How To Launch Your Space Career
Have you always wanted a space career but aren’t sure how to get started?
Or is your space career going in the wrong direction and you need a change?
Are you unsure where to start or are you frustrated with rejections or lack of progress?
My newly released Launch Your Space Careers course is for you!
For the past 5 years, I have assisted nearly 70 coaching clients from 10 countries coming from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. By working with clients, I’ve seen how people get stuck in various stages of the process.
In this self-paced course, I walk step-by-step with you to launch your space career from the ground to orbit, no matter your background or circumstance.
Step 1: Your Dream Job
This very first step is where I see a lot of my clients getting stuck. They have so many interests, or they’re so new to the space industry, that they aren’t sure where they belong.
“The space industry” is an umbrella term that encompasses many industries and fields in or related to space. It is broad! It can become overwhelming to consider one’s place within space.
By describing your “dream job” or the ideal job you’d love to have in 5 years or so, you have an initial direction to pursue along your space career journey path.
By exploring your interests, underlying motivations, and goals, you can identify the top priority areas you’d like to pursue.
Step 2: The Path Toward Your Dream
Many clients ask me whether they need to return to school for another degree or certification, especially if they don’t have a STEM degree. Most often, the answer is no. These professionals from other industries have many accomplishments and transferable skills that help them to stand out as they apply for space-related jobs.
By focusing on the skills and expertise you have gained that you want to bring forward to the next stage of your career, you can present a strong case as to why you’re an excellent candidate for the jobs you’ll be pursuing.
Step 3: Assess Where You Are
Many people will feel excited about their transition to a space career.
For some people who are beginning their transition, they may be feeling overwhelmed or a little lost with all the options in front of them.
For others who have been applying to many jobs with little to no success, they may be feeling frustrated or disheartened.
Those who have already been working in the space sector may be looking for a change or a promotion and are feeling uncertain about how to pivot or progress.
Still others come to me with multiple great offers and need help deciding between them.
Understanding your current status and your mental health can help you to assess where to go from here and what barriers may be in your way to progress.
Step 4: Identify Your Initial Targets
Do you know where you want to work next? Some people come to me with a list of dozens of potential employers they’ve read up on and begun to apply to. Others don’t know where to start.
By creating a top-5 or top-10 list, you prioritize your targets to ensure a higher quality match and so you don’t burn yourself out in the research phase. There’s only one of you and only 24 hours in a day.
Pursuing US space jobs as a non-US citizen is a particular challenge to the clients I work with around the globe. If you want to work in the US as a citizen of another country, there are ways to pursue this path if you have patience.
Step 5: Survey the Landscape
Once the top potential employer targets have been identified, it’s key to learn everything you can about them. Keep up-to-date with their news and activities.
Follow their social media, newsletters, or any other resources that will keep you apprised such as news articles, press releases, podcast or TV interviews, conference talks, and other media.
For larger companies or organizations, focus in on the offices or areas that are of most interest to you.
Interested in a startup or stealth company with little public information released? Learn everything you can that is publicly available. Consider reaching out to the team to begin forming relationships where you may be able to learn more.
Step 6: Showcasing You
Have you been submitting the same resume and cover letter for multiple jobs? Don’t! You need to tailor your application materials for every position you’re applying for.
Crafting your resumes and cover letters is an art. It’s about them, not you. It’s about the company’s needs, the team’s needs, the hiring manager’s needs, and what qualifies you to be an excellent match to meet those needs.
A cover letter an often overlooked powerful document in the job application. Instead of summarizing your resume in paragraph form, write a detailed (but brief) roadmap to explain exactly how you meet the criteria and duties of the position you’re applying for. Paint a picture for the reader so they don’t need to guess.
Don’t self-reject! I do it, many of us do it, especially women and other minorities. We often don’t even apply because we assume we’re not qualified enough. It’s so important than we feel confident in our abilities to contribute, learn, and grow.
You aren’t just showcasing yourself in your job applications. You may also have an online presence such as a personal website, a blog, a LinkedIn profile, and other social media accounts. If someone stumbles onto your online materials, make sure they learn what you want them to learn about you and your potential to work in the space sector.
Step 7: Networking
Networking is important not only to find and obtain jobs, but also to build relationship with colleagues and to learn from one another.
If networking sounds exhausting or distasteful to you, I encourage you to think about it as professional relationship building or even meeting potential new friends and learning from each other.
Over the past couple of years during the pandemic, online networking has expanded to include many more options including websites such as LinkedIn and other social media platforms, virtual talks and conferences, online communities, website message board systems, and, of course, email.
First you must understand who is in your network now. Just a few space connections or hardly anyone at all? A broad space network? A narrow space network but deep in your specialty or interest? Who are the people you feel most comfortable reaching out to for advice or a conversation?
Most of my clients struggle with getting responses to their online networking messages, particularly on LinkedIn. If you’re sending a copy-and-paste message to 25 contacts, your response rate is going to be very low.
As with applying to jobs, communicating with potential contacts is about tailoring your message to the person you’re speaking with. Of all the people in the world, of all the people in the space community, of all the people at ___ company, of all the people doing ___ work, why are you reaching out to this particular person?
Keep your note brief and polite and end with a simple call to action. Most people do not respond because they do not know how to respond. Help that person by providing a prompt. It could be a request for a quick call, a recommendation on organizations to get involved with, an appropriate question about their work, or their opinion on the space sector.
It is especially key to learn about the person you are writing to. Do not send a LinkedIn message to someone asking what they do when they have a LinkedIn profile with information about what they do, for example. Learn about your potential connection before you compose your message so you can ask informed questions.
Networking in person can be even more beneficial than online networking such as the ability to make a memorable face-to-face connection and the accessibility of people who may be more difficult to access online.
Request to meet with someone at an event before the event begins, if possible. Seek out people who you want to connect with, but also keep your eyes open for interesting spontaneous connections and conversations.
Politely end a conversation when it’s time to move on from speaking with someone at an event so you can meet as many people as you’d like before the event ends.
And don’t forget your business cards! Giving out cards and collecting them from others will be helpful when you follow up with new connections after the event.
Step 8: Informational Interviews
You can have even deeper conversations with key contacts through informational interviews. These are often 15 – 60 minute private conversations over the phone, video chat, or in person to help you to better understand a specific career path, job, or person.
Prepare a set of questions ahead of time, but unlike press interviews, this conversation should just be between the two of you.
Step 9: Job Interviews
Most of us mere mortals get nervous with going through the job interview process. There are ways to prepare to calm our nerves. Practice with yourself or with others, for example. Explore how you might answer common questions regarding your past work and the type of work you are applying for.
Remember that you hold power in the interview process. Just as you’re trying to “sell” yourself to a potential employer, they are trying to “sell” themselves to you. They want you to maintain interest and excitement in the job so you will accept an offer if they give it. You have the power to say no. Stay confident in yourself.
Haven’t heard back after an interview? Unless you’ve been told otherwise, it’s fine to politely follow up after a week or two to ask what the next steps are. And don’t forget to thank your interviewers for their time.
Step 10: Offers
Trying to decide between great offers? I recommend a pro and con list or some way to weigh what you like and dislike about the opportunities in front of you.
There may even be ways of pursuing multiple opportunities at once, for example, attending university part-time while working full-time.
Step 11: Getting Unstuck
Are you feeling stuck in your current space job? Depending on your circumstances with your supervisor and company culture, you may be able to pursue the kind of work opportunities within your job that bring you more joy or job satisfaction.
Or perhaps you can pursue professional development activities, volunteer activities, or side gigs (paid if your contract allows) outside of work.
Step 12: Course Corrections
How are you feeling about your career path at this point? After all of this learning and growing, your dream job or your top-5 target list of potential employers may have evolved. And that’s just fine. Reassess every so often to follow the path that makes the most sense for you.
Step 13: Striking it Out on Your Own
Maybe you’re an entrepreneur at heart and your dream job is actually the job you create yourself. Begin working on your business plan.
What are your products and services, who are your customers, and who are your competitors? Do you need co-founders, seed funding, venture capital, or a government grant?
What is stopping you from beginning your business right now? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I really mean it. What are the barriers that have prevented you from starting your company, and when will be the right time for you to begin this new venture?
Ready for the Launch Your Space Career course? Access it now: https://www.lauraforczyk.com/courses
Have no prior space experience? I’ll guide you through your options and show you that you belong in this industry.
Already working in the space industry but it’s not going as well as you hoped and you’d like to find that better path? I’ll show you how to pivot from what you’ve done to what you truly would like to do.
By implementing the concepts and doing the exercises within this course, your will transform your career by the time you reach the last module. Investing in your career will bring you greater financial gains for years to come. But more importantly, finding the true path you’re called to pursue will bring you intangible joy and satisfaction.
I also offer one-on-one coaching via email and phone for clients who wish to launch their space careers. Visit https://www.lauraforczyk.com/spacecareer to learn more.
Invest in you. You’re worth it.
Careers in Space members get a 10% discount on coaching services! Just write in ‘Careers in Space’ when you fill out a coaching application