The Familiar Wait

I’m the kind of person who crumbles to dust without routine or something to actively do. Holidays have always been problematic: last summer I completed a month-long internship in Cambridge ‘doing the 9-5′ during the week, studying at weekends. I did it because I loved it. I also did it for my own mental health - my lowest points when suffering from depression came during the months between January-September 2013, while waiting for the academic year to begin again. I had nothing to actively do, attempting to find employment, yet continually being unsuccessful. Waking up with no purpose felt degrading and for some reason each subsequent break from the academic year has since resembled that period of time - I’ve had to keep myself busy, stay vigilant. 

The fear that began to creep up during the last few weeks of my degree is, then, imaginable. After exams, I had finally decided upon the sector I wanted to find a job in, so although I hadn’t had any direct experience in the sector specifically, I began to make countless applications, hoping for just one chance. Graduation came and went … my inbox was empty of any replies whatsoever. I didn’t even receive rejections, but must have instead been outright ignored. Applications continued, hours were spent, but to be honest it seemed I was applying to absent receiver after absent receiver. I’m painting a very bleak picture of graduate life, but I have to be truthful: the silence was unnerving, downright demoralising. However, just before I went to Barcelona, I received my first reply - an advertising agency in Soho, London wanted to interview me the day after my return from a holiday to Barcelona. 

In Barcelona, talk often turned to our ‘future’ - my friends had direct plans for the summer and for some, beyond that … but I had none. Barcelona was my summer. Each time talk would turn to time beyond the holiday like this, I’d feel something scarily close to panic settle on my chest, had to stop myself from crying each time. I thought about the job interview I was going home to - the one response I had received, at the time my only hope - and it made me feel marginally better. I eventually discovered that I’d placed an awful lot of hope on the upcoming event. 

With each step I took through London, travelling to the interview, I wondered if my dream of living there could actually be a possibility, and I ended up finishing the day extremely annoyed with myself for having fallen in love with the company as soon as I walked into the office. When I came home, desperate to work as soon as possible - desperate to have a purpose, I later realised - but sceptical of my success in the interview just had, I applied to jobs outside my targeted sector, attempting to cushion my fall in advance of my assured rejection. Securing an interview for one of these places, I travelled back down to London for the second time in a week to a company who I knew I would despise, a career I knew I would loathe, to an interview experience which I knew was going to be an excruciating experience. 

I didn’t have to go to that second interview. The ‘good news’ phone call I received on the way down to London actually made me cry. It was going to happen. It was all going to happen. Advertising. Now. London. 26th July, the moving date. 1st August, the start date. 

The past week and a half has flown by. I’ve been busy organising temporary accommodation for August - I’m then moving in with two of my best guy friends from September onwards, so we’ve been sending potential places back and forth, planning which ones I am going to check out for us this month. I’ve been able to delete all of the tabs on my laptop that had details for potential job applications. I’ve deleted the files containing my past applications to companies who no longer matter. I’ve signed and sent off my contract. Purchased a select few items of clothing for my first job. Even dyed my hair a temporary peach colour … because I can now.

And yet, this time itself has also been unnerving, analogous to the way I usually feel at the end of summer, before returning to university. It’s limbo - a limbo once balanced, now tipping forward. You can almost feel yourself sliding to the future, you’re excited for it, for the moment beyond that will bring new experiences, new opportunities to make memories. And yet, in the here-and-now, all is stagnant. Take today: I have done nothing. Ok - I packed a couple of suitcases… but in reality, I have done nothing with my day today. Yet I’ve spent this evening making lists, making plans of what I am going to do with my first few days in London. Isn’t it strange, that I’ve spent the present day purely thinking about future days? … I look at my profiles on social media, my finger twitches towards the ‘location’ description, itching to change it to London - not yet Sarah, not yet. 

I have drained Birmingham dry. I am done. There is nothing more here for me to do or see. I regress to a - I want to say younger? Sarah the longer I stay here, a Sarah I no longer properly identify with. I will always have a loyalty to the city, I will always be proud of my hometown, but it is no longer somewhere I fit.

I can’t wait to begin the London chronicles, however long they may be. I can’t wait to be doing the job I’ve possibly romanticised way too much (but bitch do I care? - nah). I can’t wait to earn a regular wage (even though most of this will go on my rent), to have my own money, however little, so that I can come home and treat my mother. I can’t wait to live, finally, in the same city as some of my best friends, and to make even more new friends. I can’t wait to actually experience the moments I am currently looking at this second on my list of things to do and places to see. The anticipation of exploring a city anew, for myself, making it a personal home, scouting out places that will become favourites, is exciting me so much - there’s nothing like it. 

But at the moment, I’m waiting that old, familiar wait. One day to go.

- Sarah

GETTING A JOB CHEAT SHEET!!

other cheat sheets

8

Back when Disney Channel actually had guts to put something as real as this In one of their shows! this was why the old shows were better, because they actually had REAL legitimate values and lessons such as the one taught in this episode that we could relate to! now I can’t take new Disney seriously anymore. all it teaches you now is how to be an annoying stuck up teen

Overheard at the zoo today

“ugh look at the tortoise it’s so depressed. All it does is lay there. It doesn’t even have the motivation to move.”

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I want to address that. First of all, this is anthropomorphism and it is dangerous. Animals do not have the same kind of thought process, patterns, or emotions as we do. You are applying your feelings to an animal that doesn’t think the way we do.

No, the tortoise is not laying there because he is depressed or bored… He is laying there because THAT IS HIS NATURAL BEHAVIOR. In fact, if he were up and moving around excessively we would all be VERY concerned that something was wrong. He’s a 500 pound tortoise. His legs get tired. He is laying there because all of his needs have been met NOT because he is “sad” or “has given up on life.” That’s just what he does. If you went to their natural habitat, they would be doing THE SAME EXACT THING AS IN THE ZOO. That’s a good tortoise life!!

Same with the sleeping lions. They are not understimulated, THEY NATURALLY SLEEP FOR 16+ HOURS A DAY. that is what they do. That is their existence. Our experiences tell us that it means the animals are sick or bored, but it’s untrue! That is the way they have adapted. It’s what they naturally do!!

A lot of this misinformation stems from the human idea of “the wild.” Just because humans associate the wild with nature and freedom DOES NOT MEAN THE WILD IS ANY FRIENDLIER.

Predators, disease, resource competition, all those are VERY REAL concerns an animal must deal with in the wild (in addition to human caused threats such as climate change, poaching, and habitat loss).

So next time you want to say “that animal is sad/depressed/pissed that it’s in a cage” you need to ask yourself if you are qualified to make a judgement on that animal’s behavior. Have you spent countless hours watching and studying the natural behavior of the animal in question? Have you spoken with other professionals about how to properly keep or improve upon keeping the species? Have you spent days/weeks/months out in the wild observing these creatures?

We don’t just toss animals in a fence and call it good, folks. Every single aspect of their care is painstakingly thought out and managed.

I can guarantee that your average person’s pet dogs and cats are more bored with their life than our animals are at our zoo.

Stop and think.

So you want to work at NASA?

An out of this world career or internship might not be as far out of reach as you think. Check out all the ways you can get involved!

If you’re a student…

Our internships are the perfect place to start! We offer paid internships for spring, summer, and fall semesters to U.S. citizens currently attending an accredited university full time. Learn more at: https://intern.nasa.gov

Seriously considering a job in the Federal civil service? Check out the Pathways Internship Program which allows you to do multiple work tours while you finish school: http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/studentopps/employment/iep.htm

If you’re a recent graduate…

If you’re a U.S. citizen who has graduated from an accredited college or university within the past 2 years (or 6 if you have served in the military), then the our Recent Graduates program is just for you. Accepted applicants are placed in a 1 year career development program with the possibility of an additional year, or even granted term or permanent jobs within the agency. Learn more at: http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/studentopps/employment/rgp.htm.

If you’re a professional…

You can search for our job openings any time at USAJobs.com. Create an account, then use the USAJobs resume builder. Want to make sure your resume maximizes your opportunity for a job at NASA? Check out our Applicant Guide: https://applyonline.nasa.gov/applicant_guide.html.

You can then search for our job openings here: https://nasai.usajobs.gov/.

If you want to be an astronaut…

Astronaut candidate applications are accepted every few years- including right now! Get yours in before the current application closes on February 18, 2016.

Do you have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field and 3 years of related professional experience? You might be eligible. Find out more and apply online at: https://nasai.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/423817000.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

3

Job Profile: What’s it like to be an astronomer?

Astronomers lead interesting and quite exciting, lives.

I frequently get questions regarding the work environments, job prospects and pay. If there’s any part of you that yearns for the night sky and if you want to know what’s out there… perhaps this post can help you figure out if this is the path for you.

Astronomers, as you may know, use science and mathematics to unwrap the mysteries of the cosmos.

Do we live in a multiverse?

Are we alone?

Where do we come from?

These are examples of some of the large problems astronomers slowly chip away at. The work is philosophically and intellectually rewarding.

So what exactly does this work entail? Where do astronomers actually work?

(Image credit: Department of Energy)

Lectures are a regular part of the job description for many astronomers.

It’s a constant battle to ensure that the next generation is educated in STEM fields to ensure a vibrant world.

Many astronomers teach things from basic physics classes (often to a diverse student body of engineering, physics and biology students as an example) to astrophysics classes. Being able to communicate and present to large groups of people is important.

Not everything these folk do is lecture though. Astronomers do research too though and this research can be quite involved:

(Image credit: Keith Vinderlande)

(Image credit: W.M. Keck Observatory)

The above two images show the South Pole Telescope and the Keck Observatory respectively.

If you want a job that involves travel and adventure, you’ll almost certainly get both in this field. You may find yourself living in Arctic conditions for months in a night that never ends (seemingly). Whenever you go outside you might look up to the Southern Lights or the Milky Way.

Perhaps you’ll find yourself climbing the largest volcano on Earth, Mauna Kea, on your way to the famous Keck observatory. When you’re not observing you’d be spending your days below in Hawaii (and who wouldn’t like that?).

Some lucky astronomers find jobs at places like research laboratories (like NASA Ames or ESTEC in the Netherlands for example) where they get to spend the vast majority of their time on research.

Sometimes these sorts of jobs can involve working on projects that ultimately forward the work of astronomy without directly being astronomy itself:

(Image credit: NASA)

Plenty of people get their education in astronomy but end up helping groups like NASA, ESA or SpaceX build future robots and spacecraft to explore the universe.

Excitingly, we now live in a time where small startups are being founded to further private enterprise in space: companies are looking into mining asteroids, building tourist spacecrafts and inflatable space stations. Anyone with the right knowledge and motivation can be a part of this amazing new space race.

So what exactly does this workload usually entail? Well typically astronomy work involves lots of math. This is our tool to unravel the mechanics of space and time.

You’ll be using calculus pretty regularly and your education will need to prepare you for it. Usually astronomers get their Bachelor’s degree in physics and then their PhD in astronomy. Some go slightly different routes but that’s the norm.

In addition to math, astronomers learn how to program so that they can send certain complicated problems to be crunched by the massively powerful capabilities of modern computers.

In fact, astronomers get so well-practiced in computer programming that if they were to ever get tired of the world of academia and research, it’s quite easy for an astronomer to get a relatively cushy position as a programmer (I love repping that some even get jobs as Disney animators).

Over all, if you want to be an astronomer expect to spend lots of time at a computer and working out math problems. Expect to stand in front of groups every now and then to present research or teach a class and lastly… be willing to get your hands dirty. You will almost certainly do some traveling. As you saw above, many observatories are located in exciting and exotic places.

What do astronomers make for money?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics in America shows that the median pay for an astronomer is about $105,000 but pay can go significantly higher than that (and can also be a bit lower).

When it comes to working from your computer (which you’ll be doing often as an astronomer) there’s the cushy fact that this can often be done wherever you get an internet signal.

If you decide to go for the (often better paying) work as a software engineer, the same often applies.

You’ll be able to make your own schedule more often than other jobs and you’ll see and learn more about the world and universe than almost any other job there is. Astronomy is a rewarding profession that demands quite a lot from you, but gives back in spades.

Good luck on your path to the stars!

(Top image credit: Alan L, Eric Hill and NASA respectively)

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Originally posted by jasonwongart

Concept: waking up when my body is ready, and not to an alarm clock. A beautiful balcony view of a city where the weather is always pleasantly warm. A simple breakfast with the radio playing in the background, my dogs are cuddling by the window. My significant other sits across from me, sipping coffee and reading the paper. In an hour, I have to head to a job I love that’s within walking distance of my home. I’m happy and content, I love my life in its entirety.