NASA internship prepares ASU senior for job market

Business communication senior Laura Fisher poses in the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Science Operation Center at ASU's Tempe campus Friday. Fisher recently returned from a summer internship at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Danielle Gregory)

Business communication senior Laura Fisher spent 13 weeks this summer interning at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., preparing for her planned career with the organization.

Fisher produced video and created budget reports as part of her internship with JPL, NASA’s primary center for robotic exploration of the solar system that operates and maintains NASA’s Deep Space Network.

Employees develop robots meant for planetary exploration.

Most of Fisher’s day-to-day responsibilities consisted of filling out budget tracking reports.

“It was a lot of organization and logistical work,” Fisher said. “The (budget tracking reports) are fiscal reports dictating what was budgeted, what was actual and what the difference was.”

She said she was able to use more creativity when she produced a celebratory video honoring the 35th anniversary of NASA’s Voyager operation.

The Voyager mission launched in 1977 as an unmanned space mission to the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn.

“I wanted to contribute that video in part to illustrate the relationship between the Deep Space Network and Voyager over the last 35 years,” Fisher said. “It was important for me because I felt like many people in my generation are unaware of the importance of the Voyager mission.”

Fisher said the internship allowed her to work alongside an impressive array of scientists and faculty, including JPL Program Resource Administrator Anne-Marie Krause.

“She was someone who I ultimately really looked up to,” Fisher said. “I still keep in touch with her. Sometimes, we play Words with Friends.”

The internship will allow her to improve her resume so that she’ll appear more experienced to potential employers once she graduates in the spring, she said.

“Everyone knows the economy is struggling these days and there are a lot more people going to college now, including women,” Fisher said. “Getting out of college armed with only a degree just doesn’t guarantee people a job after college like it used to.”

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Science Operations Center business manager Patricia Dodson had gotten to know Fisher as a student prior to her internship at the JPL.

“In talking with Laura, I could tell that it had been an extremely beneficial experience for her,” Dodson said. “When it comes to impressing future employers, you just can’t beat that firsthand experience in the field.”

Alumna Hallie Gengl also gained a summer internship at the JPL following her junior year.

That internship later turned into a job offer, and Gengl began working at the JPL one week after she graduated from ASU last spring.

“It was so amazing to have my dream job at 21 years old,” Gengl said. “I have known Laura for a long time now and hopefully her internship will help her land a job at the JPL as well.”


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