I Wish I Was Smart Enough to Work for NASA or SETI
Per the above, I’m pretty sure the main points are 1) have a brain, 2) use your brain, 3) study hard, 4) get good grades, 5) obtain the relevant degrees and certifications necessary, 6) network, 7) actually interview at agencies and companies in the aerospace industry, and 8) be somewhat presentable and appealing. Just saying. I’m not sure why you would need to read an entire book about it. (Sorry, Brett Hoffstadt, whoever you are! You are perfectly welcome to not read my blog after my total slamming of your book.)
Anyway, If you have read my entries, you would have undoubtedly noticed my various references to NASA and SETI. The fact is that I wish that I had the smarts to obtain an engineering degree and actually work for either one of those agencies (mainly NASA, but SETI would be kick-ass, too!).
If you google “NASA”, this is what pops up under their header in the search results: “NASA.gov brings you the latest news, images and videos from America’s space agency, pioneering the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.” Yaaawn. Get better PR and marketing, please!! I almost fell asleep just copying and pasting that sentence. How are you going to motivate the youth of America to learn about science with that tagline? No way. So not sexy.
However, SETI’s? “Conducts scientific research on life in the universe.” Awesome. I mean, you can’t really get any more fantastic than that, right? (Congrats to the SETI web design consultants!)
To be able to say, “I am a rocket scientist” or “I search for extra-terrestrial life” would be fantastic. It reminds me of the That Mitchell & Webb Look sketch on BBC, where there is a dinner party where a brain surgeon says, “It’s not exactly brain surgery, is it?” to all the other guests, only to be trumped by an actual rocket scientist with his “It’s not exactly rocket science.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THNPmhBl-8I
However, I’m pretty sure that very few of those (probably none) at NASA or SETI says such things. They most likely have very specialized jobs which they deliberately try to differentiate from the others in their efforts to explain what they actually do.
I just wasn’t born with those genes. The highest I got in math was Calculus and Statistics and that was it (I hated Stats. And Econ, both macro and micro, ugh!). Most of my friends, though, are extremely naturally skilled in this area; they mainly studied computer science, a major which included in its curriculum optional or peripheral classes on quantum physics and all sorts of other cool shit.
My boyfriend in college actually said to me once that he was finally understanding how all the math he had learned throughout his life ties into the principals of theoretical physics and mechanics. Believe it or not, we were decently competitive with our GPAs and IQs (which we didn’t even know ourselves, having never been tested, nor wanted to be). I didn’t really understand that dynamic even then, since obviously in comparison, I was basically a dodo when it came to grasping what to him and my friends was elementary math.
This was much to the chagrin of my mother, who wanted to foster mini-Einsteins that would discover something astronomical, patent it, and then sell it to the highest bidder, thereby allowing her to live in the lap of luxury (sorry, mother!).
Instead, I was gifted with her strengths in the humanities, thereby steering me towards English Literature and Creative Writing. So instead of spending my time in labs striving to attain a highly regarded profession such as a surgeon, physicist, computer programmer or any type of engineer, I spent most of my time surrounded by piles of dusty books and scribbling really bad stories in journals. Watching film noir. Writing with a fountain pen. Listening to boring poetry.
I would like to point out that I did NOT wear black, smoke, and hang out on building steps ruminating about my bleak existence and indulge in young adult angst. I was somewhat of an outcast from the program since I ran year-round in cross country and track and all my friends were either science nerds or runners and swimmers instead or tortured artists. I don’t know about now, but back then, students studying creative writing usually didn’t participate in sports, because it was considered “mainstream” and doing so meant you “wanted to fit in” (gasp!!).
However, maybe NASA or SETI has a need for people who are good at writing or marketing. Perhaps one day, they’ll commission a brief piece from me about the importance of XYZ mission or ask me to pen a cute, short NASA-related children’s story. Then I could finally say that, yes, I work for NASA/SETI!! (← BTW, highly unlikely.)