Author Topic: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist  (Read 804 times)

Offline DiskOperatingSystem

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Hey there NSF, didn't even realize you had a careers page. I've lurked NSF for quite a while and now I have to make this my second ever post. So I've been into space for as long as I can remember when I heard there was a space station above me, and it just blew me away. I mean like, nobody was even phased that we had an orbiting lab under construction? What?! Anyway, ever since then I've been bouncing back and forth between career goals, but spaceflight is the one constant interest that I've never let go of. Only problem is, I have a disability in math, that extends to science. It's been frustrating for years because I felt without skills in these two areas, I would never find anything right for me. Suffice to say, after years of discouragement and upset, I read a thread in which a NASA scientist talked about how far reaching their jobs are. That not everybody who works there is an engineer, in fact, most are not. This then led me down a path and I started looking into PR because, although I may not have the engineering and science mindset, I can talk for hours on end about ISS, space shuttle, and Apollo. I mean, mostly ISS but... I still am feeling discouraged from this career path in PR for NASA or a company in the industry because I'm not going to school for engineering. I think really my question is, how do I begin? Do I take an engineering course that I know I won't follow? I occasionally come across things on NSF or Reddit threads that I don't understand, and it frustrates me to no end. I know that I want to work in this field somehow, whether it be writing for a publication or PAO for NASA. I think you guys might be able to help me figure out a path. Feel free to ask questions. Thanks!

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #1 on: 09/24/2017 03:29 PM »
Tell us more about what you are doing now.  What are you studying and how far along are you?  What kind of work experience do you have?

Offline DiskOperatingSystem

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #2 on: 09/24/2017 03:33 PM »
Currently, I'm in my fourth week of Community College. This is my first year and while I'm going there as a communications major, I was invited into their honors program, which is at this rate one giant philosophy class. I've done nothing related to communications. For work experience, there in lies the rub. I have none. I really don't know where to begin. I know I don't need to start off writing for SPACE.COM, but still, I'm lost. Part of the no-work experience is due to me wanting to focus on school and just be a full-time student. I also want to add, that I a not at all interested in philosophy. I'm simply taking honors to see if the program is right for me.
« Last Edit: 09/24/2017 03:53 PM by DiskOperatingSystem »

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #3 on: 09/24/2017 08:56 PM »
First of all don't get too frustrated.  A lot of people have trouble figuring out where they fit in life.  Now's actually a good time to start doing some research on what jobs exist in the space community and what you might find interesting.

If you live close to any company or government center related to space you need to find someone who works there who can give you a little idea of what they do and what kind of people they hire.  See if your college's placement office has any relationship with one of these possible employers.  Go talk to them to find out what kind of people they are hiring.

Go to the jobs pages on websites of potential employers and look at the jobs they are listing and read the descriptions.  E-mail HR people at these companies and tell them what your situation is and ask them to make recommendations.

Look into marketing companies that do work for aerospace firms.  Blue Origin just had their New Shepard rocket on display in Oshkosh this past summer.  Some of the people working the crowd and developing the message they are trying to sell work for that marketing firm.  Being a non-technical person can sometimes even be an advantage because these companies need to be able to relate their message to the rest of the world where most people aren't engineers and scientists.  You hopefully could learn how to deliver that message.

Good Luck.

Offline envy887

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #4 on: 09/25/2017 03:26 PM »
Every organization has lots of non-engineer/scientist roles, e.g. program managers, supply chain, sales, marketing, graphic design, IT, human resources, finance, public relations, etc. Some of these roles are highly technical but not math intensive, while others are not technical at all.

If you like communications, I'd recommend looking at program management, sales, marketing, and public relations first.

Offline DiskOperatingSystem

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #5 on: 09/26/2017 01:39 AM »
Hey, busy day today so I'm just now getting back. I'm aware that many companies have other jobs that aren't directly related to engineering or science. I've been trying to figure out first, what is right for me. What sort of involvement really fits for me in the space industry. What I would truly love, and when people ask me what I want to do, I give them a brief "I want to teach people about space." I know this can take the form of PR or working at a museum but I don't really know the specifics of what where I want to work. I know I sound like I'm reaching for the stars (pun intended?). Another problem is, I live in Philly. And as we all know, Philly is obviously the space capital of the world (sarcasm). So I have two problems: what I want to do and my proximity to resources. I've thought about setting up an informational interview with the PA office at NASA in DC, but I need help with connecting to someone. Another thing is that, well, I'm not all that interested in PR. Oh boy am I not prepared for this. I'm looking at PR just purely as a dream to work in the industry. Also a side note, I've looked into PR for something like SpaceX, and I've heard that their PAOs are mostly engineers. Is this true? I have yet to visit the placement office but I will be going to them sometime in the next few months.

Offline jon.amos

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #6 on: 09/27/2017 02:32 AM »
Close To Philadelphia, PA Lockheed has two facilities that are hiring now.  Not directly space but a foot in the door.  Get a couple of years of school finished, with good grades, and look for Collage Work Education Program (CWEP) opportunities.  You don't have to be an engineer, one of my current colleagues has a degree in fine arts and was a sculpture.  He now works in additive manufacturing modeling tools for 3D printing. 
“The light bulb wasn’t invented by continuously improving the candle…it was about understanding what the job to be done was and then stepping back to look for solutions to solve this”

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #7 on: 09/27/2017 03:03 AM »
I've been trying to figure out first, what is right for me. What sort of involvement really fits for me in the space industry.

I always counsel people to do what they love, but in life sometimes you can't get paid well enough to do that as a job. So sometimes you end up doing something you are good at, and like, but it's not the ultimate thing you'd like to do if you had the choice.

But many of us that spend time on NSF and other space-related forums don't work in anything space-related, so "space" is a avocation (an interest, hobby, etc.), and not a vocation (an occupation).

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What I would truly love, and when people ask me what I want to do, I give them a brief "I want to teach people about space." I know this can take the form of PR or working at a museum but I don't really know the specifics of what where I want to work.

If there are any museums near you that are space-related, volunteer there. That would be a start.

There is a big difference between PR and teaching though, so I would talk with a career councilor at your college about how to tell if either would be a passion for you.

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I know I sound like I'm reaching for the stars (pun intended?).

Life hopefully will be a long journey for you, so understanding what you like and don't like is good. And it's OK to set goals for yourself so that you can measure your progress - even if life doesn't follow the path you planned.

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Another problem is, I live in Philly. And as we all know, Philly is obviously the space capital of the world (sarcasm).

What about the Franklin Institute? They have a number of space-related exhibits.

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So I have two problems: what I want to do and my proximity to resources.

Hopefully there is more than one thing you are passionate about, and if so don't discount it. It's always good to have options in life, because you never know what the future holds - both good and bad.

While you figure out everything else, why don't you become a regular contributor on NSF? Passion is good, but I know for me I learn something every time I come here - and I've been coming here for years. And sometimes engaging with others is a way to discover new things that can be helpful in the future.

My $0.02
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline DiskOperatingSystem

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #8 on: 09/27/2017 03:27 AM »
Thank you all for your input. It's been very insightful and I have a lot to think about. Funnily enough, since I posted this, an opportunity to volunteer at the Franklin Institute as an "exhibit facilitator" has opened up. FI, imho needs to update their space exhibit. It's pretty outdated. I presume the last time additions were made was when the MERs were on their way to mars! They do have an Apollo 15 sample and a sokol suit, A7L cover, and an LCG, so at least there's that. When I found out about this volunteer opportunity, I jumped right on. It really would be a great way to gain experience and get my foot in the door, regardless if it pays or not. I'm pushing through my classes trying to keep the goal in mind cause as dreadful as it is now, it'll be worth it. I know that careers change, like the sculptor you mentioned jon. Reminds me of the space shuttle curator at Udvar-Hazy who's a lit major I believe! Also, I have considering joining L2 for a while, but I'm gonna hold off for now. I used to read NSF multiple times a day but my readership has declined slightly (other things going on, I still love NSF). I'll definitely be talking to a career counselor about PR vs. teaching. It's definetly helpful to know that I may be unhappy with PR as it's not what I anticipated. I try to learn as much as I can from forums so I'm better suited if I ever end up where I want to be. I actually didn't know there were Lockheed facilities near Philly (except for the one in king of prussia that's sandwiched between a movie theater and the mall)  I'm currently reading ''First Man" about Neil Armstrong and I think it's to blame for my uptick in motivation :P. The reason I keep looking toward the future is this kind of thing does frighten me. Ending up with a job I hate is petrifying as I know that if I'm not passionate, I won't put in all my effort. 

Sorry I jumbled all your responses together. Hope this makes sense :)


P.s. One other factoid about FI before I wrap up. The telescope they have on the roof is very very rare. All of them were melted down to scrap metal for the war, so there are only a few remaining!
« Last Edit: 09/27/2017 03:31 AM by DiskOperatingSystem »

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #9 on: 09/27/2017 02:59 PM »
Thank you all for your input. It's been very insightful and I have a lot to think about. Funnily enough, since I posted this, an opportunity to volunteer at the Franklin Institute as an "exhibit facilitator" has opened up.

I think it would be a good opportunity to see if your interests align with public education.

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FI, imho needs to update their space exhibit. It's pretty outdated. I presume the last time additions were made was when the MERs were on their way to mars!

This being the first time you work/volunteer for a museum, spend the first few weeks listening and taking in information. Don't make suggesting right away unless asked.

I say this because you will want to learn about why they do things the way they do, both in front of the public and out of view of the public. THAT will be very educational, because no doubt you will find that a lack of money keeps them from doing a lot of things they would like to do - so they have become very good and stretching their budgets. It's a fact of life that would be very educational to learn before making suggestions.

Best wishes!
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline DiskOperatingSystem

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Re: Jobs in the industry for a non-engineer, non-scientist
« Reply #10 on: 09/27/2017 07:37 PM »
Oh, I was purely talking about my own opinion from years of going to FI. I don't want to make it sounds like I'm going to walk in and start pointing out whats wrong with it. I know how much trouble museums have with money/funding/public interest. I'm stating that opinion outside of the fact I'm looking at this opportunity. FI is a great museum with some amazing stuff like a dome iMax (not something in every museum!), a giant heart, and a full sized steam engine (that they used to move like 5 feet). Sorry for the confusion.

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