Internship Spotlight – Alexis Lugo, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Eller PDC Coordinator Student Stories

Alexis Lugo was a Bussiness Management and Entrepreneurship Major and graduated in May of 2018. This past summer he interned for NASA as a Financial Analyst Intern in Greenbelt, Maryland.

How did you get this internship? I was referred to NASA’s internship portal through a contact I made in DC last summer. Once I applied to several positions, I reached out to one of Goddard’s recruiting managers, Esteban Morales, and he put me in contact with the Deputy CFO, Frank Ramos. He then helped me get an internship in the CFO’s office. Networking played a huge role.

What was a typical day like? I stayed with two other interns, so we carpooled to work every morning. We arrived on-center at about 8:00 am each morning. Once in the office, I greeted everyone there, got some coffee, then pulled out my assigned laptop and started working on projects the CFO had previously assigned. His office was right next to mine so I spoke to him often if I had any questions. I also made sure to check up on everyone in the office to let them know I could help anytime. And I also met with other NASA employees for my summer project. Everyday was different from the last as my assignments changed from one day to the next depending on what the CFO’s team was working on. Interns also had access to periodic events that ranged from speaker events to viewing parties for astronauts aboard the International Space Station to large gathering with food trucks and fun activities.

What was your favorite part of the experience? My favorite part was being able to see some of the Goddard’s technology. I was able to enter one of their testing facilities and witness some pretty cool technology. Goddard is one of the most technologically advanced centers in the world with the largest scientist population. Speaking with other incredibly intelligent interns and employees made the experience truly one of a kind.

If you worked on a big project, please describe it below: All interns had to work on a summer project. Mine was to help create a preliminary training program for employees transitioning to the office of the CFO. Over 250 employees from across the center would be moving to this office. This would mean that they would get new responsibilities and new supervisors. To help alleviate some of the issues that will naturally arise, I proposed a new training program that would help these employees get the necessary skills to continue being successful at Goddard. Classes addressed topics such as risk management, cost analysis, and planning and modeling. I consulted with other NASA employees and used similar training programs already in place as inspiration.

I created a poster and had to present my project during the annual intern poster session. I also presented this project to senior management at the end of my internship.

What did you find most challenging about your internship? The most challenging part was getting up to speed with the current projects going on already in the office. I also had to work hard to prove myself a value member of the office and in the end, I think I made a good impression on them. It took some time for some of the employee to trust me with important assignments.

What advice do you have for other students looking for a similar internship? I would say to not limit yourself. Although NASA is known for their feats in technology and scientific research, they still function like any other business and hence they need business people. I love space and always dreamed of working at NASA so I did a lot of research on their internship program, kept applying, and networked. I got interviewed and passed up for a NASA internship twice before finally getting in. There are going to be rejections along the way but don’t let this deter your; instead use it as motivation.

How did Eller prepare you for your internship? I got all the general business concepts I needed. For this internship, my accounting and finance skills helped a lot. Being a part of Eller has been a great motivator in my life.

Did your internship employer provide housing or transportation assistance? My employer provided resources for me to secure housing and/or find a roommate.

Anything else you would like to share about your internship experience? This was such an amazing opportunity that I think other U of A students should look into. I didn’t see many schools represented from the West side of the U.S. so it would be great to see more diversity out here.