College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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NASA Internship Has Business Student Flying High


by Bianca Flowers

Never in her wildest dreams did sophomore Grace Walsh expect to be taking a semester off to work for a leading US government organization. Now the 19-year-old is living a dream. After landing an internship with the world’s biggest aerospace agency, Walsh is looking to gain the experience of a lifetime at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA.

Last year Walsh attended the annual Business Career Fair. Taking a space class as an elective at the time, Walsh was curious to learn more about the innovative industry.

“I walked over to the Johnson Space booth and talked with both of the recruiters. I had a nice conversation, but really didn’t think much of it because I thought they only hired rocket scientists. The next day they called me for an interview.”

Initially an undecided major in the College of Business, it didn’t take long for Walsh to find the perfect fit. With the guidance of professors and older peers in her business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, Walsh applied and got accepted to the Supply Chain Management program; an emerging and selective major within the college.

“I knew this program complemented how math and business components worked together to create an end product. That’s what drew me in.”

Walsh is hoping to utilize her skill set in multiple departments at NASA.  She is one of ten business students from across the nation participating in the agency’s Cooperative Education Program in Houston, Texas. The prestigious program is known for enhancing college students’ professional development and providing meaningful hands-on experience.

“You act as an ambassador of NASA. They want you to be aware of what’s going on in all departments, not just your own.”

The three-tour program operates on a semester and quarterly basis. Students are exposed to the technological and business aspects of the industry.

“It’s really cool that you get to learn about the technical material and expand that to a broader sense so that you understand the organization as a whole.”

Walsh will wrap up her internship with NASA the summer before starting her senior year. Although her position is only temporary, she’s keeping an eye out for long term opportunities.

“The thought is always in the back of my mind that I could be working here in the future. I just want to keep an open mind about different possibilities in NASA.”

UIUC College of Business