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NASA Internship Programs: An In-Depth Guide [For 2023]

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NASA is the world’s leading space agency. Since its establishment in 1958, NASA has made many scientific discoveries in cosmology.

They’re also the only space agency to launch successful discovery missions to Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune.

For that reason, landing a NASA internship is no easy feat.

Keep reading if you want to know about the space agency’s different internships, how to apply, and the benefits.

Does NASA Have an Internship Program?

Yes! NASA offers three internship seasons: spring, summer, and fall.

Both the spring and fall internships last 16 weeks.

The former internship session starts in mid-January and ends in early May, with an application deadline in early November.

Fall internships start in late August or early September and end in mid-December.

The application deadline for the fall internship is early July.

As for the summer internship[1] , it starts in late May and ends in August, lasting for 10 weeks.

Applying for the summer session is open until early March.

Types of Internships Offered by NASA

The earth and space science company also provide three primary internships: the NASA Intern program, NASA Pathways Internships, and International Intern programs.

Here’s a detailed explanation of each program:

  • NASA internship: The program allows students to gain operational experiences in the STEM field through working on current NASA projects. It’s open in all three sessions.
  • NASA Pathways Internship: The Pathways intern program aims to teach students real-world work experience through a 640-hour program. It usually opens in mid-September.
  • NASA International Interns: The program targets students from participating countries to work on NASA projects and research. It’s available for all three sessions.

How Many Interns Does NASA Have?

NASA accepts around 2000 student interns each year. As for the Pathways internship program, NASA hosts almost 650 interns.

NASA Internship Positions

The internship position the space company offers depends on the NASA center you intern at.

Here are the possible positions NASA interns may work in:

  • Electrical engineer: works on payload and motor control electronics, data-handling avionics subsystems, and testing electronic equipment.
  • Mechanical engineer: work on designing, manufacturing, and testing spacecraft.
  • Robotics and autonomous systems engineering: develop autonomous systems and robotics for terrestrial and space exploration.
  • Software engineer: develop flight software to run spacecraft. Cybersecurity engineers use emerging protocol substrates, like blockchain, to detect security events in engineering operations.
  • Astrophysics and space scientists: conduct research about the physics of galaxies, stars, cosmology, and black holes.
  • Planetary scientists: study the atmosphere, volcanoes, the solar system bodies, and the planet’s microbiology and chemistry.

What Does an Intern at NASA Do?

The interns are expected to work full-time on current and future NASA projects.

During their internship, the interns work on mentor-directed tasks, gaining practical experience.

What Does an Intern at NASA Usually Focus On?

NASA internships engage students in real-world experiences in space exploration, aeronautics, and earth sciences.

Interns gain such opportunities by working in a certain area at a NASA facility.

For instance, the Glenn Research Center and Kennedy Space Center focus on space exploration.

The former develops spacecraft flight systems, while the latter prepares and launches space missions.

Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA’s first space flight center, focuses on learning about the Sun, Earth, and the solar system.

On the other hand, NASA Langley Research Center is dedicated to aeronautics.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is for interns interested in Earth and space exploration robotics.

Who Does NASA Target for Internships?

NASA internships target U.S. high school students, undergraduates, and graduates.

The intern must be enrolled full-time in an accredited U.S. college or university to be eligible to apply for the internship.

Educators can also apply for some NASA internships.

What Is a NASA Internship Like?

NASA internships differ according to the program.

Summer internships for high school students involve touring the agency or going on exploration trips.

It aims to help students explore different careers in the STEM field.

College and graduate students work full-time on assigned tasks for NASA’s projects.

After completing the tasks, interns are expected to submit a final report of the results and present it.

NASA Internship Process

Here’s everything you need to know about the internship basics[2] :

  • Applicants choose the internship program and session they want to apply for.
  • Candidates fill out the application form and upload the necessary documents.
  • Two weeks after the internship announcement closes, applicants receive an email informing them whether their application was accepted or not.
  • If accepted, applications proceed to phone or personal interviews for the selection process.
  • After 45-60 days from the announcement deadline, the hiring managers announce the results.

Is It Hard to Intern at NASA?

Yes! Landing a NASA internship is difficult.

While the space agency provides hundreds of opportunities, they receive tens of thousands of applicants yearly.

For that reason, NASA’s internships are extremely competitive.

What Notable Projects Can Interns Potentially Work On?

The projects that NASA interns work on are determined by the center in which they work.

That said, usually, most tasks revolve around space exploration and areas related to that field.

Here are a few examples of projects you can expect to work on at NASA:

  • Conduct studies on lunar soil simulants, examining their chemical composition and mechanical properties.
  • Predict a satellite’s overpass time and record its signals.
  • Analyze satellite data to develop maps and cartographic products.
  • Figure out the antenna pattern of ground test cells.
  • Design a digital circuit to measure the clock skew between two signals.
  • Test and modify robot compartments used for space exploration.

How Many Hours Do NASA Interns Work?

NASA interns work full-time unless noted otherwise.

That means interns are expected to commit 40 hours per week.

Usually, a typical work schedule would be eight hours per day, five days a week.

NASA Internship Benefits

Valuable work experience is the primary benefit you get from NASA internships.

Interns are incorporated into engineering or business teams and work on meaningful work assignments.

You’ll work closely with those teams and a mentor to make sure you gain the knowledge and tools to complete the assigned task.

Pathways interns may also get permanent employee benefits, like health and dental care, vision insurance, holidays, and paid leave!

What Do You Learn in Aeronautics and Space Science Internship?

NASA internships provide their interns with hands-on experience in aeronautics and space industries.

You’ll get to learn about and work with the most sophisticated tools and technologies in those fields.

You can apply that knowledge in your industry, whether it’s aerospace engineering, natural sciences, or computer science.

Are NASA Interns Paid?

Yes! Most NASA interns receive a weekly stipend throughout the internship session.

That said, the intern is responsible for their housing and transportation expenses.

How Much Are NASA Interns Paid?

The stipend amount varies depending on the education level of the interns.

Undergraduates and graduates can expect $11,680 and $14,400, respectively, in spring and fall internships.

NASA’s summer internship program pays $7,300 for undergraduates and $9,000 for graduates.

As for Pathways interns, they can get paid between $32 and $37 per hour.

The salary differs according to the interns’ number of academic hours completed.

Requirements for Getting an Internship at NASA

Aside from being U.S. citizens, applicants must be at least 16 years and enrolled in school, college, or university.

Additionally, students should meet the minimum GPA requirements.

Nasa Internship Acceptance Rate

Because NASA’s internships are in high demand, their acceptance rate is around 5%.

NASA screens for applicants with interests and skills that fit its priorities.

So, majoring in a STEM field and having the minimum GPA make you eligible to apply for the agency’s internships. However, that doesn’t guarantee acceptance.

Suggested Area of Study for NASA Interns

NASA’s most-hired positions are the following:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Information Technology
  • Physical Science
  • Public Affairs
  • Business Administration
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Human Resources

So, any degree in the above fields increases your internship chances at NASA.

Does NASA Care About GPA?

Yes! While GPA alone isn’t enough to get accepted as a NASA intern, you still need to have a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale to be eligible for the space company’s internships.

A Pathways internship requires a minimum GPA of 2.9.

Recommended Skills for NASA Interns

NASA doesn’t have a certain set of skills needed for their internships.

However, a stellar academic performance increases your acceptance chances.

That’s because succeeding in your studies and extracurricular projects say a lot about a student’s work ethic.

It shows hard work, resilience, the ability to work with others, and time management—all of which translate to the workplace.

Does NASA Background Check Their Interns?

In most cases, NASA doesn’t background-check its interns.

However, Pathways program participants must undergo a pre-employment background investigation.

Does NASA Drug Test Their Interns?

NASA might request a drug test from interns who’ll occupy a Testing Designated Position.

According to federal law, employees must refrain from using illegal drugs, whether on or off duty, regardless of state laws.

That means medicinal marijuana and CBDs can’t be used as a medical explanation for a positive drug test.

Do NASA Interns Get Hired?

Yes! NASA interns can get hired. That’s especially true if you intern in the Pathways program.

The space company usually offers full-time employment to some Pathways interns once they graduate.

How Likely Will an Internship at NASA Turn Into a Full-Time Job?

NASA doesn’t reveal the intern percentage that gets offered a full-time job.

However, intern students are less likely to get a full-time job unless they’re in the Pathways program or work in a co-op position.

How Do I Get an Internship at NASA

To make your application stand out, you must show enthusiasm about the STEM field and commitment to completing the assigned project.

You can show the former qualities by completing previous internships, gaining work experience, joining STEM clubs, or volunteering.

Where to Find NASA Internship Opportunities?

The best way to find a NASA internship is to sign up for the NASA EXPRESS newsletter.

You’ll get the latest internship opportunities and other STEM resources delivered to your email.

You can also apply for NASA internships through campus recruiting.

Interview for a NASA Internship

After succeeding in the application screening phase, applicants receive an email invitation to a video call or phone interview.

You can meet with one NASA employee or a panel during the interview, which lasts for 40 minutes.

What Should I Wear to a NASA Internship Interview?

Most NASA centers accept comfortable, casual clothes in work environments.

That said, use your better judgment.

First impressions are important. So make sure not to wear something inappropriate.

A simple pair of jeans and a plain shirt or blouse would cut it.

Why Do You Want to Work at NASA?

NASA’s internships don’t require prior experience, but they seek motivated individuals that align with their vision.

You can talk about how you get to work with the best talents and access world-class technologies.

Additionally, you can bring attention to NASA’s diverse community.

Talk about how you get to cooperate with people from diverse backgrounds for the same purpose: space exploration and scientific innovation.

How Do I Prepare for a NASA Internship?

Doing your research is the best way to prepare for a NASA internship.

You can reach out to former interns to get all the information about potential landing spots and mentors.

That’ll give you an advantage in preparing for the interview .

Is NASA a Good Internship?

NASA’s internships are one of the top internship opportunities.

You work with world-class talents and gain hands-on experience in your field.

Is an Internship at NASA Worth It?

Yes! You get to have a solid network of people in your field. Plus, you get paid!

Even if you didn’t land a full-time offer, NASA internships are prestigious, which is a great plus for your resume.

Similar Programs to Check Out

Here are some similar programs to NASA internship to give you a pool of options to choose from:

SpaceX Internship

SpaceX’s internship is a one-year program that targets students enrolled in a four-year university or an accredited U.S. college.

Applicants in all engineering and business specializations can apply.

Additionally, they must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and prior experience.

Tesla Internship

Tesla’s internship spans three months. Interns work full-time, expanding their technical skills through working on the company’s current projects.

Applicants must be enrolled in a university and have good academic standing (at least a 2.0 GPA).

Boeing Internship

Boeing’s internship is a 12-week summer internship.

The internship targets information technology, business, and engineering students.

Students gain operational experience by taking part in designing and building the company’s aerospace products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a couple of FAQs regarding NASA internships:

Does NASA hire international students?

No! NASA is a U.S. government agency.

Other than a few rare exceptions, NASA doesn’t hire non-U.S. citizens as civil servants.

Does NASA require a cover letter?

NASA internships don’t require a cover letter.

However, you’ll have to fill out your experiences and skills in the application form.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, a NASA internship provides many benefits, from gaining technical knowledge to building a solid network in your field.

Consequently, the space company’s internships are highly competitive.

Still, don’t let the high demand scare you away; just prepare beforehand and hope the odds are in your favor!

Check out NASA internship programs here.

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