For many students, planning postgraduate life can be a difficult time. They experience a variety of emotions—some are unsure about their future careers and have not figured out exactly where they want to take their lives. This struggle, however, was not borne by Dave Epstein when he graduated from Colby College in 1986.
“I knew what I wanted to do,” Epstein, who completed Lynch and CSOM graduate programs in ’94 and ’01, respectively, said. “I knew I wanted to be in meteorology and specifically on TV.”
Epstein is a meteorologist and horticulturist who contributes to a variety of news sources, including The Boston Globe, WBZ, WBUR, CBS, and Boston.com, among others.
Though Epstein has achieved his career aspirations, his path had a rocky start.
“I didn’t have a job when I graduated in May,” Epstein said. “I had done internships and sort of done everything you’re supposed to do, you know, gotten internships, had a resume tape, but I just didn’t get hired. So it was a little frustrating.”
Struggling to break into the field of meteorology and forecasting, Epstein turned to teaching instead. His first year out of college, he taught as a substitute teacher and worked at an overnight camp during the summer. The next year, his substitute teaching gig became a full-time job as an eighth-grade science teacher.
“Though sort of unexpected, it was great and ended up being a wonderful experience,” he said. “I didn’t expect that I would be an eighth-grade science teacher, and I just absolutely loved it.”
The following summer, Epstein finally got a job working in television, which launched his career.
“I think that the theme was to be patient and not to get frustrated,” Epstein said. “I didn’t have the exact job I wanted, and things didn’t work out as I thought, but as long as I kept pursuing what I wanted, even if it didn’t happen on the timetable I wanted, that was still okay.”
Epstein’s time teaching helped him uncover an interest in working with other people, he said. In 1992, he enrolled at Boston College to pursue a master’s in counseling psychology in the Lynch School. After receiving his master’s, Epstein has been teaching meteorology at Colby College for 15 years.
“Working with the 18 to 22-year-old population is really wonderful, and I think certainly having a master’s degree in counseling has helped me be a better educator as well,” Epstein said.
Four years after receiving his master’s degree, Epstein returned to BC to pursue his M.B.A., which he completed in 2001.
“I have my own business that I run, and the M.B.A. definitely helped that understanding of business and how to create a business and run it,” Epstein said.
While pursuing his M.B.A. at BC, Epstein was part of a program called Leadership for Change, which was offered jointly by the Carroll School of Management and the department of sociology in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences. During his time in Leadership for Change, Epstein met Eve Spangler, a professor in the sociology department with whom he formed a close relationship.
“[Epstein is] just wonderful to work with,” Spangler said. “He’s just really a wonderful multi-talented human being, and he’s just a lovely person to be friends with.”
Although the program has since been terminated, Spangler and the rest of the members of Epstein’s Leadership for Change small group have stayed in contact over the years and still meet a few times each year to reminisce.
“We just kept meeting for the fun of it as friends for 10 years now,” Spangler said. “We have dinner three, four times a year usually. He has the most amazing garden. He’s an incredible gardener. So we meet at his house and we walk around the garden together and catch up.”
Epstein’s diverse background—ranging from a master’s degree in counseling to an M.B.A.—has resulted in a wide variety of careers. Though not exactly a traditional path, Epstein said he enjoys the variability that comes with having different jobs.
“One of the decisions I made at a pretty young age was that I didn’t want to work in a nine to five, or, in today’s world, sort of a seven to six job market,” Epstein said. “What I really like is the variety of things that I might do on a given day.”
Epstein said that any day for him may consist of writing an article for The Boston Globe, being on TV or the radio, speaking at a school, or just spending time in his garden.
Since 2006, Epstein has combined his passions for gardening and weather through his business Growing Wisdom, where he shares insight and offers video services to gardening and landscaping professionals.
Though many people worry about the finances of supporting oneself without a traditional nine-to-five job, Epstein said he has learned how to successfully support himself with multiple forms of income and said he sees his moderate financial success as a trade-off for the freedom that his career gives him.
Epstein said he believes that freedom and financial success are a trade-off—if you have immense financial success, the freedom of your time is limited as a result. Epstein does not measure success by a monetary value, he said, but rather by the amount of time he can spend doing what he loves.
Even though Epstein lost his full-time job at WBUR at the start of the pandemic, he said he was lucky for having other sources of income and a spouse to support him.
“[The pandemic] has impacted things, but it hasn’t impacted things in the same way that many people were impacted,” Epstein said. “I still consider myself very fortunate in that I still have some income coming in.”
Epstein’s career as a meteorologist at WBUR may be over, but he said he feels his popularity among the people of Boston has not changed. He attributes Boston residents’ trust of him and his forecasts to his ability to prevent stress about the weather.
An example of Epstein preventing people from stressing about weather, he said, is a typical New England two-foot snowstorm. People have to take the time to shovel out their driveways and are maybe late for work, but the inconvenience of the snow is usually relieved by the next day.
“I think one of the things I strive for is to be low-hype when it comes to the weather,” Epstein said. “There are actually very few weather days which are really life-changing, and for most people, the most severe weather doesn’t happen.”
Part of Epstein’s personal mission has been to dissuade people from panicking about events like snowstorms, he said. Epstein also includes this mission to prevent panic in his views on one of the most recent and significant concerns pertaining to the weather—climate change. Given the recent frequency of 70 degree days in Boston in March, it may seem like climate change is drastically affecting the daily weather, but Epstein said that this is not the case.
“The way I like to phrase this for my students is, ‘Climate is the wardrobe you have in your closet, whether or not it’s what you’re taking out [to wear] for the day,'” Epstein said. “And so I still think that our wardrobe hasn’t necessarily changed, but when we take things out might change a little.”
While New Englanders basked in the warm weather and sunshine during what is usually a gray and dismal month, there is no need to panic about March having been unusually warm, according to Epstein. Instead, he suggests that people look at long-term trends to see the true effects of climate change.
“In the next 20 or 30 years, it will be a different climate, per se, so you may have more clothing for warm weather than cool weather,” Epstein said. “But in terms of day-to-day, it doesn’t really impact it because weather is just what’s happening in the day-to-day, it’s sort of in the background.”
Through his Twitter account @growingwisdom, which has over 44,400 followers at the time of publication, Epstein has been able to connect with locals. He favors Twitter because of the ability to connect with everyday people, he said.
“You get an insight into how most people in the area lead their daily lives and that’s what keeps me grounded, is just to listen to them, rather than get caught up in the ‘Oh you’re on TV or on the radio,’” Epstein said. “It isn’t a big deal you know, it’s just a job at the end of the day.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Dave Epstein