National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Becki Heim

Location: Anchorage, AK
NWS Alaska Region Headquarters (WFO)
Job Title: Arctic & International Policy Coordinator

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Atmospheric Science with a minor in Mathematics from the University of North Dakota
  • Master’s Degree in Atmospheric Science with a focus on Oceanography from the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Describe the career path that led you to your current job with the National Weather Service.

  • I was offered a scholarship and research assistant position at the University of Alaska Fairbanks after earning my Bachelor’s Degree. I jumped at the opportunity, packed my life in my car, drove up the Al-Can highway, and then was inspired assisting with incredible polar science projects on the Scandinavian island of Svalbard and onboard a Russian Icebreaker in the Arctic Ocean. During this time I fell in love with Alaska and the Arctic! Now my passion for the Arctic has turned into my career and Alaska has turned into my home.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • In my current position as the Arctic & International Policy Coordinator, I support the NWS Alaska Region and our Regional Director regarding all matters relevant to the Arctic & International Policy. I interact with colleagues at the NWS International Affairs Office, help prepare NWS leadership with talking points on the Arctic for relevant taskers and meetings, and work with colleagues in other government, state, and local agencies. It's an exciting time to support leaders of our agency as we prioritize our NWS work in the Arctic.

What was the most interesting, exciting, or impactful weather/water event you experienced while working for the NWS and why does it stand out?

  • The most impactful event I experienced involved the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy escort of the Russian Tanker Renda to resupply the village of Nome, Alaska with fuel.. During the period from early December 2011 through January 2012 our Alaska Sea Ice Program team provided daily briefings to the US Coast Guard in support of safe navigation through approximately 800 miles of sea ice in the Bering Sea.

What made you decide to pursue a career with the NWS?

  • The mission, to protect life, property, and commerce. Working for the NWS provides an opportunity to make a difference and to have a real impact in this world. I think that's incredibly rewarding!

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • I really enjoy the variety of work I do on a day to day basis. One day I may be helping prepare NWS senior leadership with talking points on NWS Alaska's work and needs in a changing Arctic, the next day I may be working alongside our Department of Defense colleagues to discuss collaborations in the Alaskan Arctic. It's such a joy to work with incredible colleagues to ensure our agency meets our mission here in the Arctic.

What advice do you have for someone interested in a career with the NWS?

  • Don't be afraid to look up NWS staff members in offices or career areas that align with your future career paths and email them out of the blue. So many of us are more than willing to chat with you about career options and advice. Network early and often, and build up experience through relevant coursework, volunteer and paid work experience will take you far. Many in our agency are approaching retirement age and you're all the future of our agency. We want to support you and help develop you to be the next leaders of the NWS.

What training or coursework would you recommend to someone interested in following your career path?

  • Get your math and science courses in and don't give up when you struggle. It took me multiple tries to get through Calculus 2, but persistence always wins in the end.
  • I would also highly recommend looking for internships and opportunities to learn outside of the classroom early on in college. Try things out to discover what you enjoy and what you dislike. Instead of working at a coffee shop or mall, ask if any of your professors are looking for a research intern. Any experience that will help you in your future career is a benefit. And most of all once you find your passion, go with it! It will lead you to a career and a job you look forward to going to each day!