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An Intern's Story: Follow the Signs
Each June, NASA's Langley Research Center welcomes hundreds of student interns who are studying majors that lend support to NASA's mission. For the fifth year, NASA Langley is presenting some of their stories throughout the 10-week summer session.

In the spring of my senior year of undergrad, I really didn’t know what direction to go. Sure, I had some sort of idea; at least I knew what I didn’t want to do. I sent in graduate applications, thinking maybe getting an MBA right after undergrad was the way to go. I was looking around for jobs thinking maybe I would dive into the rough seas of the workforce. All of these unnerving thoughts led to frustration, and left me wondering, what’s next?

I had a lot of friends that participated in the LARSS (Langley Aerospace Student Scholars) program. They were interns in engineering, mathematics, graphic design, and other forms of artistry at the center. I knew that I could apply, but I didn’t hold my breath for acceptance. Even though I had done well in school and had some experience in writing, marketing, and other campus organizations, I still felt that I may not be able to compete with the masses of students with real world experience.

MaryAnn Jackson

MaryAnn Jackson is a LARSS (Langley Aerospace Summer Scholars Student) intern from Old Dominion University who is working for NASA Langley's Office of Strategic Analysis, Communications and Business Development. Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman

Then, walking home from class in the pouring rain, I received a voicemail: “Hi, this is Chris Rink from NASA, we are finalizing applicants and I would like to speak with you.” I walked home at lightning speed. When I was finally able to speak with Mr. Rink he relayed to me that he wanted to see my writing samples, but that everything else on my application looked great. I still held my anticipation; the other applicants may have better writing samples or more experience in the field than me. I may not be the ideal candidate NASA is looking for.

About a month later, I finally received confirmation that I had been accepted into the LARSS program. Needless to say, I was beyond ecstatic, and all of my friends at Old Dominion University were jealous.

Though I’ve only been in the LARSS program for a short time, I have had some of the best real-world experiences I could ever ask for, and the ability to learn and do so many amazing things. In the first few days, I was asked to escort a group of photojournalists up the gantry, where Neil Armstrong trained for the first mission to the moon. As I walked on the gantry and reveled in the beauty of the view 240 feet above, I thought to myself, How did I make it here?

Apart from escorting media, I have had the opportunity to write news releases on cutting-edge technology, and interview men and women who are the part of state-of-the-art technological developments at NASA Langley. I have also been provided the chance to work with the other interns in OSACB to devise a marketing implementation plan for the 100th anniversary of NASA, which is an amazing project to be a part of.

I have had the opportunity to work with a wonderful group of individuals in Office of Strategic Analysis, Communications and Business Development (OSACB). After my senior year, I would have never thought that I would have the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of experienced, skilled, and personable individuals. The experiences that I have had here in just the past few weeks have really helped me to decide what’s next in my life. NASA LARSS is affording me with one of the best opportunities I could have ever imagined.

My internship has been filled with plenty of signs that make my direction in life more clear.

MaryAnn Jackson
Old Dominion University