Alumna Roosmarijn Knol, from hardworking student to weather presenter on Dutch television

Alumna Roosmarijn Knol is already a well-known weatherwoman on television. She tells us about her student days, the dynamics on a news desk, her dreams, and the weather briefings she now provides herself at WUR.

Roosmarijn graduated from Wageningen University & Research (WUR). She first studied BSc Soil, Water and Atmosphere (2018) and then MSc Earth & Environment (2021) with a specialization in meteorology. She has fond memories of her student days, starting during her studies as an assistant meteorologist at Weeronline and after graduating she worked among others for Weerplaza. From September 2023, she started as a weather woman at NOS (aims to be the primary source of information on news, sports and events for Dutch citizens - ed.). She enjoys analysing the weather and presenting it to a large audience. Fun fact: she does not suffer from tension or nerves.

Read her animated and inspiring story below.

Wageningen remains a special place for me

"During my final years in high school, it became increasingly clear that the study courses offered at WUR matched my interests very well, and I became enthusiastic about the descriptions, study programmes, and talks given by teachers and students at the open day. Additionally, the small-scale nature of the university appealed to me a lot. Wageningen has grown considerably since then, but it is still not a place where you blend into the mass of students and end up as a number in the lecture halls. My preference was for Soil, Water and Atmosphere, and that study is not offered anywhere else in the Netherlands. So the choice for WUR was somewhat easy!

Weather briefings and collaboration with WUR
After graduating, my ties to my alma mater loosened and I felt less attached for a while. Recently, however, there has been a change in that, as I, in collaboration with the Meteorology and Air Quality chair group (MAQ), give 'weather briefings' together with a colleague from Infoplaza. In these briefings, we thoroughly examine the weather conditions, carefully noting any notable features, and dedicate extra attention to the standout elements in the weather that has unfolded. Additionally, we provide a forecast for the upcoming weather. This collaboration is a nice connection between the university and the practice in the weather room. As a result, I find myself in Wageningen more often and am in contact with teachers and students. Every time I visit the campus, it still feels like coming home.

I still feel like a proud Wageninger. My studies in Wageningen have brought me a lot, both professionally and personally, through the friendships that developed during my education. Wageningen will therefore always remain a special place for me.

Start career as a weather presenter

When I was pursuing the MSc Earth & Environment degree (the follow-up to Soil, Water, Atmosphere), I got a part-time job at Weeronline. Eventually, I also did my internship there, and during that phase, the company was taken over by Infoplaza. There was a lot of work but relatively few people working in the weather room. And even before my internship was officially completed, I signed my contract. You could easily move on from your internship to permanent positions. I have heard similar stories from my fellow students.

When the vacancy at NOS was announced for a new weather presenter, a completed scientific education in meteorology was a requirement. Without studying in Wageningen, I would have never been able to land this position. The NOS explained that they were looking for a specialist who has the right knowledge to accurately interpret everything related to weather and climate, based on scientific information and reliable sources. All of that was covered during my studies in Wageningen.

Always a treat

It's a treat every single time to analyse the weather in detail and craft a compelling story to present to a large audience. In the Netherlands, weather is often a topic of conversation, and the weather presenter plays a significant role in that. There has never been a moment of tension or nerves, and I feel completely at home in this role! The dynamic of a newsroom is also exciting and unique to experience. Sometimes, work is done under extremely high pressure, especially during breaking news situations. And when weather becomes the news of the day, we as weather presenters suddenly become the center of attention. Presenting a weather forecast on a day when it's snowing or stormy; those are the most enjoyable days for me!

At NOS, I haven't encountered many alumni from WUR. Most of my colleagues have backgrounds in journalism, which isn't a programme you can study at WUR. At my other employer, Infoplaza, I do come across many WUR alumni. Every now and then, someone refers to a difficult course or that one odd teacher who wasn't great at explaining, haha!

Impact of my work on hobbies

One of the drawbacks of working as a meteorologist is the irregular hours: from early mornings to late evenings, including weekends. This can have quite an impact on my social life and hobbies outside of work, as other people are often free during those times. However, with proper planning and juggling responsibilities, I manage quite well! Since childhood, I've been riding horses and I still do that once a week. You will never find me watching the news on Tuesday because that's when I'm at the stable. Additionally, I enjoy taking long walks and engaging in other sports like running, HIIT, or pilates. My group of friends is from Wageningen, and I still regularly meet up with them.

Good memories of student days

Studying at WUR was quite demanding sometimes, with many contact hours and occasionally challenging subjects. Occasionally I did envy friends studying at other universities who had whole days or half-days off. Free time was much scarcer in Wageningen, and most of the time, I was at the university from Monday to Friday from early morning until late afternoon. On the other hand, this ensures that you can make the most of your studies and that there is a lot of guidance, time, and attention for you as a student. Because Soil, Water, Atmosphere is a relatively small programme, I quickly got to know people in the first weeks and months, and close friendships emerged from that. Additionally, I was active in the study association Pyrus, of which I learned a lot and have many fond memories of.

Tips for prospective and current students

It can be quite overwhelming to choose a study programme when you get to that age. You're starting to map out your career path while still feeling very young and distant from it all. Open days give you a good idea of a study programme, but the university naturally presents the most attractive story. Personally, I found that spending a day shadowing a student added real value. My advice would be to not focus solely on facts and information during your orientation but to also consider whether you get a good feeling about the programme and if you feel enthusiastic about certain themes; do you, for example, want to learn more about them? When I chose my studies, I was quickly drawn to Soil, Water, Atmosphere, and ultimately, I followed that gut feeling.

During my Bachelor's, I hardly ever thought about what I could do after my studies. Occasionally, former students came to talk about their current jobs during classes. At that time, it felt distant and not something I needed to worry about just yet. However, when I started my Master's, that changed, and I got a part-time job at Weeronline. There, I could apply some of the knowledge I gained during my studies in practice. This made me much more aware of how certain processes work and how to explain them clearly. In some fields, the academic world is quite far removed from the practical professions you might pursue. I think finding a connection between these two worlds can greatly help you become even better in your field or specialization.

Part of my education aligned well with my current job, but in certain areas, it did not. Meteorology at university is quite theoretical and involves a lot of mathematics and physics. It deals with very small processes, sometimes even at a microscopic level near the ground or very high up in the atmosphere, whereas in my current role, I hardly ever need to delve into such detail or recall all the formulas. However, my education ensured that I understand the atmosphere comprehensively and can better connect things. Especially for in-depth conversations or in segments requiring extra explanation, that still comes in handy.

The transition from student to working professional wasn't seamless because as a Soil, Water, Atmosphere student, you cannot start working in the weather room as a meteorologist or weather presenter the very next day after graduation. Presenting, for instance, is given little attention during the course. This job can only can be mastered through experience acquired through practical work and by experiencing weather situations yourself.

My plans and dreams

It is sometimes said that being a weather presenter at NOS is a job for life. Considering my predecessors, that is certainly not an unreasonable statement. The weather presenters of today all worked there for more than 10 years, and Gerrit Hiemstra (WUR Agricultural Engineering with specialization in meteorology 1986 - ed.) has even held that position for more than 20 years. So for the time being, I don't foresee a major career switch, and I am incredibly happy with my current jobs at NOS and Infoplaza.

I am curious to see whether the weather forecast will change in the future and what impact that will have on my work. I want to continue developing myself in my field and for that, the connection to science and universities like WUR is important. As 14-year-old Roosmarijn, I had two dreams: to become a weather presenter and to own a horse. The first one has come true, now for the second one."

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