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Zarembka soars in Delta Air Lines meteorology internship

Not many students know their upcoming summer plans during Thanksgiving the previous year, but Ohio University student Madelynn Zarembka knew exactly where she would be.

Last fall, Zarembka got the call that she had been selected to be a meteorology intern with Delta Air Lines at their headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., during summer 2022.

“It’s been awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better internship,” she said.

Zarembka, who is a rising senior from Akron, Ohio, majoring in geography-meteorology and earning a geographic information science certificate in the College of Arts and Sciences, has always seen herself working for an airline. The Delta internship was a dream come true.  

On a typical day, Zarembka works a 10-hour shift shadowing and working alongside Delta operational meteorologists. The first task she does is familiarize herself with weather patterns going on across the country, and then she sits in a briefing of many departments to discuss plans for that day.

“You don’t think about it at all as a typical passenger, but the meteorologists here are forecasting for the entire world,” she said.

This internship has provided Zarembka with a front-row view of how dispatchers and meteorologists work together each day to navigate plane take-offs and arrivals due to weather conditions. 

Follow along with Zarembka for a day at Delta

“I never really thought about anyone working behind the scenes and how much really goes on into getting this plane to take off,” she said. “I learned that there is an immense amount of people behind the scenes that you don’t really think about at all when you’re just a regular passenger on a plane. It’s been a really cool experience to be able to witness that and see how many people are helping out.”

A goal for Zarembka during this internship was to get more comfortable writing terminal aerodrome forecasts, or TAFs, which is a document of forecasted meteorological conditions during a set period for a specific location. To write these, she uses meteorological terminal air report (METAR) data.

“Before this internship started, I only knew how to read them and decode them,” Zarembka said. “Now, I actually know how to write them and strategies on how to approach writing them. In a way, writing a TAF is like learning a new language because you have to write in code a certain way. I’ve definitely improved, and the meteorologists here have given me really good advice on how to forecast better and which models you should trust, and which you should not.”

Madelynn Zarembka stands in front of a plane engine at Delta headquarters.
Madelynn Zarembka in front of a plane engine at Delta headquarters.

Zarembka has given support in reorganizing new hire materials and providing feedback on new Delta products. She’s also had an opportunity to learn JavaScript and HTML coding.

While working with Delta, she earns flight benefits as well, which has allowed her to travel home to see her family but also to places she always wanted to visit before, like New York City and Key West. By working four days and having three days off, she has had a summer full of adventures.

She felt her studies at OHIO prepared her immensely for the Delta internship. OHIO is one of only two universities in the state to offer degrees in meteorology.

“I was able to see what I’ve learned in the classroom applied to these real-world situations. It’s an experience like no other that Delta has given me this summer,” Zarembka said.

As Zarembka wraps up her summer internship, she’s looking forward to her senior year on the Athens bricks. She will serve as president of the Ohio University Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (OUCAMS).

“OUCAMS is the reason why I met so many of my friends that I will probably have forever,” she said.

During the academic year, she will also be the lead forecaster of Scalia Laboratory, a student-run weather service, and an OHIO Climate and Sustainability Ambassador, promoting a more sustainable campus.

“I'm looking forward to continuing and pursuing my passion for meteorology and the remaining classes that I have,” Zarembka said. “I’m just looking forward to my last year at OHIO, even though it’s sad because it’s gone by really fast. I’ll miss OHIO for sure.”

August 24, 2022
Jalyn Bolyard