Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Best Week Ever

Two weeks ago was one of the most exciting weeks I can remember. I really hope I will never forget it.

As mentioned previously, I was given passes to the STS-127 Launch so I was out in Florida attempting to catch the launch after an 18 hour road trip. The launch had been scrubbed Saturday early on in the day which gave us a day on the beach; Sunday the launch was scrubbed at the T - 9 hold due to weather violations. On Sunday we had made it as far as getting on the buses and making it out to the launch viewing area before it scrubbed.

Sunday also begins the best week ever. The company who was putting the buses together originally had three of them going, the one we were on broke down. There were 14 seats left on the other buses. Some how we got some of those seats. I do not ask how.

After the scrub we came back and spent the evening touring UCF and meeting characters such as Beth Lathe, known for destroying the SEDS-UCF Space Plinko Board. It was weird being at a big school but at the same time I think I'm ready to try one for graduate school. Olin was a great size for me for undergrad, but it is time to move on to something bigger.

Monday brought us another scrub, but a day of fun. We spent the day in Cocoa Beach starting with Starbucks which is where I first heard the rumors of upcoming good news. Keri and I started acting like the crazy people we were in the middle of Starbucks which likely made all of Cocoa Beach think we're crazy. Oh well.

We hit up the Dinosaur Museum across the street for silly fun which was aimed at four year olds, but awesome none the less. After that we headed out to the Cape for another launch attempt. Keri and I were caught by the person in charge of the bus singing Journey at the top of our lungs in the parking lot so she likely has the idea that we're slightly nuts, but I'm ok with that.

The launch attempt scrubed at the T-9 min hold once again after it looked so promising earlier in the day. It was a 48 hour scrub and after our trip we knew we wanted to stick it out. Neither of us had to be home before Friday.

Tuesday we headed to Downtown Disney and saw the Lego Store, a Disney store that required a map, and more. It was also Tuesday when I finally received the job offer of my dreams.

I've been working hard to chase down a job in the space industry since September and I finally did it. I've been rejected countless times after to applying to an unknown number of jobs. I've been to both coasts and the center part of the country. I've been called technically incompetent and also been told I was going to take over the place. People have told me they have fears about me failing, since I don't fail. (Oh really?). But I never landed that perfect job. I've continually been the second choice candidate. I found two jobs in the Northeast which is an area I love but feel that I need to try something new for a while. Both of them were defense jobs, and mostly involved programing. The third job was also a defense job, working on missile production in an area of the country I'm afraid I'd melt in. Closer to right, but still not quite there.

Finally, this job came in at the last second (I was about to sign the third offer) and was everything I wanted. It is a job working on rocket avionics in a city I want to live in. Needless to say I'm happy.

Wednesday was what we came for. Our third time out to the cape was the charm. Watching a shuttle launch was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Words will never be able to do justice to it. If I there is a way to get paid to sit out and watch launches all day, I need to find out how.

After seeing a launch in person watching them on NASA TV will look tame. I was 3.3 miles away from the most beautiful thing in the world. I really have to say watching a space shuttle launch ranks above graduating from college. A mentor just gave me the best graduation gift ever. Ben sent an email after the launch that simply said "HOW ABOUT THAT, your graduation present.................." Yeah, that about sums it up.

Getting both job of my dreams and a shuttle launch in 24 hours is something I still cannot believe happened.

We began our drive back home Wednesday night after a stop at Dairy Queen. On our drive out of Florida we ran into two gas station heists. You normally only see those on TV but from the comfort of the car we got to witness the police surrounding two gas stations, and a life flight helicopter landing on the high way. We were also able to witness a super cell descending on Orlando. A fairly exciting night.

Thrusday we completed the drive home with minimal stops. Louisiana still ranks as a scary place I hope to never have to live.

Friday was the day I signed my job offer, completing an amazing week.

I still cannot believe I landed the job of my dreams and will be working on rockets. I guess it proves that a little persistence and a lot of luck pays off. Ad Astra.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Today I received a gift that I cannot even begin to say thank you enough for, passes to the STS-127 launch on July 11th. I was given these by a mentor who has been in my life since my junior year at Olin.

This opportunity made me step back and look at how things have changed in the past few years and how much I have learned from Ben. Before this relationship started I never realized the value of having someone around who is completely detached from the situation you are in. I've always had people around who I can ask for help since they've been there before me, but they've always been closely involved. Ben was completely detached. He was half a country away physically, and worlds away otherwise. The value of this became evident when my life needed to be put into perspective. What seemed to me like a big hurdle was small when put into perspective. The job search always seemed like a huge hurdle, but he helped break it down into small bits, showed me how to put the big picture together, and win at the game.

I also see how much I've grown up in two years. I am now a slightly more confident version of who I was then. Part of that was that I kept getting dusted off every time I feel flat on my face, be it failing a test or making an idiot of myself. Last summer's rough spot was met with a lot of "keep going"s along with the knowledge that I always had someone pulling for me. I am very changed from that experience. I cannot thank him and everyone else who pulled me through last summer enough since they kept me in engineering.

Finding a mentor is likely one of the best things that happened to me while I was at Olin. My butt has been kicked when it needed to be. There is a memorable moment when a proofread version of my cover letter came back looking like someone had bleed on it. It needed it. Currently my job interviewing skills are under fire, but again, they need to be fixed. I'm currently not doing well on interviews since I am trying so hard I panic.

Finding a mentor has also allowed me to see my situation from a different perspective and take advice form someone who has experience in a field that I am still attempting to get started in. I have also been able gain exposure to a lot of sides of engineering since I'm the EE who may not exactly be normal.

I had the chance to talk with Ben in early June while he was in between meetings and I had just completed a job interview. I'm fairly certain I will never forget that experience. We have the exact same sense of humor which is dangerous in large doses.

There are never enough ways to say thank you to a good mentor since they can be everything from someone who picks you back up when you fall flat on your face, a guide when you're lost in the woods, a wise elder with answers when you need them most, to even a friend. I'm counting my blessings that I have found a mentor that can do all of that and more. Ben is one amazing mentor, and the STS-127 passes are just more evidence that can be held against him.