We are NASA interns contributing every day to NASA missions. We all have our own story and path to how we got to NASA, , unique intern experiences to share and we invite you to learn more about how we got here. Explore with us. Ask us anything.
Every year, thousands of students bring their diverse skill sets to NASA’s 10 centers and research facilities. In honor of National Intern Day, we have a team of interns, coordinators, and subject matter experts ready to answer your questions about NASA internships. Have you ever wanted to ask a NASA intern how they got their internship? Or hear from intern coordinators on their top application tips? We’re ready to help! We’re answering your questions on July 30th, 2020 from 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm ET. Ask us anything!
Answering your questions are:
- Kathleen Wilcox – Internship Coordinator at Kennedy Space Center, Apache-Logical JV
- Matthew Hilts -- GNU Radio Receiver Implementation and Testing Intern at Glenn Research Center
- Baylee Bourque – Pathways/Student Trainee at Stennis Space Center
- Tamsyn Brann – Design and Communication Support Intern at Glenn Research Center
- Matt McGillick – Control of Flexible Spacecraft with Structural Feedback Intern at Armstrong Flight Research Center
- Taylor Waddell – Pathways/Student Trainee at Kennedy Space Center
- Katie Jevin – Communications Intern at Johnson Space Center
- Abel Morelos – Internships Communications Coordinator, USRA
- Veronica Clauson – Internships Operations Manager
UPDATE: Thanks, Reddit for the terrific questions! It’s time for us to sign off here, but good luck in the pursuit of your own NASA internships and experiences - Happy National Intern Day!
We are delighted to hear of your interest in internship opportunities at GISS. The GISS high school opportunities are posted for summer. Typically we look for interest in earth science and interdisciplinary skill development related to data analysis and laboratory research. Please apply at intern.nasa.gov. You can find out more about GISS here
https://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/intern/ - Veronica Clauson
Thanks for doing this AMA!
For each intern: what's the weirdest/coolest thing you learned working at NASA that's unrelated to your internship focus?
Just how much astronauts lose in the air filters of the ISS. A lot of peanuts, pills, M&Ms, and screws. - Taylor
Some of the engineers and scientists out here at Armstrong managed to take Schlieren (basically shockwave) images of supersonic aircraft... from another plane! - Matt McGillick
One of the coolest thing at Glenn Research Center is the 10 x 10 wind tunnel. It was built in the 1950's and the air was originally vented out into the neighborhoods near Glenn. They had to install a huge noise reducing building to pacify the residents. - Matthew Hilts
Some NASA Goddard employees keep bees at the community garden near the center. There are a bunch of pollinator gardens and beehives, and (at least) hundreds of bees that are part of a whole thriving meadow ecosystem. I had the opportunity to spend the day exploring them while wearing beekeeping gear, and I was stung absolutely zero times. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/nasa-goddard-employees-go-green-to-save-pollinators - Tamsyn Brann
I just got an offer for fall! Do you have any tips for navigating a virtual internship experience and working with your mentors?
Do not ever feel like you are "bothering" your mentor or anyone in the group you are working with! Ask questions and do not be afraid to turn your camera on. If you have a question about something or need to give someone an update, send them a message or call them! Sometimes it's scary and hard to reach out to people strictly through email and typing, but don't be worried about that. Try to talk and communicate with everyone as much as you can! - Baylee Bourque
Yeah make sure you stay in contact with your mentors throughout the day! It can be hard to stay on the same page when it comes to virtual internships. But also make sure you have a killer work playlist, something that hypes you up to work on cool NASA things! Read more about a virtual experience and our awesome NASA mentors: https://www.nasa.gov/stem/online-no-problem-nasa-interns-work-virtually-for-summer-2020-session.html and https://www.nasa.gov/feature/national-intern-day-mentors-who-provide-out-of-this-world-internships/ - Matthew Hilts
First off – congrats, and welcome to NASA! I’d say that there are two big tips for succeeding in a virtual setting: first off, be prepared to work independently! I’ve gotten well-acquainted with quite a few online tutorials related to my project, and I think that many of the other interns can say the same. Secondly – and this might be a bit of a contradiction to my first point – never be afraid to reach out for help! The mentors and other interns always seem to be more than willing to come to each other’s aid. NASA is one, big, nerdy family after all! – Matt McGillick
What advice would you give for an incoming high schooler who wants to be an intern at NASA? Thank you!
Its so great that you are looking to intern while still in High School! I began my first internship here at NASA last year, when I had just graduated high school, and one of the interns I worked closely with was entering his senior year of high school. So it is definently possible! I'd say that this early in your career, what matters most isn't how much you know, its how you relate to others. I have been told many times that it is much more important to be a good learner and to be honest in your work then it is to have all the answers. So make sure your personality and drive to learn comes out in any applications! Best of luck! - Matthew Hilts
How have your internship programs/internship mentors helped progress your career at NASA? Have you learned new skills this summer in order to complete your project work, or did you already know what you needed to know before the internship started?
Mentors are soo important and play a crucial role in your experience! Honestly, one of the hardest things when working for NASA is understanding all the NASA language and processes. Your mentor is the person to help you through that. I did not know everything I needed to going into this internship and I am very grateful for all of my mentors! - Baylee Bourque
Hello all and thanks for hosting this!
I've applied for a number of PA/Journalism/Media-oriented internships for the Fall 2020 session and I see all internships have gone virtual as a result of the pandemic. Any information regarding how many of these opportunities will still be accepting interns, and what a virtual internship may look like?
Thanks in advance!
The mentor who posted a project has to convey that they can still do the work virtually. Then that center will search for interns matching that skill set. We’ve had many virtual communications interns this summer and they have worked on writing stories, working media, etc. NASA is still launching and running so we are still needing the work done even if it is virtual. – Veronica Clauson
Hello! Thanks so much for doing this!
I was wondering how much experience should someone have before applying to a NASA internship? (I'm a rising freshman in college, and I know that getting involved in activities is going to look different this year, due to the pandemic.)
Hi there! It's awesome to see that you're considering applying to a NASA internship early on in your career! To put things in perspective, I'm a rising sophomore in college, so I completely understand where you're coming from. With that said: apply! I had little experience compared to many of my friends who also applied, yet I was selected for an internship at Armstrong - despite having taken no classes within my major (aerospace engineering) or that were related to my summer project. My personal advice would be to show a passion for learning – whether this is through (remote) research at your college, programs/groups you participate in, et cetera - and then apply! For some more tips, I recommend checking out https://www.nasa.gov/feature/stem/10-things-you-can-do-now-to-prepare-for-a-nasa-internship.html. – Matt McGillick
Apply now! I applied as an incoming freshman myself, and I got in. There are many NASA internships that are oriented toward teaching the intern, especially at your level of education! - Matthew Hilts
You should visit our fall 2019's Virtual Career Fair to learn more about application tips for students like you! Be on the look out for a fall 2020 Virtual Career Fair as well! Link: https://youtu.be/WX5fvJnbgyA. Lastly, here at 10 things you can be doing now: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/stem/10-things-you-can-do-now-to-prepare-for-a-nasa-internship.html. - Abel Morelos
Would adding how many hours of Kerbal Space Program I have help my application?
I know NASA employees that have well over 5,000 hrs of KSP. There are areas on NASA applications to share your passion, feel free to share about KSP! - Taylor
Hey so I have applied to many Nasa internships via the NASA internship page and I never recieved a confirmation that I had submitted my application nor did i recieve any emails saying i was not chosen. Is that normal?
Also what can i do to increase my chances of obtaining an internship through NASA?
NASA Internships are very competitive, and there can be many reasons why you were not chosen. One thing to pay attention to is that you are putting your skills and knowledge clearly in your application. Look at multiple projects that you are considering and ensure that you are including the skills that are being asked for. You cannot include too many skills! - Kathleen Wilcox
Are there any internships at KSC for non-engineering students? Any science roles or is that really only available somewhere like Goddard?
Yes! While we have a lot of engineering and computer science opportunities, Kennedy Space Center has a lot of Biology, Chemistry, and even Physics students participating in internships. We also have internships in many other areas like Accounting, Communications, Education and Business. They are not just for STEM majors! - Kathleen Wilcox
What would you most like to tell us about your time at NASA?
Being a NASA intern can be intimidating at first, but everyone is so nice and welcoming. I've been able to speak with employees from across the agency, and they're always open to answering my questions and working on projects with me. - Katie Jevin
I honestly find working at NASA a little addicting, in the best way. I love space, but once I was surrounded by scientists, engineers, and researchers who were actually sending satellites beyond Pluto or looking for life on Mars, I was hooked. This summer is my third internship—I don’t want to leave! - Tamsyn Brann
Coordinators love working with interns and mentors! We work with the folks who make NASA Internships happen: our mentors! And we work with interns who are contributing to NASA missions everyday. It really is an empowering thing to watch both interns and mentors come together. Here are some stories talking about NASA mentors and interns' contributions: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/national-intern-day-mentors-who-provide-out-of-this-world-internships/ and https://www.nasa.gov/stem/online-no-problem-nasa-interns-work-virtually-for-summer-2020-session.html. -Abel Morelos
Thank you for this great AMA opportunity! I have a couple questions: 1. How many interns work for NASA each year? How does the interview/selection process look like? 2. Are they internships in the summer or throughout the year? How long do they last? 3. When is the best time to apply for an internship and who can resumes be sent to? 4. Are internships onsite or remote? If in-person, what are the most common sites in the US?
Edited: remote vs. in-person. TY!
- There are thousands of students that interns with NASA each year! To learn more about the interview and selection process, check out our fall 2019's Virtual Career Fair to learn more about the application process and tips! Be on the lookout for a fall 2020 Virtual Career Fair coming soon. Link: https://youtu.be/WX5fvJnbgyA. - Abel Morelos
- Internships are in the Spring, Summer, and Fall sessions. The Spring and Fall are for 16 weeks each, and the Summer is 10 weeks. They are similar time frames as college semesters.
- You will want to go to https://intern.nasa.gov, where you will be able to create an account where you will be able to upload your resume. Each session has final deadlines, so you will want to check the website for the specifics - however you can create your application and select your availability early.
- While many internships are currently virtual due to the pandemic, the majority of our internships are on NASA Centers. 4. OSTEM Internships are offered at all the NASA Centers. - Kathleen Wilcox
Are there many inside jokes among the staff at NASA?
We absolutely love to make fun of ourselves, especially the amount of acronyms we have! We slap acronyms on almost everything, or try to make them as weird sounding as possible. There's also a lot of weird theories out there about what NASA does, around the office we definitely joke around about these. Little things like that really keep the NASA spirit interesting - Taylor
Wow, thank all of you doing this AMA! :-)
My question: What do you consider the biggest benefit of being intern in NASA?
The biggest benefit of working at NASA is the relationship between work and worth. When I first entered the SCaN Internship Program at Glenn Research Center, I expected to have to earn my place by hard work and success in my internship. But it wasn't like that. At every problem and every failure I encountered, there were people backing me up and offering help. Even though I didn't have the answers, people took the time to help me and teach me what I didn't know. I meant so much more to them than just my success. They were, and still are, truly invested in my future. This relationship between work and worth is that your work doesn't define you here at NASA. Its important to work hard, but at the end of the day you do matter to people here, and they want to see you succeed! - Matthew Hilts
To me one of the biggest benefits of NASA is a combination of the resources and people. NASA has such a unique job and workforce, and being able to tap into that is amazing. There is so much to learn from a diverse and passionate workforce people I could spend lifetimes here. - Taylor
It’s honestly hard to pick “the biggest benefit,” but I’d have to say it’s between: a) the connections you make with the NASA employees and interns, or b) how eye-opening the internship is as a whole! I’m a first-generation college student, so spending time within the NASA community has been overwhelming – but in the best way possible. Kind of like drinking from a firehose :) - Matt McGillick
When is the best time to apply for a summer internship?
You can apply now for summer 2021! Summer is very competitive so the sooner you
can get it in – the better. Good luck! Intern.nasa.gov
- Veronica Clauson
Can a former/current STEM Engagement intern explain what happens during the period after completing the STEM Engagement application and before committing to a mentor? Additionally, what is the average number of LOR that selected NASA interns typically have? I know the minimum is 1, but how many will optimize your chances?
I'm a current STEM Engagement intern, and the process definitely depends on the center and mentor(s). You may hear shortly after you apply, or you may wait a few months before you hear back. The average number of LOR is 1 to 2. To optimize your chances, get a great letter or recommendation (or 2!) and really show why you're passionate about NASA and STEM Engagement on your application. Good luck! - Katie Jevin
Hi thanks for doing this!
Kerbal Space Program has gotten me so interested in space exploration that I'm considering going back to school for aerospace engineering. Are there any courses you recommend that would help someone stand out? Also are any of you Kerbal fans? Thanks
There are a HUGE amount of KSP fans at NASA, we love to bring out passion for work home with us. My personal favorite aerospace classes are propulsion, controls theory and orbital dynamics! - Taylor
What makes an internship at NASA stand out?
A NASA internship offers real-world experience! Interns contribution to NASA missions everyday. Besides that, the people at NASA are very invested in you personally, and the culture is great. NASA is a place where people can geek out about awesome science and unbelievable engineering with people who are like minded. That makes for a bunch of jokes and fun all the time at work, even when the work is hard! - Matthew Hilts
What kind of areas are available at NASA Kennedy for Engineering interns? I'm highly interested in Kennedy, especially Launch Operations but wanted to know what kind of areas could an intern get experience in there?
Interns at KSC get to experience a lot of great things! We have interns that are participating in developing code for the launch controls, plant research, water systems, lunar lander modules, and so much more. I would recommend that you look at projects and see what projects are currently listed and look at some of those descriptions. It really depends on what in Launch Operations you are interested in. Also, Kennedy interns (when on center) have opportunities to volunteer to help out with guest operations for launches. - Kathleen Wilcox
I have a young nephew who loves space and whose dream is to work in NASA some day. Any advice youd have for him? Also thanks for doing this AMA
It’s never to early to start that dream! NASA just published and put all of their
activities at this site: https://www.nasa.gov/stem
Reading is knowledge and encouraging him to read fiction and non-fiction books on space is a great start. Following NASA events and launches keeps it real. Also, download the “Spot the Station” app on your phone so he can see when the International Space Station flies over his house. - Veronica Clauson
What did you do in order to gain the opportunity to become an intern for NASA?
What have you gained from the experience of being an intern for NASA?
If I wanted to work in the astronomy field, what steps should I take in order to help fulfill that? Is an internship a good idea to help progress in the field, and is NASA the best group to be an intern for?
- I am a Pathways intern and I had to apply through USA Jobs. I had heard about the opportunity through word of mouth.
- From my personal experience, I would say that my personal growth and development is the biggest thing I have gained from being a NASA intern. Looking back to who I was when I started two years ago, the positive change it very obvious.
- I do not know much about the astronomy field.. BUT! I do know that NASA is the best group to intern for. (I may be a little biased) - Baylee Bourque
1) I can't say there was a single definitive thing, but I feel as though I showed my passion for learning through my essays and time spent in academic/leadership programs throughout high school and my freshman year of college.
2) Besides the massive amount of engineering knowledge and networking skills, my time at NASA has seriously helped my self-confidence.
3) I'm not certain as to what steps you should take, but I do know that NASA has plenty of astronomers - and we're the best at it :) You can search our application system to see if there are astronomy projects available!
- Matt McGillick
A few questions for Taylor Waddell:
1) As a pathways trainee, did you find yourself tailoring your later academic courseload to fit your internship requirements or Vise versa? (Taking classes to assist your NASA projects vs choosing projects that tie in with your classes).
2) what does NASA stand for again?
3) How do you feel about Tim Allen?
1) I found tailoring my later academic course load to fit my internship requirements made a lot more sense. Mostly because I wasn’t sure where I would end up in NASA, or what I would love. After spending a couple summers at NASA I really nailed down how I wanted to finish my academic career.
2) National Aeronautics and Space Administration
I'm in a position to give advice to students. What advice would you give to college seniors that haven't gotten any previous engineering internships before (and having this summer's opportunities squandered) but still would like to go into NASA? Should they go into grad school?
College Seniors should definitely look into grad school; however, they should also complete a profile on USAJOBS.com and sign up for notifications for early hires. Also, they can still apply for an internship at intern.nasa.gov. - Veronica Clauson
I’m a rising high school junior looking to apply for an internship at the GISS next summer. What kind of skills and experience does NASA look for in younger applicants like me, and is it even likely for high schoolers to be accepted?
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