As a May 2011 engineering graduate, I became enveloped in the employment search back in December 2010. As a student I had success in obtaining internships with NASA and Boeing, so I was prepared for some tough interviews as I embarked on this career hunt. I applied to all of the major aerospace companies that I could, knowing that many of them were affected by the recent shifts in the U.S. space program. As I applied for job after job, some applications were submitted as early as September 2010, I was met with the same thing – uncertainty.
Many of the jobs I applied for were cancelled, and I grew concerned over where I should look next. I spoke with a friend one evening, and he told me about his co-op position with SpaceX in Hawthorne, CA. I was going to be in the area so he scheduled a time for me to come take a visitor’s tour of the facility. It was really exciting to see all of the work being done at SpaceX. I met with several interns and employees who were all very eager to tell me about their work. I took a tour of the facilities where they were fabricating the engines for the Falcon 9 and had lunch in the food court where they often have complimentary food for the employees. They showed me the proudly displayed Iron Man figure, a nod to SpaceX for serving as a location to shoot the popular movie. I walked by Elon Musk’s cubicle area, sitting plainly amongst the other workers’ desks providing that sense of “we are all in this together”. The best part of the visit was seeing the passion in everyone, the drive to succeed in their endeavors and the excitement about the work they were doing.
Following my visit, I searched SpaceX’s website for job openings. I found one in Cape Canaveral, FL that sparked my interest so I immediately submitted an application. Within 36 hours I was contacted by a company representative to set up a phone interview, something that was shocking to me given the applications I had submitted to other companies with no response. Following my phone interview, I had an on-site interview set up by the Human Resources Department – an experience simplified by their wonderful staff. I was welcomed to the site and was blown away by the employees at this location. Again I was met with enthusiastic team members who loved and believed in the work they were doing. It made me reminisce about my goals growing up about working in the space industry, and happy to see people my age living out their own similar dreams. After my interview I learned that Elon Musk personally reviews each candidate. It was refreshing to hear that a CEO maintains such involvement in decisions that affect the company.
It was hard to turn down the offer from SpaceX – who wouldn’t want to work for such a cutting edge company doing the very thing that so many of us engineers dream about growing up? In the end it came down to another offer was too difficult to pass on because, believe me, I had a strong desire to work with SpaceX. Yes, the company works employees hard, and yes, there is a lot of pressure riding on them as they are in the media spotlight – all the more incentive to work with them. I admit it is difficult to watch as they continue to do exciting things knowing what I had to pass on, but I hope that they are successful in their endeavors. To any college student out there on their way to graduation or to those have recently graduated – take a look at SpaceX for a potential internship or employment. Those SpaceX employees I have had the good fortune to meet show true passion for their work, and the interns have the opportunity to immerse themselves in real projects. SpaceX, keep up the great treatment of your potential employees. It means so much to those of us who are searching for our next career move and it is such an inspiration to be surrounded by your diligent employees. Thank you for being what every college student hopes for and what every young kid dreams about.