In 2021, Mohammed Arif was enjoying his Friday like most college students—until he received a call.
It was about an internship at The Aerospace Corporation he had applied to a couple of weeks prior. He’d made it past the application stage and needed to get ready for the first interview.
This interview was much different than what Mohammed was used to. Instead of just answering questions and talking about his experience, he had to answer technical questions, do a presentation for two Aerospace employees and complete a coding challenge, as well.
Needless to say, the pressure was on!
The interview was on Wednesday, so he had five days to prepare. While five days seem like plenty of time to ace an interview, nothing felt like enough time.
“That was the hardest and most nervous interview I ever had,” Mohammed said. “I had to do it all in real-time.”
Luckily, he was more prepared than he could have ever anticipated. The interview went perfectly, and he received a call with an offer for an internship that summer.
Although he was not able to intern in person at the Aerospace headquarters in California that summer, interning virtually was still a transformative experience.
He interned for the Embedded & Specialized Computing Department (ESCD). While his summer was going great, things became even better when he received an offer to return in Summer 2023. This time he would be working in person.
Although he was excited, the reality of leaving his hometown of St. Louis, MO for El Segundo, CA finally set in a few weeks before it was time to make the big move.
“Leading up to like the first few months before moving, I was super excited,” Mohammed said. “But the week before I moved got super nervous because I had never been to California. I don’t think I’ve been more west than St. Louis ever.”
Once he arrived in California, the anxiety lessened and everything surrounding his internship soared to new heights.
“This summer, I’m actually using some simulated data to test the software I’m coding for a satellite,” Mohammed said. “The best part about that project, I think is that if everything goes well, the code that I’m writing right now could eventually go to space. I’m super excited about it.”
He also gets to take breaks from coding and work on circuits in labs on campus.
Aside from working on exciting assignments, getting to meet his bosses and the dozens of Aerospace interns working alongside him in El Segundo has made his experience rewarding.
“The best part is definitely meeting everybody,” Mohammed said. “Last summer, it felt kind of lonely and isolated, but now I get to meet a lot of cool interns and learn a lot about their projects. I get to hang out with them when we go to events and stuff.”
Now that Mohammed is ending his second year as an Aerospace Intern, he notices his professional and personal growth.
“I have a lot more stuff to add to my resume because I’ve been doing a lot more,” Mohammed said. “My department does a lot of embedded stuff, which is super interesting and versatile because a lot of industries need it. So, I like how I learned a lot of skills that are applicable in all sorts of places.”
Mohammed has one piece of advice for all incoming Aerospace interns.
“I’d say not to get too discouraged when you work with a project because internships can get hard,” Mohammed said. “Especially because this is your first time. The best part about it is because it’s hard, you learn a lot more. It does take a lot more patience because you have to keep going at it.”
Mohammed is one of several returning Aerospace interns this summer. If you’re interested in working in the space industry, keep an eye out for internship applications. They open later this month! :)
About the Intern
Hi, I’m Brooke Bell! I’m the strategic communications intern at The Aerospace Corporation for Summer 2023. Outside of being an #aerointern, I’m also a senior mass communications major at Louisiana State University. Joining Aerospace has been a wild, exciting, and rewarding experience. I’m sharing all the details about applications and the internship experience this summer on Medium!
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