When I started college, I had no idea what engineers did but I knew from patrolling the internet that if I wanted to work at NASA (something I had dreamt about since I was in second grade), then a degree in engineering was probably the way to go. I ended up scoring my first of four NASA internships during my second year of college which led to a full-time job there after graduating. Keep reading to learn how did I did it. But first, enjoy some intern throwback photos!
- I set myself apart. I did a quick internet search of “NASA internship points of contact” to find an actual person I could e-mail at each NASA center rather than just relying on a first impression with a recruiter at a college career fair. You might be surprised how big an impact making a personal connection can have. I just did this internet search again, and you can find NASA Pathways Intern Program points of contact here. Information for all NASA internships can be found here.
- I did my research. There’s nothing worse than showing up to an interview without at least a basic understanding of the job you’ve applied to. I made sure I knew what specific functions each NASA center performs and had a general idea of what the organization structure was like (Ex. NASA Johnson has Mission Control, is home to the Astronaut Corps and provides astronaut training, among other things). Some centers focus on research while others are more operationally focused. This knowledge will help with tailoring your applications, making connections in the areas you’re interested in, and with preparing for your interview when the time comes. Also have a general understanding of how the internship program you’re applying for works so that you know how your interning requirements will fit into your graduation plan (Generally NASA’s Pathways Intern Program requires you to intern for a minimum of three semesters).
- I am passionate about space and aviation and I made sure the people interviewing me knew it. Know why you want to work at NASA. You want your passion to shine through when you’re applying and interviewing.
- I am a team player. Many of my interview questions revolved around how I worked on a team and the type of leader I am. Have some examples of how you’ve overcome difficult situations.