By Bob Granath
NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
NASA Human Resources specialist Susan Habenicht has a daunting task. Each day she assists members of the Kennedy Space Center management team find the right people with the best skills to fill the needs of a spaceport transitioning from a historically government-only launch facility to a multiuser spaceport for both government and commercial customers.
Habenicht grew up on Long Island, N.Y., where she earned a bachelor's degree in business management at Molloy College in January of 1990.
"After graduation, I didn't put my education to use right away," Habenicht said. "I married and was a stay-at-home mom for about 11 years."
During 2001, she and her family moved to Florida's Space Coast.
"Four years after moving to Florida, I went to work for a contractor that supported the NASA Human Resources staffing office here at Kennedy," Habenicht said. "I supported the intern program known as Pathways."
Two years after starting work at Kennedy, Habenicht accepted an offer to work for the space agency.
"It was an honor to be selected," she said. "I started as a Human Resources Assistant and then became an HR Specialist in 2009. The variety in our tasks keeps the job interesting, and NASA makes this an exciting place to work."
Habenicht now focuses primarily on supporting Kennedy's Engineering and Technology Directorate as its management is putting together a team to prepare the spaceport for future programs such as Orion and the Space Launch System.
"We are spending time helping management in the various Engineering divisions optimize their staffing," she said.
Because of the nature of the work at Kennedy, the needs are often very specific.
"We have to make sure we help managers find people with the right skill set to fill their job openings," Habenicht said. "We often help job applicants with suggestions on how to prepare a resume. My most frequent suggestion is to be sure anyone reading it will understand their training, skills and experience."
Engineering and other disciplines in the space business tend to be technical, Habenicht says this must be explained so others understand what an applicant is capable of doing.
"We try to help people do the best job explaining their experience," Habenicht said.
Habenicht says that although her job is tough, it is also very satisfying.
"While some outside the space program seem surprised we are still in business, we do have a bright future," she said. "It is gratifying to know you are a part of the process to build the team that will take Kennedy well into the future."