Monday, August 2, 2021By:
Hello everyone! Crazy to think my dream internship will be ending in less than two weeks. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity despite the challenges the pandemic posed on the GSFC and SPS. This past week was extremely busy between informational interviews, meetings, NASA events, and working on my project. I’m excited to share what I did this week and some advice on networking remotely.
Monday started with my last check-in meeting with Kayla and updating my progress report for my mentor. Afterwards, I had an informational interview with Ryan Kramer, Assistant Research Scientist working in the Climate and Radiation Laboratory. He shared his experience as a NASA postdoctoral fellow and how he obtained a full-time position this past January. The day ended with the instrumentation and science & analysis meetings. On Tuesday, I had the MKID meeting in the afternoon and had to end my day earlier than usual for a doctor's appointment. On Wednesday, I had our weekly high-fidelity simulation meeting with my mentor where I got to show my progress on my project. Later on, I had an informational interview with Tiffany Lewis, a postdoctoral fellow in the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory, who studies blazers and astrophysics theories. The day ended with meeting my USF research advisor, Dr. Jacob Gayles, to work on my research proposal for the NSF GRFP. On Thursday, I had another informational interview with Zach Nasipak, a postdoctoral fellow in the Gravitational Astrophysics Lab. Afterwards, I attended an agency-wide information session on the Pathways program, which is something I am considering applying for while in graduate school. Friday, I had one more informational interview with Emily Barrentine, the spectrometer lead for EXCLAIM. Emily gave me a lot of useful information on NASA’s fellowship, postdoctoral, and pathways programs. She also discussed a few potential career paths with me with my PhD in Applied Physics. Later in the evening, I had a work dinner with my research group at USF, which was the first time I got to meet everyone in person.
Overall Experience & Feelings
One of the difficult downsides to working virtually is the limited opportunities to network. You no longer have the ability to make simple personal connections from running into someone in the hallway or being able to build rapport with someone at a lecture or conference. It takes a lot more effort to forge these online networking opportunities yourself, but they can be equally rewarding! You will be surprised how many people are willing to meet with you virtually over Zoom or Teams, but it requires you to send that initial cold email to spark these conversations. As an intern, you have an “in” to network with individuals within your organization more so than if you were just a normal student. One of the best ways I have networked during my internship is by reaching out to people via email for informational interviews. Here are some of my tips for networking virtually:
Send 1-3 cold emails a week asking to meet for an informational interview.
Always send a follow-up email after meeting with someone and thank them for taking time out of their day to meet with you.
Follow anyone you meet on LinkedIn as a way to contact them again in case you lose their email information and to follow along with their career. Congratulate them for new positions, publications, etc. Maintaining connections is the hardest part, so make sure to use platforms like LinkedIn.
End every informational interview asking “do you have any recommendations for other people I should talk to or other resources I should explore?” The best thing about networking is the endless network! Those you meet will introduce you to their colleagues and their colleagues will introduce you to their friends/other colleagues and so on. You should also ask if there are any additional resources you should look into.
The most important relationship to build first is with your mentor.
Overall, I am happy I made a lot of connections this week, and I am looking forward to wrapping things up with my project over the next few day.
Gina Pantano (she/her/hers)