NASA will host a variety of events and interactive opportunities celebrating the agency’s interns and their contributions to its missions in recognition of National Intern Day, held this year on Thursday, July 29.
Through social media takeovers and question-and-answer sessions, podcast episodes, and more, NASA is offering a behind-the-scenes look at how interns participate in agency projects and the best routes to a NASA internship. Current interns, mentors, and internship coordinators from across the agency will share their experiences and advice for those interested in pursuing a career in STEM.
Via NASA’s internship program, interns gain hands-on experience in agency missions from Earth science research to planetary missions to the Artemis Moon missions, which will land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.
“Behind every successful NASA mission, there are interns making meaningful contributions. Our interns today truly are the Artemis Generation,” said Mike Kincaid, associate administrator for STEM Engagement at NASA. “They’re helping us to reach new heights and to send humans back to the Moon and on to Mars.”
Internships help prepare students to become part of the future workforce for the nation and at NASA, which the Partnership for Public Service recently named the “Best Place to Work in the Federal Government” for the ninth year in a row. There are many ways students can get involved with NASA, including Artemis Student Challenges, NASA’s App Development Challenge, and building tools to be tested in the astronaut training facility through the Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams (Micro-G-NeXT) challenges. For students to connect to NASA regionally, the National Space Grant and Fellowship Project has a national network of 52 consortia with more than 1,000 affiliated colleges and universities across the country.
NASA intern Sarah Adewumi offered advice for students currently considering applying for internships. “Definitely go for it,” said Adewumi, a four-time NASA intern currently working in project management and cybersecurity at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Being a NASA intern is one of my favorite experiences and truly has changed my life forever.”
The number of interns working at NASA has steadily increased as virtual internships opened the door for students who otherwise may have been unable to participate. The agency welcomed 2,495 interns in 2020 and is on track to exceed that number in 2021. During the summer 2021 term, 1,837 virtual interns worked remotely for NASA, a 14% increase over the previous summer. This year’s class of summer interns represented every state in the country, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to take part in a virtual internship,” said Timothy Denego, a student at Haskell Indian Nations University who currently is interning with Goddard through NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project for American Indian and Alaska Native STEM Engagement activity. “It’s meant a lot to me to be able to stay with my community while handling my duties as an intern and contributing to NASA’s mission. And since I’ve been working from home, I’ve been able to share the work I’m doing with family and friends and talk to younger family members about what they can do if they want to pursue a NASA internship someday.”
Former NASA interns have gone on to become astronauts, engineers, and more, building careers on the foundations of their earliest experiences at the agency.