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5 Tips for JPL Summer Students

5 Tips for JPL Summer Students JPL interns, summer 2009. Image credit: NASA/JPL


May 10, 2010

Every summer, more than 300 students come to JPL on academic or temporary employment programs. Most are college or graduate students accepted to a wide range of NASA, JPL or Caltech academic programs. These programs also bring in some high school students, postdoctoral candidates and college faculty. Besides knowing that JPL and the surrounding area can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, we polled our current student groups and their advisers for tips to pass along.

1. Network
As students, you are here to conduct research projects or work in a summer job. However, you are also here because you probably want to work for NASA some day or pursue an engineering- or science-related career. Take time to meet some of the talented scientists and engineers who make space missions happen. Getting to know people now will help when you apply for your next internship or job. And don't forget to meet the other students here this summer.

2. Participate
Don't stay in your assigned lab or cubicle all day. As a summer student, you can tour some of JPL's unique labs, attend weekly lectures given by scientists and engineers, and have a practice job interview as part of our career fair. Sign up for the Student Programs Calendar once you arrive so you stay connected with all the summer events.

3. Ask Questions
Scientists and engineers are curious by nature! Ask your mentor or colleagues questions about your job, how JPL works with NASA and how they came to work at JPL. Find out what schools they attended and see if those are schools to consider for yourself. Depending on what program you are on, the JPL Education Office and Human Resources also have people assigned to help you navigate the JPL community.

4. Dress Code
Comfortable and casual is the rule here but this is a professional work environment. Use common sense, as first impressions are important. Casual dress is fine, but definitely not beach wear. Also, bring one business outfit for your final presentation.

5. Transportation and Housing
Airports:The Burbank Airport is the closest airport to JPL. The drive from the airport is about 25 minutes, although traffic could make it longer. The Los Angeles International Airport is the largest airport in the area. It takes about 40 minutes – with light traffic – to get to JPL.

Daily Transportation: The Los Angeles area has lots of freeways, and cars are the common mode of transportation. However, Pasadena has a good network of local buses that many students use over the summer. Public transportation is also a good idea because JPL's very large parking lots fill up quickly on weekday mornings.

Pasadena's bus information can be found here:

http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/trans/transit/trans_arts.asp

Housing: Some programs provide housing – you would already know if you are on a program that offers housing assistance. If you are not, there are short-term apartment rentals in the area. The closest cities to JPL are Glendale, La Crescenta, La Canada, Pasadena, Altadena and South Pasadena.