Author Topic: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern  (Read 16633 times)


Offline Kabloona

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #1 on: 06/21/2015 08:26 PM »
700 interns? That's almost 20% of their workforce. Seems like quite a large number for the industry. I've never seen anywhere close to that number or percentage of interns in any other aerospace company.

Like the quote about flexibility. You can work any 80 hours you want. Hah.
« Last Edit: 06/21/2015 08:27 PM by Kabloona »

Online MikeAtkinson

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #2 on: 06/21/2015 08:48 PM »
700 interns? That's almost 20% of their workforce. Seems like quite a large number for the industry. I've never seen anywhere close to that number or percentage of interns in any other aerospace company.

Like the quote about flexibility. You can work any 80 hours you want. Hah.

Seems like that 700 is not all at the same time.


Offline Kabloona

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #3 on: 06/21/2015 09:04 PM »
700 per year, and if they're college interns, those would likely be concurrent in the summer.

Any way you slice it, seems like a big number to me compared to other aerospace companies. When I worked at Orbital (admittedly long ago when it was smaller) I don't think we even had an intern program. If we did, I never saw any.

Online Semmel

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #4 on: 06/21/2015 10:01 PM »
Reads like the other reports from (ex-) employees. Who ever wants to work at SpaceX has to face trick questions and who ever wants to stay there has to pretty much give up private life. I personally wouldn't trade my private life for the experience, but than again I have a family and most interns dont.
On the other hand, if I were a single nerd like 10 years ago and if there was an opportunity to work at SpaceX, I might consider it. Nerds are used to that kind of labor. They put it on them selfs all the time without payment or anything in return but satisfaction of doing something cool. There is hardly anything cooler than building rockets in this world.

Offline inventodoc

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #5 on: 06/22/2015 09:13 PM »
The sounds like a great experience. I do worry about the employees. An organization cannot sustain that mode forever because they will grind their employees down. At some point people need a personal and family life.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #6 on: 06/22/2015 10:29 PM »
The sounds like a great experience. I do worry about the employees. An organization cannot sustain that mode forever because they will grind their employees down. At some point people need a personal and family life.

I just love this. Elon has five kids that he sees regularly, while working two jobs that most of us couldn't even imagine how to do. I'm pretty sure the interns have it easy, in comparison.

Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? The slowest possible.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #7 on: 06/22/2015 11:29 PM »
SpaceX was founded 13 years ago. At what point do people acknowledge that yes, actually, SpaceX's work style IS sustainable (even if it isn't for everyone)? How long?
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Patchouli

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #8 on: 06/22/2015 11:47 PM »
The sounds like a great experience. I do worry about the employees. An organization cannot sustain that mode forever because they will grind their employees down. At some point people need a personal and family life.
They do have a high turn over rate but people work for them because they feel they're doing something greater then a typical engineering job which may pay more and have much shorter hours.
There's a post from a former Spacex employee in this thread.
https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/309990/why_does_spacex_require_such_long_hours_instead/
One of the challenges they'll likely face in the future will be transitioning from functioning like a startup and operating more like an established company as the market matures.
I am somewhat worried about an accident happening as not only does productivity fall off a cliff but long hours also increases mistakes.

SpaceX was founded 13 years ago. At what point do people acknowledge that yes, actually, SpaceX's work style IS sustainable (even if it isn't for everyone)? How long?
It's only sustainable as long as the supply of fresh recruits keeps coming and they have a reputation of doing greater things then other aerospace companies but at some point their work policy may have to change to something sustainable in the long run.


« Last Edit: 06/29/2015 12:42 AM by Patchouli »

Offline NovaSilisko

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #9 on: 06/22/2015 11:49 PM »
I am somewhat worried about an accident happening as not only does productivity fall off a cliff but long hours also increases mistakes.

That's my big worry as well. Haste and overwork are the best ways to nurture screw-ups. And when you're dealing with rockets, screw-ups tend to have a pretty big impact...
« Last Edit: 06/22/2015 11:50 PM by NovaSilisko »

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #10 on: 06/23/2015 01:15 AM »
I'm reminded of the stories of workers in the Mercury through Apollo years, both for NASA and for the contractors, who worked 70-hour weeks but were so excited by what they were doing that they would have worked more had it been physically possible.  I've heard that the same kind of thing happened in the old Soviet space industries, as well.

Yes, there's high turnover -- that kind of thing just isn't for everyone.  But while you're pushing to achieve a Great Thing, just being a part of making it happen can result in this almost manic way some engineers have thrown themselves into previous programs.  We may be seeing that same phenomenon here.
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Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #11 on: 06/23/2015 01:43 AM »
The sounds like a great experience. I do worry about the employees. An organization cannot sustain that mode forever because they will grind their employees down. At some point people need a personal and family life.

I just love this. Elon has five kids that he sees regularly, while working two jobs that most of us couldn't even imagine how to do. I'm pretty sure the interns have it easy, in comparison.
And Mr. Musk is divorced from the mother of his five children.  I don't know the reason(s) leading to this in the Musks' case.

I seem to recall, anecdotally, that a LOT of NASA civil servants and NASA contractors during the golden age of Apollo ended up divorced due to the stress/grueling hours?

But to highlight a bigger-than-one-person issue (please forgive the opportunity to go off-topic here)...

Is sacrificing your marriage to achieve the "higher goal" worth it?

Just a thought,
Zubenelgenubi
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Offline QuantumG

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #12 on: 06/23/2015 02:45 AM »
Is sacrificing your marriage to achieve the "higher goal" worth it?

Is sacrificing your goals to hold onto a loveless marriage worth it?

The great thing about SpaceX is that no-one goes to work there without knowing what it's like - except for that guy I know who did and then whined about not being able to keep up.. I have no idea why he did that, except to have something to whine about.

Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? The slowest possible.

Offline Elvis in Space

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #13 on: 06/23/2015 04:42 AM »
Military, police officers, etc often work outrageous hours at great risk for modest monetary reward because they serve what is seen as a nobler purpose than those who push paper across a desk all day. I once traveled seven months out of the year for an enormous blue computing entity that nearly cost my marriage and for what? To improve their stock performance?

Point is that once you find something that brings meaning to your life, and that will change over time, you're quite prepared to do whatever is required. My spare time in my early twenties was wasted in far less productive pursuits than getting off this rock or furthering my future career. Being an intern or even a regular employee at Spacex sounds like a good deal to me.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2015 04:43 AM by Elvis in Space »
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Online Rebel44

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #14 on: 06/24/2015 02:21 AM »
80 hours per week? Hmmm what does it remind me? Oh, I rememmber - my current job (at large telco company). Right now I am working 9th 12 hour shift in a row, which will be followed by 1 day off and 4 more 12 hour shifts.....

Offline R7

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #15 on: 06/24/2015 12:41 PM »
Does SpaceX salary policy have the concept of overtime and overtime bonus at all or is one expected to compete with collegues to see who works the craziest hours for same fixed monthly salary?
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Online MechE31

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #16 on: 06/24/2015 05:51 PM »
Does SpaceX salary policy have the concept of overtime and overtime bonus at all or is one expected to compete with collegues to see who works the craziest hours for same fixed monthly salary?

Engineers and salaried folks do not get any OT pay regardless of hours. Hourly employees, such as technicians, get 1.5X or 2X pay.

Engineers do get pretty decent stock option/stock award packages that help make up for the lack of OT pay. Hourly employees also get stock, but the size of the grant is typically much smaller. However, private stock is a heavily delayed compensation with limited options to liquidate.

Offline D_Dom

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #17 on: 06/24/2015 10:22 PM »
I remember being an intern at NASA, they took me out for pizza on my last day. Naturally that was then and this is now, no regrets. You get what you play for.
Space is not merely a matter of life or death, it is considerably more important than that!

Online Falcon H

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #18 on: 01/28/2016 04:05 PM »
I saw that SpaceX wants interns to have familiarity with Unigraphics. Does anyone know how different this is from AutoCAD? Do you think an AutoCAD class would help me learn Unigraphics?

Thank you for the help!
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Offline Kansan52

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #19 on: 01/28/2016 04:57 PM »
My daughter needed to do an unpaid internship in her field to graduate. It wasn't grueling. But it was unpaid.

So having a paid internship with a company that helps support those interns with transportation, subsidized food, flexible hours, and doing something that excites you seems good. It's not a bait and switch operation. I'm envious but too old and too dumb to participate.

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