Author Topic: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern  (Read 17765 times)

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #20 on: 01/28/2016 05:32 PM »

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.

Sustainable is, by definition, "in the long run".

Some of us are Alpha personalities. Work is the stuff of life. I would love to see a SpaceX intern's unofficiated opinion.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2016 05:32 PM by The Amazing Catstronaut »
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Offline rpapo

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #21 on: 01/28/2016 06:01 PM »
The meaning of "internship" seems to have morphed over my lifetime.  When I was going to the University of Michigan in Dearborn in the late 1970s, you were permitted to enter their internship program if you survived the first two years of their degree program with good grades.  They did the scouting for you, and if you liked what you saw you could interview for a position.  The position I obtained was one in which I worked a semester, studied a semester, and so on until I graduated.  During my working semesters the company paid me nearly three times the minimum wage of the time, gave me full medical benefits. . . and worked me to the bone (or so it felt like, at the ripe old age of 20).  It was a good experience, and led directly to my first job after graduation.  Another of my classmates still works for the company she interned with, over 35 years ago now.

By contrast, I keep hearing about internships being unpaid positions nowadays.  Is this a universal change?  And when did it happen?
« Last Edit: 01/28/2016 06:31 PM by rpapo »
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Offline Svetoslav

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #22 on: 01/28/2016 06:24 PM »
This reminds me of a great movie - The Astronaut Farmer, about a person working hard, sacrificing a lot just to get to space. He did it with the support of his family.

Of course, if you're young, unmarried, you can afford to work a lot. If you're married and have children, it's possible to keep the balance. But only if your family supports you.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2016 08:10 AM by Svetoslav »

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #23 on: 01/28/2016 06:37 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!

If you can't get a class on  Unigraphics instead of AutoCAD, I would recommend learning a good 3D solid modeling package like SolidWorks or Solid Edge.  Those are probably closer to Unigraphics.  In case you don't end up at SpaceX those two are very widely used.

Offline Archibald

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #24 on: 02/01/2016 02:08 PM »
Quote
This reminds me of a great movie - The Astronaut Farmer, about a person working hard, sacrificing a lot just to get to space. He did it with the support of his family.

Reminds me of Stephen Baxter Voyage, when the rocket engineer building the Mars Excursion Module burn himself into work, until he has a heart attack (and his wife atempts at her life because he neglects his family life) ... "they call it the Ares syndroma"
« Last Edit: 02/01/2016 02:09 PM by Archibald »

Offline OxCartMark

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #25 on: 03/27/2016 02:46 PM »
The meaning of "internship" seems to have morphed over my lifetime.  When I was going to the University of Michigan in Dearborn in the late 1970s...

...By contrast, I keep hearing about internships being unpaid positions nowadays.  Is this a universal change?  And when did it happen?
I'm no expert but one of the worlds I hang out in has a lot of art majors and other far from technical degrees.  It appears to me that they have some tendency to do unpaid internships or anything to get a a job vs. the engineering students (some from UMD, arguably walking distance from here) who get paid for their learning experience in industry.  But the term typically used (or the program) is "co-op" in that case.  Reasonable money, probably approximating the 3x minimum wage you experienced.

Offline rpapo

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #26 on: 03/27/2016 06:43 PM »
The meaning of "internship" seems to have morphed over my lifetime.  When I was going to the University of Michigan in Dearborn in the late 1970s...

...By contrast, I keep hearing about internships being unpaid positions nowadays.  Is this a universal change?  And when did it happen?
I'm no expert but one of the worlds I hang out in has a lot of art majors and other far from technical degrees.  It appears to me that they have some tendency to do unpaid internships or anything to get a a job vs. the engineering students (some from UMD, arguably walking distance from here) who get paid for their learning experience in industry.  But the term typically used (or the program) is "co-op" in that case.  Reasonable money, probably approximating the 3x minimum wage you experienced.
Yes, we called it "co-op" then.  I don't remember the term "internship" from those days.

So you're in the Glass House, eh?  I still live and work in the Detroit area myself.  Though I did my co-op in a paid position at the tractor company Massey Ferguson, it was in their computer room.  I completed my degree in Mechanical Engineering, but have never done that work for a living.  I got hooked on computers in my freshman year at UM-D, it became my hobby and obsession, and has been my career since then.

We've got a number of Michiganders on NSF, it seems.
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Offline Lar

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #27 on: 03/27/2016 07:42 PM »
We've got a number of Michiganders on NSF, it seems.

Great Lake State, REPRESENT! (off topic, off topic...)

When I was an undergrad at Da Tech, we called it co-op too. A fair few of my fraternity brothers (EE, ChemEng, ME, EM, Mining, etc) did it. Comp Sci folk like  me tended not to.
« Last Edit: 03/27/2016 07:44 PM by Lar »
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Online Comga

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #28 on: 03/28/2016 03:43 AM »
The company at which I work, also in aerospace, has an extensive internship program  Every year we bring in several dozen young people, usually engineering students who have completed their junior year, for ten weeks.  Each student is doing real professional work under the supervision of one or more senior staff, and does a wrap-up presentation at the end. The project work is paid for by the programs, so it has to be professional quality contributions. The company arranges housing, and organizes social events, including a non-work project.  Those additional things used to be paid for by the corporation, but that has been greatly reduced. In some ways, these are extended job interviews, without open positions, but many interns have been hired after graduation.  There are always many more applicants than positions available.

Another aerospace company in the region has a similar intern program, and they two groups associate and cooperate.

The bottom line is these are well paid summer jobs, NOT volunteer efforts.

But this isn't about SpaceX interns either, even if it is closer to relevant than whooping it up about a particular state.
« Last Edit: 03/28/2016 03:45 AM by Comga »
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Offline OxCartMark

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #29 on: 03/29/2016 02:29 AM »
Great Lake State, REPRESENT! (off topic, off topic...)
Yes there do seem to be a lot on NSF but it makes sense. IIRC, California and Michigan are the hot spots for engineers and engineers generally like rockets because much of the modern crop was born from watching rockets in the first heyday.  A Michigan thread would be interesting but would need to be in some far off corner of NSF so as to not have posts such as this in the middle of the road.

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Ya eh? I've seen my share of snow too. We could have a NSF pasty party some time.

Offline Chilly

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #30 on: 05/16/2016 03:04 PM »
Our son is matriculating at U. of Cincinnati this fall as an Aero Engineering major, and their co-op program is integrated with the curriculum. Beginning sophomore year, all the engineering students spend every other semester off campus on paid internships. It takes an additional year to graduate but they've racked up a year and a half of paid work experience.
Besides figuring out where they may want (or *not* want) to work, they're paying for a substantial chunk of school this way. We've been told we essentially only have to finance the first 3 semesters, after that most kids pay as they go.
We'll see how that works out in reality but one can dream...
« Last Edit: 05/16/2016 03:05 PM by Chilly »
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Offline rpapo

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #31 on: 05/16/2016 03:39 PM »
Our son is matriculating at U. of Cincinnati this fall as an Aero Engineering major, and their co-op program is integrated with the curriculum. Beginning sophomore year, all the engineering students spend every other semester off campus on paid internships. It takes an additional year to graduate but they've racked up a year and a half of paid work experience.
Besides figuring out where they may want (or *not* want) to work, they're paying for a substantial chunk of school this way. We've been told we essentially only have to finance the first 3 semesters, after that most kids pay as they go.
We'll see how that works out in reality but one can dream...
I had a paid internship in Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering.  Through my junior and senior years at the University of Michigan, I alternated between working a semester and studying the next.  They paid me very well while I worked, and they worked me a lot of overtime, but I don't think I could have stretched those earnings to cover both my working and studying terms while living away from home.  I lived at home, which saved a lot of money.  But we lived only 20-25 minutes drive from the school, so we could do that.

BTW, that was 1978-1981.  And as a percentage of a family's income, university tuition, fees and books was far less then.  In 1976, about $500 per term.  In 1981, about $900.  My daughter's tuition, fees and books cost about $5000 per term in 2007-2008 at Eastern Michigan University, and the U of M wanted closer to $8000 at that time.  Per term.
« Last Edit: 05/16/2016 06:24 PM by rpapo »
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Offline Orbital Debris

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #32 on: 07/01/2016 06:14 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.

This analogy is poor due to the fact that I'm sure Elon Musk has many people to cover the mundane tasks associated with everyday life.  I've worked 12 on /12 off before, and it doesn't leave time for much else. 
And while he may work a lot of hours, his compensation far outstrips an intern or lower level engineer.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #33 on: 07/05/2016 04:55 PM »
Elon is a workaholic and it's probable that he's ineffective unless he's working his tail off. I think it's quite likely that interns have it easier than Elon, but that's hardly a fair comparison since almost no one is capable of sustaining the working hours that Elon does.

And I don't think that lessons that apply to Elon necessarily apply elsewhere. There are few people capable of working like Elon, few CEOs included (I can't think of any, in fact).
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Offline imprezive

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #34 on: 07/15/2016 07:51 PM »
Elon is a workaholic and it's probable that he's ineffective unless he's working his tail off. I think it's quite likely that interns have it easier than Elon, but that's hardly a fair comparison since almost no one is capable of sustaining the working hours that Elon does.

And I don't think that lessons that apply to Elon necessarily apply elsewhere. There are few people capable of working like Elon, few CEOs included (I can't think of any, in fact).

Most CEOs and C-Suite executives work similar hours to Musk. You have to be organized and have a system but there is no innate quality that enables you to grind out long hours. SpaceX is not nearly as grueling as people make it out to be. Yes people work long hours but they also eat dinner with their families in the company cafeteria, lounge in the little common areas chatting with coworkers, and come and go as they please to the gym or run errands. Most people don't gripe about how brutal the hours at Google for the same reason so many people work at SpaceX. It's not a place where you have your work in a little box and then your life in another box it's a place where they interweave. Frankly it's better than a lot of other industries like finance, management consulting, or big law.
« Last Edit: 07/15/2016 07:51 PM by imprezive »

Offline Hobbes-22

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #35 on: 07/16/2016 08:27 AM »
People certainly do gripe about Google and other companies that foster an unhealthy work/life balance. People don't last long in a workplace that demands all of their energy, so lots of employees are burned out and leave after a couple of years.
In the IT world, this is unfortunately not uncommon. It's helped along by the lack of worker organization in the field.
Google can (sort of) get away with treating people as disposable because there's always another programmer to take the place of the last one, but it's a lousy way to build institutional knowledge. Google et al have a constant brain drain going, and frankly, it shows in the quality of their products.
For SpaceX the talent pool is much smaller and the cost of losing knowledge is higher. Their advantage is people really want to work there, it's rare to see such enthusiasm for a commercial venture.

Offline kevinof

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #36 on: 07/16/2016 08:52 AM »
Ok I would have to take issue with lots of your comments here. First this is a Space X thread, not a Google one so suggest you stay on point.

Second this is NOT a new phenomenon. I've been in the IT business for over 30 years and remember as a 20 something dropping into the office at the weekend just to try something and see if it worked, only to find 5 or 6 other engineers there doing the same thing.

Couple of years ago I worked for a SV software (and hardware) business. We had a customer problem and the team had been working at it for 12 hours straight. As their boss I said pack it in, come back  at it fresh the next day and we'll get it done.  None of them moved so I ordered pizza and beers and we spent then next 18 hours working through to fix the problem.

If you make the work challenging , fun and rewarding people will work the hours they want to work and enjoy it. The onus is on management to make sure it's not abused and taken as the norm. Space X, like ANY other tech company has policies and procedures in place, and HR being HR, tick managers off when they see things they don't like (been there).

If I know one thing about staff in California is that they know their rights and are not afraid to exercise them.

People certainly do gripe about Google and other companies that foster an unhealthy work/life balance. People don't last long in a workplace that demands all of their energy, so lots of employees are burned out and leave after a couple of years.
In the IT world, this is unfortunately not uncommon. It's helped along by the lack of worker organization in the field.
Google can (sort of) get away with treating people as disposable because there's always another programmer to take the place of the last one, but it's a lousy way to build institutional knowledge. Google et al have a constant brain drain going, and frankly, it shows in the quality of their products.
For SpaceX the talent pool is much smaller and the cost of losing knowledge is higher. Their advantage is people really want to work there, it's rare to see such enthusiasm for a commercial venture.
« Last Edit: 07/16/2016 08:53 AM by kevinof »

Offline mfck

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #37 on: 07/16/2016 11:38 AM »



In the IT world, this is unfortunately not uncommon. It's helped along by the lack of worker organization in the field.
Google can (sort of) get away with treating people as disposable because there's always another programmer to take the place of the last one, but it's a lousy way to build institutional knowledge.

There are better ways to build up organizational knowledge in the 21st century, than using people's brains as distributed storage. There have been several methodologies developed and used for organizational knowledge management for years now.

I wonder if someone knows whether SX has an CKO position and who's manning it?




Offline imprezive

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Re: The exciting and grueling life of a SpaceX intern
« Reply #38 on: 07/19/2016 06:38 PM »
People certainly do gripe about Google and other companies that foster an unhealthy work/life balance. People don't last long in a workplace that demands all of their energy, so lots of employees are burned out and leave after a couple of years.
In the IT world, this is unfortunately not uncommon. It's helped along by the lack of worker organization in the field.
Google can (sort of) get away with treating people as disposable because there's always another programmer to take the place of the last one, but it's a lousy way to build institutional knowledge. Google et al have a constant brain drain going, and frankly, it shows in the quality of their products.
For SpaceX the talent pool is much smaller and the cost of losing knowledge is higher. Their advantage is people really want to work there, it's rare to see such enthusiasm for a commercial venture.

Objectively Google is highly ranked as a workplace by many sources. My point was these work lifestyles are not for everybody but that doesn't make them horrible. I had a 9-5 where I made good money, had fantastic benefits, and went home everyday for dinner. It was also boring as hell and not challenging which made me miserable. Some people don't mind that because they value their personal life so much but I'd rather not spend the bulk of my formidable years working at a job waiting to go home. Different strokes for different folks. For the record I do not work at SpaceX but work in a similar corporate environment.

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