2022 William M. LaPenta Intern
Georgia State University
Tell us about your internship responsibilities.
My main task is the digital storytelling of findings from four major social and behavioral science projects researching tropical cyclone communication and the public, local, and state governments. Here are the stories I’ve worked on so far.
There’s a Chance of What? Assessing Numeracy Skills of Forecasters, Partners, and Publics to Improve Tropical Cyclone Product Uncertainty, IDSS, and Training. The goal of this project was to examine how forecasters, emergency managers, and the public interpret and comprehend probabilistic tropical cyclone information.
Minding the Gap: Modernizing the Tropical Cyclone Product Suite by Evaluating NWS Partner Information Needs. By interviewing and surveying emergency managers and broadcast meteorologists, this project was designed to help NWS prioritize their efforts to modernize tropical cyclone products and services such as web and mobile forecast text and graphics.
Wait, that Forecast Changed? Assessing How Publics Consume and Process Changing Tropical Cyclone Forecasts Over Time. This project explored how various publics consume and process changing tropical cyclone forecasts over time. To do this, a social science methodology was used to deploy surveys before, during, and after tropical cyclone events to measure the public’s behavior, risk reception, and protective action responses in real-time.
Optimizing Tropical Cyclone Information: An National Hurricane Center Web User Experience Study from a Public Perspective. Using a combination of user-centered design and usability study approaches, the goal of this project was to evaluate the usability of National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) webpage and help NOAA identify various design opportunities to modernize the NHC’s web presence.
Why did you feel this internship would be a good fit?
Since a young age, I have always been fascinated by both extreme weather events and the creative field of writing. While working on my Bachelor’s degree in geosciences, I heard about the Lapenta internship through the department’s regular talks and presentations. It’s important to keep up with these because I’ve heard about interesting research and events by attending these networking opportunities. I always dreamed of doing work related to weather and climate, particularly at NOAA, so I jumped at the opportunity.
Looking back on what you accomplished as an intern, what are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the work I have done on my storytelling project! While it is digital, living work that will undoubtedly be changed and expanded upon, I’m glad I got to provide the groundwork for something that will likely have a major impact down the road.
What was the most valuable thing you learned as a LaPenta intern?
Taking the time to reflect on my process of tackling and completing tasks has been valuable, and has given me a greater understanding of what works best and how to be more productive. I’ve realized that not just a fixed schedule is important in completing tasks, but sometimes little rituals like a podcast or coffee – while it doesn’t sound like a big deal, these mindful efforts can make a big difference in the process, especially when that process involves writing. Moreover, using my internship project to experiment with my work methods has been very impactful to my personal development. Utilizing different tools online like storyboarding and outlining products to organize my thoughts and materials has been incredibly helpful in breaking down this large project.
In what way(s) has this internship experience impacted you?
This internship experience has shown me how diverse the backgrounds in science can be. From movies and TV you can get the impression that the sciences are full of stuffy characters writing out equations on chalkboards; this is far from the truth. There are communicators, writers, designers, educators, field jobs, desk jobs, and everything in between — and just because you may not have a “traditional” background in science, your talents can still be valuable, as they provide a new and fresh perspective.
Finally, do you have any advice for students looking for an internship at NOAA?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. In an internship, it is understood by everyone (usually except ourselves) that you are “in training” — you shouldn’t know how to do everything, or else you wouldn’t be an intern, you’d be working there! So ask questions, take advice, and seek advice. All of that will help you better understand the work you are doing, help build relationships with those you work with, and build your confidence.
Winter/spring opportunities will be posted soon. Stay tuned!
Written July 27, 2022 by: Alexus Moore, Pathways Student Intern