Students

Q&A with NASA intern Harriet Hunt

The GiST chats to Harriet Hunt about how she became an intern at NASA, the benefits of volunteering and why it's ok to fail.

What is your educational background?

I am currently in my final year of undergraduate Aerospace Engineering Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. My freshman year, I failed physics and had to retake it, so I definitely don't have a perfect GPA (Grade Point Average).

Tell us about your job and how you got to where you are?

I'm currently working for Northrop Grumman Space as a systems engineering intern through the Brooke Owens Fellowship. I could not have gotten here without the support of my Brooke Owens Family and mentors through Illinois Space Society, an organisation at my university. In the past, I have worked at NASA and Collins Aerospace.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

I'm interested in and passionate about volunteering. Not just because it's a way for me to give back to a community, but because it's also a way for me to develop essential skills outside of engineering, such as communication! Volunteering is a fantastic way to keep your mind sharp and stay busy while also directly improving the lives of others. This past year I volunteered at The Legacy Center for Community Success, performing website consulting, and I currently volunteer for Stand.earth, an environmental non-profit doing research. In my free time, I hang out with my pet bird Charlie and watch horror movies!

What are your long-term career goals? Where do you want to be in 5 years?

In 5 years, I want to have completed a Masters and be at the beginning of my first full-time job. In the future, I hope to become someone who holds a higher-level position in the aerospace industry and to be a mentor through an aerospace organisation or fellowship to help young girls interested in STEM. I will never settle for one job or one position when I know I can constantly aim higher.

What advice do you have for girls interested in STEM?

It's ok to fail, and it's ok to get discouraged. Those are normal things, especially for students in STEM. I've found that the most important thing is to keep reminding yourself why you're doing this.

If you love something and you have a passion, then you will be successful.

Want to hear more from Harriet?

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