Cowen House and an evening climb up Arthur’s Seat are stand out memories for broadcast meteorologist Kirsty McCabe, who decided to study geophysics at the age of 12.
|Degree Course||Geophysics (BSc Hons)|
|Year of Graduation||1997|
Your time at the University
My mum was born and raised in Edinburgh and we used to visit all the time to see our grandparents so it felt like a second home. In fact, even though my husband and I met in London we decided to get married in Edinburgh as I still feel a strong connection with the city.
When I was 12 and reading a careers booklet I came across geophysics for the first time. As well as being obsessed about how the world works, part of the reason I wanted to study it was because so few people had heard of it! Once I’d decided that it was an easy decision to go to Edinburgh, as it is the only place in Scotland where you can study geophysics.
In my first year I lived in Cowan House, which was on the Pollock Halls campus but has now been torn down. Rumours at the time claimed it was based on the floor plan for a Swedish prison. But it was the place where I met many of my closest friends and I felt quite sad to hear it had gone.
From our halls of residence we could easily access Arthur’s Seat and I’ll never forget one (tipsy) evening when we decided to venture up the mountain and were treated to a rare showing of the Northern Lights. Outside of my studies I was involved in various choirs and musical societies, and as a friend later put it, I’ve now ended up in my dream job that combines my science knowledge with performance skills.
When I was 12 and reading a careers booklet I came across geophysics for the first time. As well as being obsessed about how the world works, part of the reason I wanted to study it was because so few people had heard of it!
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
After I graduated I headed to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre where I spent a summer as an intern before heading to the University of Oxford to continue my studies into climate change at the Department of Earth Sciences. While at Oxford I was offered an editorial internship at New Scientist magazine, and after a few months there I changed tack on a career in academia and headed into media instead. Which turned out to be a good thing as it was in the magazine’s jobs section that a colleague spotted the advert for the Met Office looking for a new broadcast meteorologist to join the BBC Weather Team. What started out as a jokey suggestion, turned into a job application, on-camera interview/audition and the start of a new career.
Initially I spent a lot of time at the Met Office College and RAF bases, getting my aviation forecaster qualifications while honing my presenting skills on the BBC’s interactive service. After I passed my advanced forecaster exams, which brought back all those calculus and thermodynamics exams at university, I worked my way up through the BBC TV and Radio channels, broadcasting live on BBC Breakfast , Countryfile, Landmark, BBC News, Radio 4 and Radio 5Live.
Five years later I joined the world of breakfast telly and spent a few years with a 3.30am alarm call presenting the weather on GMTV and ITV’s Daybreak. In 2011 I was nominated for a TRIC award. By this point my eldest son had arrived and traipsing the length and breadth of the country for outside broadcasts no longer had quite the same appeal. I went freelance and actually ended up covering some shifts at the BBC before having my second child.
To maximise family time I started working from home, writing weather articles for The Weather Channel and parenting columns for various magazines including Junior. I kept up the TV work with occasional shifts at Channel 5.
Now that my boys are older I’ve returned to full time work as the Senior Meteorologist for The Weather Channel UK. These days it’s all about digital content so our forecasts and weather videos are available online and on The Weather Channel app. But I still pop up on normal TV when I cover weather shifts at Channel 5 and Sky News.
A good degree is essential but so are contacts. Get to know people in the industry you want to be involved in. Do some work experience. Once you have a foot in the door it’s much easier to get that job. And above all, this is the best advice I got from a neighbour when I didn’t get a job I was after (but subsequently ended up with a better one): Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye.