The Space Industry offers a wide variety of careers and opportunities. You might be surprised at the variety of opportunities across maths, physics, chemistry, engineering and computing.
The Space Science and Technology sector typically employes people with primary degrees (NFQ Levels 7 or 8) and with a relatively high proportion of employees at postgraduate level (NFQ Levels 9 and 10).
The “space” sector in Ireland is quite varied and includes companies from many areas of technology. These include aerospace, structures, electronics, optoelectronics, software and bio-diagnostics.
School leavers should think about continuing their education at third level, before considering a career in the space sector.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
I never intended to go into science communication – I don’t think I even realised it was a career when I began. I started out with a plan to do research and along the way I have deviated and ended up in communication. I have always tried to make the most out of whatever job I had and despite having no fixed long-term career goal I have found myself in very interesting and challenging roles. Each of them have provided me with the chance to develop new skills – so despite not doing research, which was what I thought I would do when I left University, I have still experienced the satisfaction of discovery and development that I expected to find from research.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Sister Assumpta at Rockford Manor Secondary School in Blackrock taught higher-level mathematics and introduced physics lessons outside school hours. This meant that a few students at the school, including me, could go on to study science at University. Looking back, I think this had the most impact on the path I followed.
How did you go about getting your current job?
Describe a typical day?
A typical day is when I don’t get to work on what I had planned to work on! Each day I will spend some time commissioning new material or editing material that has been written by someone else. I spend a lot of time checking facts and statements. Some time is spent coordinating with other PR partners, running the editorial board, scheduling publications, and planning for new outreach projects.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
I’m responsible for commissioning articles, illustrations, and outreach material for publication online, and for ensuring that the content is factually correct. I also work with data visualisation experts to develop interactive tools for outreach, and I’m involved in Art-Science collaborations that bring artists and scientists together to foster new ideas.
What are the main challenges?
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
In secondary school I studied mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology, as well as English, Irish, French, and History. I planned to study science at University with a view to going into the chemical industry. It just happened that I was better at physics and found myself drawn towards a degree in that subject.
What is your education to date?
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Working on the communication campaign for ESA’s mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was very rewarding because it showed me how people really pull together under very difficult circumstances to get the job done. I enjoyed working on the Gaia space astrometry mission as information manager because I got to see how many diverse people with different expertises collaborate to make this remarkable mission a reality.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
What is your dream job?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Read a lot – it’s a great way to find new ways to express ideas. Write a lot, even if just for yourself, so that you get used to communicating your ideas on paper. Develop your time management skills – that is crucial when working in an area that has very tight deadlines. Learn more languages – it’s very helpful to have an insight into how people express themselves in different languages.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?