The whole experience of 3 months at NASA was amazing. I worked in the Orbital Mechanics area (which was my favorite class at WPI) on the Discovery Diana mission. I worked on a program to calculate how much time the solar electric powered space craft would spend in shade and sunlight and presented to NASA Branch Chief's and Staff. I smiled every day going to work and would get caught many nights working late by NASA engineers who would go on to tell me to go out and have fun.
When I was there I even got to meet Sally Ride and get her Autograph. That was amazing. I had her picture up in my room for years.
The Branch Chief at NASA loved my work and wanted to hire me but couldn't at the time. Instead he did the next best thing and gave me personal contacts at several NASA contractors. I reached out to all of them and then Martin Marietta came to interview at WPI. I was selected and found out who was interviewing me. I let the guys at NASA know and they had worked very closely with this person in the past. So I did a little name dropping and got passed on to the on-site interview with Martin Marietta Defense Systems in Pittsfield, MA. They hired me in to the Engineering Leadership Development Program which was meant to build leaders in the company. At the same time I went for a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. To make a long story short, I worked several years with Martin Marietta who then became Lockheed Martin but was never really happy. It was not what I had pictured. I worked on black boxes, test equipment, decoys for aircrafts, and a liquid propellant gun. This was not the dream of the Space Shuttle or Orbital Mechanics I once had. I did apply for the Astronaut Program through NASA figuring I might as well. I knew my chances of getting picked were very slim but I did have the degree and some experience. Everytime I got a thick envelope from NASA I would get all excited, but it was just to renew my application. Worth a shot though. Who knows, crazier things have happened.
Unfortunately for me this interview question's answer tells the story...On an interview recently with BAE Systems they asked me what is your biggest career regret. Well for me it was going to school for Aerospace Engineering (so really a decision made in 6th grade is my biggest career regret). When I got out of college it was recommended I only list Mechanical Engineer on my resume and not even list Aerospace with the limited amount of Aerospace jobs with all the budget cuts. I know at this point NASA is getting cut even more.
Now I think overall other jobs would have been a better fit. I spent days upon days looking at part-time jobs and they are mostly in medical areas such as Therapy. I highly respect people who can make a change in direction of their career at any point. At this point I feel too invested and don't want to have to start at square one to do something different especially with two kids that are my focus. It is not that I hate what I do, I like Project Management and being a Business Analyst, it is just the dream I thought I had was only fulfilled for a fleeting 3 months. But that's ok.
So when people say to me "It's Not Rocket Science", my response is "No it isn't, but I wish it was."
So what did you want to be when you grow up and are you doing it? Comment and let me know.