Final Day

“Why should you hire me? Because I know what I’m doing, that’s why.”

As soon as those words came out of my mouth during the interview, that’s when I thought Oh shit… they won’t want me. But I was proven wrong, and now that my internship is over, I can say that – for the most part – I was right. I thought I was being overconfident at the time, but as I found out recently, I was picked over the other three candidates because of my experience. And over the course of three months, I’d like to think that I justified my statement.

Continue reading “Final Day”

Yes, I Cry About Space

The Cassini probe will end its epic mission to Saturn on September 15th. I’m writing this now, three weeks from the event, because I anticipate being so emotionally overwhelmed that I won’t be able to type coherently. In between a stoic German upbringing and twelve years in the military, it takes a lot for me to become so verklempt that I’m moved to tears. That said, when Cassini meets its heroic end, it will join a very short list of things that have made me cry openly within the past few years:

…and even then, it may not be theatrical sobbing so much as a few silent tears and a Ron Swanson-esque fist clench. But you get the idea.

ron swanson crying.gif

Continue reading “Yes, I Cry About Space”


My favorite photo of Gene Kranz that I took at the Salute to Apollo event at Oshkosh. I was lucky enough to be sitting in the fifth row! (That’s one perk of one of your bosses being a retired astronaut.) Didn’t take a lot of photos because I was trying to sit back and enjoy this event, and the splitting migraine didn’t help. But all in all, this was a wonderful evening.

Approaching the finish line

It’s kind of hard to believe that I’ll be done with my internship in a few weeks! Well, sort of. I’ve also been kept so busy here that I’ve barely noticed the days going by. I know that it’s the summer around here because of the soul-bleaching heat, but other than that? I’ve kind of lost track of the time.

But yeah, I’m almost done. I’ve been keeping track of my tasks on a whiteboard near my desk – partly because it’s easier for me than a spreadsheet, and also so that there’s a handy reference in case anyone thinks I’m just spinning my wheels – and while it doesn’t look like I’ve done very much, the fact is that I’ve finished about twenty projects in the space of two and a half months and will probably be up to thirty or so by the time I leave. I mentioned some of my projects during my final presentation yesterday, but I didn’t go into full detail because I didn’t want to put people to sleep. Continue reading “Approaching the finish line”

The Wild World of Social Media Management

One of the projects I’ve been given during my internship is the task of managing some of our affiliate social media accounts. It’s been pretty good for the most part. There are a few facepalm-worthy trends, though:

  1. Vaguely smartass questions that could be answered by reading the article that you’re commenting on.
  2. Talking smack about one of your company’s big contracts when you have your corporate affiliation prominently listed in your Twitter bio.

The first one is just garden-level obnoxiousness that’s easily ignored. The second? There’s really not a word to describe how dumb that is. Or maybe there is – it’s probably a long compound word in German or Russian that I haven’t learned yet. Anyway.

Here’s a basic rule of thumb for you that’s painfully obvious but apparently bears repeating: If it’s something you wouldn’t want your boss or a hiring manager to read, don’t post it on social media where it can be easily found.

If you’re in the US and reading this, don’t @ me about free speech. Yes, you can say whatever the hell you want to, but the First Amendment doesn’t protect you from the consequences if it ventures into the realm of libel or slander. So if you must vent, do yourself a big favor and stay away from Twitter or Facebook or whatever your platform of choice happens to be. It isn’t worth making yourself look like an idiot and possibly making it difficult for you to land or keep a job.

Adventure at AirVenture – or, Surviving Oshkosh as an Airshow Newbie

One of the central projects of my internship was helping in the planning for one of our biggest annual trade show appearances and then tagging along to offer support at our booth. I saw from reading the website that AirVenture is one of the biggest airshows of its kind in the world, and the attendance stats from last year were mindboggling. That said, nothing can really prepare you for an event of this magnitude if you’ve never been to it before. The last time I went to an airshow, I think I was probably five or six and I didn’t really see anything because my glasses broke within ten minutes of us getting there. I was pissed off. So, AirVenture was my chance to make up for that…

And holy cow, did it.

Continue reading “Adventure at AirVenture – or, Surviving Oshkosh as an Airshow Newbie”

Not dead, just resting

I know it’s been a little bit dead around here for the past few weeks, and that’s on me. Most of the time has been taken up with planning for and carrying out the two employee appreciation events that we’ve had lined up for Propulsion Systems. Those were the two minor-league baseball games, in case anyone’s been keeping track. I was the company photographer for the Ogden Raptors ballgame. It was my first time doing crowd photography, and I’d like to think that I did pretty well. I’ll share just one photo from that event.

Photo: Shelby Miksch/Orbital ATK

Another cool thing that’s happened in the interim is that I got to take a tour of the Bacchus Plant! I got to see a lot of interesting stuff while I was there, but since a lot of it is proprietary, I can’t go into it here. Let’s just say that I got walked through the production cycle of some of the signature products made at the plant and keep it at that. After the tour, a bunch of interns got a catered lunch and listened to Flight Systems Group President Scott Lehr talk about his career. We also got some prime work advice. A lot of it was aimed at students who are a lot younger than me who are just starting out in the workforce, but even so, it was good for me to hear.

Last but not least, I got to work at my first trade show! I supported the Orion/SLS industry team at our booth in the NASA Pavilion at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. AirVenture is one of the biggest airshows in the world and I got to see so many amazing things while working there that it deserves its own post – which I’ll probably get to tomorrow, because I just got back in from Wisconsin today and I’m pooped. But it was great.

So yeah. Stay tuned for a post about last week’s adventure at AirVenture – along with some good photos.

Parts of a Whole

I stood on a metal platform at the top of a flight of stairs earlier this morning and looked across a cavernous manufacturing floor. The view wasn’t particularly picturesque and a photo of what I was looking at wouldn’t have caused many waves outside of a trade magazine. But I was captivated, so I paused for a moment to drink it in.

I’m not an engineer by trade, nor a mechanic – that much should be blatantly obvious – and the most familiarity I have with manufacturing facilities is from touring the boat plant where my dad works. That said, I knew that I was looking at salvaged solid rocket booster casings that had, in their prior working life, been used to launch a Space Shuttle.  Continue reading “Parts of a Whole”

Impostor Syndrome’s Ugly Cousin

I wrote up a spreadsheet today to keep track of how many tasks I’ve finished during this internship and how many I have in progress. Out of fifteen tasks, one is finished – but that one was fairly simple. I have a lot to work on, but I’m not panicking because I know what I’m doing and it feels nice to be trusted to get work done.

But it’s still hard for me to take a sincere compliment. When someone else tells me that I’ve done a good job, part of me wants to say “Hell yeah, I know I’m good.” That urge is held in check by a stronger inner voice that keeps telling me to check myself before I wreck myself. Don’t let it go to your head, it says.

Maybe it’s because the modus operandi I’ve employed for most of my life is to do my job, do it well, and do it quietly. It helped me get through boot camp relatively unscathed – which is hard to do when you’re a scrawny teenager with coke bottle glasses and poofy red Carrot Top hair. But I’ve survived this long by being quiet, and it startles the crap out of me when anyone gives me any kind of positive attention. So when I found out that my department nominated me for a prestigious scholarship at the end of this last quarter, I was flabbergasted. When both my supervisor and my team lead looked over my first official pitch letter recently and said that it has “a lot of great ideas,” I genuinely didn’t know what to do.

It’s all too easy to look at someone who has this kind of problem and say “Well, duh, you’re supposed to say thank you.” But if you’ve experienced this, you know the feeling. It’s not quite impostor syndrome, but close enough. Like impostor syndrome’s ugly cousin. I know that I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t deserve it, though, and I wouldn’t be trusted with so many projects if I hadn’t demonstrated some kind of competency. So even though I’m still staying quiet, I’m re-learning how to say thank you.

It’s not easy.

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