Joe A., an Aerospace Engineering intern from France, is currently completing his program with SETI Institute in California. He has acquired his Master’s degree at Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancees and has been studying space mechanics and astronomy since 2015. Joe hopes that by interning for the SETI Institute, he will help increase his skills in programming and detection of asteroids and develop his network in the space industry. His internship will be an excellent stepping stone for his future career.
InterExchange: Tell us about your internship search process: How did you find your host organization? How long did it take? What resources did you use, if any?
Joe: “I found my internship when I attended a space symposium in Paris that was directed by the astronaut Thomas Pesquet. The SETI Institute had a partnership with the Unistellar stand, so I talked with them to learn more about the two companies: Unistellar is designing a new AI telescope and SETI is looking for life among the stars. I decided to apply for the SETI Institute’s internship program, and they hired me two weeks later.”
InterExchange: What is a typical day at your internship like? Describe some of the tasks and activities you have been doing.
Joe: “As a junior astronomer intern at the SETI Institute, I usually start my day by writing a list of the astronomers who have observed the target asteroid of the week. Then I start to download and analyze their observations. Once they are processed, I present the results to scientists from all over the world and we discuss together on how we can improve our software. It is a lot of fun to mix different mindsets from different cultures on one specific topic.
At the end of the day, we look for another asteroid to study and launch a campaign on social media to promote our science! Once a week I take a telescope to observe nebulas, galaxies, and asteroids all night long. Such a beautiful moment for myself.”
InterExchange: What are some professional goals you have achieved thus far in your program?
Joe: “Interning at the SETI Institute has allowed me to learn more about astronomy engineering. In regards to astronomy, I observed a near-earth asteroid which flew by our planet at 20,000 km. Through the different projects I have been working on, I’ve learned the importance of developing a proof of concept for a startup and how efficient it is to automate a process by using the Python program.
Thanks to the people I’ve met from different cultures, I have become a more open-minded person who is able to work with different mindsets in a variety of stressful situations. I also became confident in presenting scientific results to a community of international scientists.”
InterExchange: In addition to the professional experience, what have you enjoyed most about interning with your employer?
Joe: “Other than achieving my professional goals, I have enjoyed my time with co-workers. We have spent a lot of time together observing the internal space station and learning about each other’s cultures. We also traveled to LA to watch a rocket launch and I was even able to travel to Hawaii. It’s been unforgettable! I also really liked learning about the start-up mindset and understanding how a company is built from the ground up.”
InterExchange: Share examples of how you’ve learned more about U.S. culture and how you’ve shared your culture with others.
Joe: “What I’ve taken away about U.S. culture is that it doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s important to just be yourself and people will love you! Some things I’ve enjoyed while living in the U.S. are some of the road trips I’ve gone on, hanging out at the parks, and going to the beaches. For example, last weekend I was on a road trip with two Americans, one Croatian, one Egyptian, and myself (French). It’s beautiful seeing how everyone from different parts of the world comes together when politics are not in the way.”
InterExchange: What would you tell a friend from your own country to encourage him/her to do an internship through InterExchange?
Joe: “InterExchange has always taken care of me. Whenever I reach out to InterExchange, they always respond to my emails in less than 24hrs and I feel like I am always supported!”