I was an Aerospace intern. Two years later, I’m a full-time engineer.

She joined the space industry as a sophomore in college… little did she know where she’d go!

The Aerospace Corporation
4 min readJul 12, 2023
The Aerospace Corporation 2023 BEYA Conference attendees. Bernard Jefferson (center) and Niabelle Thelemaque (second from right) were there to celebrate Aerospace engineering awardees.

When Niabelle Thelemaque, then a sophomore at the University of Central Florida studying electrical engineering, attended the National Society of Black Engineers’ Conference in 2015 she had many expectations of what could happen. Starting her career in the space industry was not one of them.

The second day of the NSBE conference, she met someone who changed the course of her entire career.

“During that conference, I met my first manager in Aerospace’s Electronics and Sensors Division, Bernard Jefferson,” Thelemaque said. “I just struck up a conversation with him about my course studies and the type of work he does. It was really just a great conversation, and he encouraged me to apply for an internship. That’s kind of what kicked off my Aerospace employment.”

The Florida native took his advice and applied for an internship with Aerospace. To her surprise, she received an offer to intern the following summer in California.

“It wasn’t until my first summer internship with Aerospace that I realized that I could potentially have a career working in this area,” Thelemaque said.

After completing her first internship with Aerospace in 2015, her internship was extended twice more until her college graduation.

After spending three summers at Aerospace, Thelemaque received exciting news.

“I was offered a full-time position after I did my end-of-year report at the end of my internship,” Thelemaque said. “It’s where your manager fills out if they offered you a full-time position or if they want you back as an intern for next summer.”

Thelemaque enjoyed her time as an Aerospace intern and had lots of curiosity about the aerospace industry. But there was so much more that she wanted to explore and experience before settling down at one company.

Although the offer was exciting, Thelemaque took a different path. Instead of accepting the offer at Aerospace, she wanted to “get a different side of the industry.”

Thelemaque has had a chance to see all sides of the aerospace industry; however, Aerospace has always been the main character in her story.

She worked at another aerospace company for almost two years before returning to school to get her master’s degree at Columbia University. There, Thelemaque became a National GEM Consortium fellow.

The fellowship required her to complete internships while working towards her master’s. She returned to Aerospace as an intern for two more summers during the program.

NIabelle Thelemaque, Aerospace Communications Systems Engineer

After a second round of interning, Thelemaque realized Aerospace could quench her thirst for continued learning. Although she would be settling in one place, Aerospace surrounded her with people who would encourage her to continue evolving as an engineer. When another full-time offer was extended, she accepted it.

Now, she has been a decorated communications systems engineer at Aerospace for two and a half years. Early this year, she was named a Modern Day Technology Leader at the 2023 Black Engineer of the Year Awards.

Thelemaque has had a chance to see all sides of the aerospace industry; however, Aerospace has always been the main character in her story.

“What sets Aerospace apart is really the people,” Thelemaque said. “Aerospace has a lot of talented and bright individuals. It’s really cool how we can tap into that and learn knowledge from individuals who have been in their careers for many years. I really like how Aerospace is kind of like a learning opportunity. There is an opportunity to go out and explore and learn as much as you can.”

Becoming an Aerospace employee was a full-circle moment for Thelemaque. She’s reconnected with many people she once interned alongside and is now a resource for interns new to the company.

Thelemaque’s story is far from being extraordinary at Aerospace. Several Aerospace employees are “conversions,” or interns who have chosen to begin their careers as regular employees.

For current interns who are interested in working full-time at Aerospace, Thelemaque encourages them to communicate their goals openly to their managers.

“I would say that if interns are really interested in working full time, it helps to have a discussion with their manager or director about possible opportunities,” Thelemaque said. “Whether that’s in the same department or other departments that they’re interested in. It doesn’t hurt to talk to different groups, because Aerospace does a variety of activities. You’ll find something that aligns with your interests. Don’t be afraid to reach out to find out a bit more information and start networking.”

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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