What did you want to be when you grew up?

Publication date
Wednesday, 7 Mar 2018

Elite athlete? Actor? Astronaut? It’s pretty rare to find someone actually living their childhood dream. Cue: Nate Byrne, ABC Breakfast News weather presenter.

“I understood that adults needed a job,” Nate remembers “I looked at the world around me, and saw the person on TV who did five minutes’ work a day, and I think my five year-old brain thought that it still allowed plenty of time to play. So if you need a job, you want one that’s over quickly!”  

As a weather presenter, Nate combines his communication skills with his meteorological and science expertise to inform and entertain audiences around the country.

It turns out being a weather presenter is not five minutes’ work, but Nate’s enthusiasm for science and his job is as contagious as a child’s.

After studying a bachelor degree in physics, Nate joined the Navy, where he worked in Australia and overseas for over 12 years driving navy warships and working as a meteorologist.

“It was when I was posted to Canberra that I first had a look around at what courses were available to study. It was just like there was a massive light over the top of the Master of Science Communication (Outreach) flashing ‘This one is for you – you must do this!’

“A couple of years later I applied, and was accepted.”

The Master of Science Communication (Outreach) is a one-year program offering specialist training in science communication performance and exhibition design, and the opportunity to tour around Australia for three months with the Shell Questacon Science Circus.

“The coursework whipped me into shape from an academic point of view, and made sure I’d be ready to write some government or strategic policy, and back myself with solid, academically rigorous stuff.

“Being on the road with the Science Circus really let me hone my skills in communication. I’ve always liked talking, but it taught me how to talk with more meaning, refine my message, and be concise and understandable to a wide audience.”

The Master of Science Communication Outreach was able to propel Nate into his childhood dream career. 

“The thing with science communicators is that the community is relatively small and really collegiate, so everyone helps each other out. It was through the graduate network that I found my current job with the ABC Breakfast News team.”

Whilst Nate may have taken an unlikely path to realising his childhood dream, the best advice he has to budding scientists and science communicators is to give it a try.

“Science is for everyone, but not every science is necessarily is for you. If you are even vaguely interested in science, the best thing you can do is go to uni, have a crack, and if you end up finding like I did that you’re doing something for fun, follow it.

“If you think science communications is up your alley, the absolute best thing you can do is learn science. You don’t necessarily need to have a PhD, but you definitely have to be passionate about it.”

So, to all those aspiring athletes, actors and astronauts out there: let Nate’s story inspire you to live your childhood dream.