Dylan Dreyer is still pinching herself.
Within one decade, the 2003 Rutgers graduate went from toiling as a TV meteorologist in Erie, Pennsylvania., to landing in New York City alongside Lester Holt on the Weekend Today Show.
For those unfamiliar with TV Market Ratings, that’s a leap from the 143rd market to the top spot.
“Looking back on the last 10 years, I’ve paid my dues and put a lot of effort in and gone through rough times to try to get where I am today,” said Dreyer, who earned her B.S. in meteorology and recently returned to Rutgers’ Cook Campus Center to speak with students and visit the WeatherWatcher program. “Never in a million years had I thought I would be invited back to Rutgers to talk to you guys.”
Dreyer said it was “amazing to see how much the meteorology department has grown over time,” especially the WeatherWatcher program, which was in its infancy when Dreyer was an undergraduate at Rutgers.
The WeatherWatcher program on RU-TV Network forecasts three times a day on weekdays and twice on the weekends. It recently received new equipment from RU-TV to improve broadcasting quality.
Always interested in weather, math and physics, Dreyer decided to take several courses in meteorology here. The more courses she took, the more she fell in love with the subject. Initially, Dreyer considered a career in research meteorology, interning with the National Weather Service, energy companies based on the climate forecast and WeatherWorks.
It wasn’t until she interned at CBS New York with meteorologist Craig Allen that Dreyer decided to pursue broadcast meteorology.
“How fun is that? You actually get to sit at a computer and tell people what you did all day. It is an excuse to talk about your day,” said Dreyer.
But because Dreyer graduated with a degree in meteorology and not broadcasting, she was not sure where to start.
“I think the one piece of advice that I can give to anyone is: be nice to people. The nicer you are to people, the more people are going to help you,” said Dreyer, who shared a story about how an act of kindness was rewarded with the opportunity to make a demo tape in Albany.
After sending out about 60 VHS tapes all over the country, she got her first job in Erie, PA., where Dreyer said she was miserable.
“I don’t have a thick skin; it was heartbreaking,” she said about being barraged with constant criticism, from the way she dressed to the way she talked. “But then over time, I was comfortable in my own shoes. I became confident enough to trust in myself that I could get into a bigger market.”Dreyer got her second job in Providence, R.I., which was market 50 at the time.
“There was backstabbing and more ego involved,” Dreyer said. “It wasn’t the best experience, but I was working my way up the ladder, and I was ready to move on to the higher market.”
With confidence, Dreyer quickly moved her way up to work in Boston – then market five – in 2007. In Boston, Dreyer loved her job and met her cameraman husband. There was no reason for her to leave.
“We were going to live in the suburbs and live happily ever after,” said Dreyer.
However, her ultimate goal – to work in New York City – was in still progress.
By the time her contract in Boston was ending, she received an important phone call from her agent. He’d put her name in for the weekend morning meteorologist position on the Today Show.
“I lost it at that point. Just the fact that my name and the Today Show were mentioned in the same sentence was just unreal,” Dreyer said.
Her last day in Boston was Aug. 31, 2012, and she joined the Today Show on Sept. 14, 2012, but was back in Boston for her Oct. 6 wedding.
“It was stressful. There were so many things going on in my life, but I could not complain because they were awesome things,” Dreyer said. “I still can’t believe I am working with Lester Holt, the legend.”