Name: Salema Bridges ‘15

Title: Senior Product Support Manager

Employer: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Major: Economics 

What do you enjoy most about your current position?

I enjoy the flexibility and the overall environment. I get to be around individuals from all backgrounds mainly science, engineering, finance and accounting. So I find it interesting to see how all of these fields mix and interact on a daily basis in the workplace. Also, the environment reminds me of a college campus because NASA is pretty much a self-contained agency. We have all types of clubs that you can join ranging from sports to photography and even public speaking. There are also training classes you can take and colloquium talks to attend daily/weekly. Overall, there are so many resources and opportunities at your fingertips.

What is a typical day like?

A typical day for me mainly consists of running financial reports. Usually when I come in I check all of the funding for the scientists that I support to ensure that nothing is in the negative. After that I move on to initiating any fund transfers needed or sending funding updates that were requested. The rest of my day can vary depending on the time of the month or even the time of year. At the beginning of the month I'm usually busy updating and sending out monthly financial statements to my scientists. However, after that time I may be busy funding grants to universities and contracts that have agreements with NASA, purchasing equipment or just catching up with my scientists. Meetings are often once a week with my team and occasionally one or two others throughout the week.

Which undergraduate experiences did you find most helpful in preparing you?

Internships played a huge role in preparing me for my current position. Junior and senior year I interned with the Department of Justice in their finance office, which I believe really set the tone going forward. I learned certain financial processes and took training classes that still remain very relevant to my current position. Also, I would say that the computer/excel classes were a big help because I use excel everyday!

How has your coursework helped you?

My coursework has helped me with things such as cost estimates, researching older funding, and communicating spending plans and everyday actions.

Job/internship advice?

Start early! The sooner you find an internship the better. This also helps with getting your foot in the door, especially if you want to work in the federal government. Also, be open to taking on a volunteer internship because it could possibly lead to a paid one later on. The best part about interning is that you get the luxury of working somewhere without having a commitment to work for more than the internship. So if you are unsure of what you want to do or what you like, just intern somewhere and keep going until you find what works for you. Don't get discouraged when it comes to looking for a job because you will hear a thousand "no's" and "I'm sorry you aren't qualified", but there will be the one “YES” that will be the perfect fit.