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Richard Gudnitz - From Humble Beginnings to Out of This World Recruiter
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Despite his humble beginnings in a North Dakota trailer park, Recruitment and Outreach Program Manager Richard Gudnitz believes that ambition determines your future reality and encourages new recruits to believe the same.

Name: Richard Gudnitz
Title: Recruitment and Outreach Program Manager
Formal Job Classification: Human Resource Specialist
Organization He Works For: Code 110, Organization Capability Office, Office of Human Capital Management, Office of the Director

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?

I manage the recruitment and outreach programs at the Center. My duties include creating the annual recruitment plan, which is driven by the Center recruitment strategy. I am also responsible for meeting the targeted recruitment of veterans and people with disabilities to comply with Office of Personnel Management-mandated goals for these groups.

I check my Blackberry first thing every morning and then return emails and phone calls from job applicants, university contacts, and other customers both internal and external to Goddard. From time to time, I arrange informal interviews between job seekers and our managers. I also interact a lot with other NASA field centers and Headquarters on recruitment policies and coordination of Agency-sponsored recruitment events. We have 10–15 big recruitment events every year, which take place at colleges and universities and also
Photo of Richard Gudnitz› Larger image
Photo of Richard Gudnitz. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
convention centers in major cities across the United States. We are also considering incorporating different virtual interface options with students and other job seekers. We actively recruit from approximately 40 schools nationwide including schools in Alaska and Puerto Rico.

Our student programs are for employees who are already working here such as co-ops and stay-in-school students. I also team with representatives from these various colleges and universities as well as my colleagues both at Goddard and throughout NASA. My personal goal is to make sure that we hire people who have always dreamed of working here but also reach out to those who never thought about us but who would make valuable contributions to the NASA family. My personal recruiting philosophy is focused on locating energetic, team-oriented future Goddard employees.

How do you describe Goddard to new recruits?

Goddard’s campus is very collegiate. The Center has a vast natural beauty including our trees and lake. Our work world exists in a research-focused environment where everyone is always learning and challenging each other to discover the unseen.

What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their career at Goddard?

Remain visible. Seek out high-pressure, high-impact projects. Get your hands dirty. Strive to make NASA the most innovative Federal agency on the planet. We are in the unique business of scientific discovery and technological advancement that sees no borders. Make the most of this opportunity!

What lessons from your own life would you pass on to them?

I come from a military family. Both of my parents were in the Air Force. I was born in Minot, North Dakota, which is a very small town 50 miles south of the Canadian border. It would get down to near 20 degrees below zero in the winter but also go up to well over 100 degrees in the summer. Four feet of snow was commonplace for 8–9 months out of the year. I was raised in a trailer park where my imagination was piqued by moose sightings, star-filled nights, and wide-open prairies. I wondered what other parts of the world looked like and wanted to find out one day. My lesson is that no matter how humble your beginnings, your ambition determines your future reality. I haven’t been back since I left, but I plan to take my kids there someday to teach them this lesson.

If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing?

I would be a filmmaker. I love movies. I’m actually working on a script right now about a coming of age story of a young boy and his interactions with his family. I was inspired to work at NASA in part due to my fascination with George Lucas and his “Star Wars” trilogy. When I worked on Capitol Hill, I actually got to hear him speak about innovation within the Federal government.

Do you have a favorite way or place to kick back, relax, or have fun?

The beach is a great source of renewal for me. I grew up in part in Florida and California where the beaches are part of everyday life. I love to swim in the waves and build sand castles with my two sons Alexander and Niccolos. My favorite beach in the world is Ocean Beach near San Diego, California because it is old California and very laid-back.

If you could meet and talk to anybody, living or dead, who would it be and what’s the first thing you’d ask them?

It would be Pharrell Williams who is an artist, space-enthusiast, and philanthropist based in Miami, Florida. He plans to travel aboard Richard Branson’s Spaceship. After his return to Earth, I would ask him what it felt like to look down on Earth from outer space.

Is there some place in the world that you want to visit, or someplace you have been and want to go back?

I was in Tokyo during the 8.9 earthquake in March of 2011. In Japan, they call this event “3/11.” I would like to return to Tokyo which is an amazing place where ancient history clashes with futuristic visions of daily life.

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Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.