A lot of people ask: What exactly do I DO for Accuweather? I'm a meteorologist, right? So do I forecast? What's a typical day in the life of Jesse Ferrell at AccuWeather?
I do serve a very unusual job function here - a very one of a kind position, that I've helped craft over the years, that doesn't involve any operational forecasting but manages to involve two of my favorite things - computers (specifically the Internet) and weather.
(this section removed and inserted (italicized) into a more recent version of this blog)
Like everyone in the Internet department or anywhere at AccuWeather other than Forecasting or System Operations, I work a typical Monday-Friday schedule. For a while in the early 2000s my wife and I were a one-car family and we had to take her daughter to day care early, so I worked 7-3 for a while, especially during the summer. Getting up at 4:30 AM sucked but being home before the storms started in the afternoon was nice during Summer. These days I work typically 8:30 - 4:30.
The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is check the AccuWeather.com Photo Gallery and Forums to approve photos, comments and profiles (I moderate those sites along with some volunteers, mostly from outside AccuWeather). This involves checking the Photo Gallery pictures, tags and Forum posts for content, and selecting Moderator's Picks on the Photo Gallery, which are used elsewhere on AccuWeather.com and the Local AccuWeather Channel. I then head into work. AccuWeather HQ is only about 2 miles from my house, so sometimes I walk or bike.
I typically park out front by the lobby unless it's really hot, in which case I'll try to get there early enough to get the "sweet spot" space where the building's eastern tower will shade my car around 3-4 pm which really helps (I hate getting into a hot car). After getting the computer docked and booting up (I carry a laptop so I can have access to the same data at home) and the TV on (I monitor major news media out of the corner of my eye during the day for anything weather-related), I hit the lounge and throw my lunch into the fridge and then I'm back at my desk, where you see me on the J-CAM.
First business is to check email. If there's anything urgent from anyone high up the food chain I'll hammer out a response (more on the types of emails I get below). I then review Google News feeds briefly to find any exciting stories that I might want to bring up in the "9 AM Meeting" where we discuss what is happening in the world of Weather News and how we will cover it on AccuWeather.com (this meeting is run by Henry Margusity). That meeting is every morning and involves forecasters, video broadcasters, news managers and more. I am there to suggest Community content that we might want to use in the news stories, and because I sometimes have information about products or websites that we need to promote that day on AccuWeather.com.
After the meeting it's back to checking email and working on my list of projects. I get a lot of emails from internal people (or people walking up behind me, which is why you see the rear-view mirror attached to my monitor on the J-CAM) wanting to know if I can suggest content or organization for new web pages or web sites. Sometimes Sales people have questions on a project they are working on for a client. I am also on the "review boards" of much of our internal data improvements such as MapSpace and Radar Products, so programmers may send new samples out for me to comment on.
My project list is generally assigned by one of several bosses and involves large project specification for major website additions or improvements - right now on my list are the Hurricane Center 2009 and Winter Center 2009 both of which are being updated for this season with a new layout and new content. For projects like this I will do a lengthy project proposal, working with designers who do mock-ups that I can "storyboard" (show how they interrelate and annotate with notes on what programs or systems the data will come from). This document, when approved by management, gets turned in to the programmers who estimate the different parts of the project, and (based on management approval) may need to be revised. I work with the programmers as they create the new product/site and then review it before and after it goes online to make sure that it meets specifications.
Also on my major project list is what AccuWeather.com plans to do with Facebook and other social networking tools, again there my mission is to specify what we want to do, why it makes business sense, and create a plan for how the tools will be used.
And of course I get emails from blog readers like you, or Comments on my blog, which usually ask specific questions about where to find weather data or set up weather gadgets. So through most of the day I work back and forth between answering emails and churning through the aforementioned projects. I have a lot of meetings too -- despite email, not everything can be solved electronically and I am typically in 4-8 meetings per week. Add all that together and you get my weekly duties. I also keep an eye on the competitors and relate any information on new products or services from them, to my boss.
Over lunch time I typically eat something I brought from home (to save money) though occasionally a group of us will get together and go into State College for lunch. During lunch, if I'm eating in, I check Google Reader to keep up with weather or tech blogs that I read.
That's about it - I hope this gives you a window into what it is that I do for AccuWeather.
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