Former NEAP intern and year-round intern, Sarah Layman, recently graduated from West Virginia University, earning her Bachelor of Science in industrial and management systems engineering. Sarah started at IV&V in the summer of 2009 and has worked here every summer since. She will be leaving the program to go to work full-time for FedEx Express in Charleston, W.Va. as an associate engineer.
I can still remember the day that one of my friends told my mom about the NEAP (NASA IV&V Engineering Apprenticeship Program) opportunity. I was so mad at her, because I knew that there was no way I could get out of that one. I was on the swim team at the time, and the only thing that I wanted to do that summer was be a lifeguard and get a tan.
The next thing that I knew, I was filling out the application with my mom. I decided to play along because I remember thinking to myself, “There’s no way I’ll actually get this.” Well just my luck, a month or so later I received a letter in the mail from Jess White telling me that, guess what… you will be a NEAP intern for the summer of 2009!
I wouldn’t say that I started that summer with an open mind. I was so unbelievably nervous, because “This is NASA, I can’t mess up!” Jess will attest to the fact that I sat at my workstation and didn’t say a word to anyone for at least the first week. At some point I started talking to my partner on the project and people that sat around me more, and we even started to eat lunch together outside.
When people used to ask me where I was working for the summer I’d say NASA IV&V, and their response was always “Wow.” I quickly realized that this was an awesome opportunity that not every 16-year-old got, and it was one that could really benefit my future. When I got into that mind-set, I was able to open up and really start learning. And after that, well the rest was history. I haven’t wanted to leave IV&V since. Although, I did have to do something difficult, I had to tell my mom that she was right and thank her. I’ve learned so much from this organization, and I hope that my working here has benefited the IV&V Program in some small way.
As I move forward with my career, there are a few key ideals that I will take with me from IV&V.
- Safety is everyone’s responsibility; it must not be sacrificed in any way.
- I must always do my work to the highest standard and continually look for improvement.
- It is important to balance my work life with my home life.
IV&V gives high school and college interns the chance to work as professionals. We are given a mentor, but we’re expected to act and work as any other employee. This independence allowed me to learn quickly how to communicate, manage my time, accomplish projects goals, and so much more. I can go forward knowing that I have not only developed important technical skills, but I have also learned how to work effectively in this environment. Thank you to all that have helped me along the way, as well as all of the interns that you have and will impact every year. Your time and effort is appreciated. Also, a special thanks to Jess White for all that he does with the internship program, and so much more.
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program