenses to attend and participate in a mandatory orientation and conference.
Applications for the Hollings Scholarship Program are available online, by e-mail at StudentScholarshipPrograms@noaa.gov, by telephone to 301-713-9437 x150, or by mail to:
NOAA Hollings Scholarship Program
Attn: Student Scholarship Team
1315 East-West Highway, Room 10734
Silver Spring, MD 20910-6223
Note: Although selections for the Hollings Scholarship are not made by the local forecast office, we can serve as a host office for students who have already been accepted into the program and are seeking a summer internship. Staff members occasionally list potential summer internship projects in the SSIO database, and Hollings Scholarship students may also directly contact potential mentors at our office to discuss creating a project based on mutual interests.


Student Volunteer Program

Like the rest of the National Weather Service, WFO Fort Worth values the talents and enthusiasm of college-level students and recent graduates who aspire to careers in the National Weather Service. We recognize the important role they can play as future employees, and we strive to support them in their quest to enter our agency. We do this primarily by creating volunteer opportunities at WFO Fort Worth.

The Student Volunteer Program offers work experience related to the participant's academic field of study. Students have an opportunity to explore their career options and to develop both professional and personal skills.

Student volunteer selections, primarily for the summer, are made locally at NWS Ft. Worth during the spring. Factors for selection as a student volunteer are less formal than for a paid position. These factors may include:
  • Number of students we can handle at one time
  • Year in school and amount of coursework completed
  • Academic record
  • Activities outside of class (clubs, teams, volunteer work, etc.)
  • Whether the student has previously volunteered with the NWS
  • United States citizenship (required)
  • Status as a current student (required)
Most students who volunteer at WFO Fort Worth are taking coursework in atmospheric science or hydrologic science. However, we will also consider hosting students with skills in Information Technology, Geographic Information Systems, or other related fields.


Work hours for student volunteers

We understand that student volunteers have many other commitments, including their academic work and perhaps actual paid employment. For this reason, we are flexible about the specific hours that a student works as a volunteer. We ask that student volunteers average 2-3 days per week for at least one 5-6 week period, mainly during the summer.
We also recommend that students try to work at least part of their time during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. This gives the student greater exposure to a wider variety of weather and potentially allows the student to interact with a greater number of forecasters. A student will spend their work time on a variety of activities. Especially at first, some of the time will be spent shadowing forecasters and other staff members. Eventually, the student will work on specific local office projects.


Earning college credit as a volunteer

Students may wish to check with their academic advisor about earning credit toward graduation for the time they spend volunteering. Specific policies vary by institution. For example, some schools may require the student to work more than 8 hours per week in order to earn credit. Otherwise, it does not matter to the NWS whether a student is volunteering for credit or not.


Rules and regulations for volunteers

The National Weather Service, as an agency of the United States Department of Commerce (DOC), is bound by the laws, policies, guidelines, and procedures regarding voluntary and uncompensated services as summarized in DOC Administrative Order 202-311. This is important information for potential volunteers. For example, Section 2.03.d in this document explains the citizenship requirements for volunteers: "If an agency may not hire citizens of a particular country, citizens of that country may not serve as student volunteers." Also note the Student Volunteer Agreement at the bottom of that document. The first point requires that: "The student is enrolled at least half time at an accredited school, is recommended by the school, and is acceptable to the agency."  All prospective volunteers will also be required to complete the necessary paperwork and security forms before being allowed to spend time at the NWS office.


Applying for a student volunteer position at NWS Ft. Worth

If you are interested in being a student volunteer at NWS Ft. Worth, please send a request for further information to sr-fwd.webmaster@noaa.gov.

 


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