How to get an engineering job at SpaceX

May 2, 2014

SpaceX, the company founded to revolutionize space technology, has been making headlines recently with its successful test of the reusable Falcon 9 rocket, along with some pretty impressive video footage. In the latest test of its capabilities, the reusable rocket flies up to 3,280 ft and then lands safely.

A recently released video is said to show the last moments of the Falcon 9 booster as it made a controlled, zero-velocity landing on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean on April 26. Of course, you can't really tell this from the video. It is badly jumbled because of a weak communication link. SpaceX released the video anyway in interest of crowdsourcing a fix.

The landing came after the rocket lifted cargo into orbit to resupply the International Space Station. To return, the booster fired its engine for a re-entry burn, then fired its engine again to make a controlled soft landing at zero velocity as if on dry land.

For kicks, I checked out the SpaceX web site and discovered that company has listed over 100 openings for engineers of various types. As luck would have it, the question-and-answer site Quora has a thread on SpaceX called, "Can I get a job at SpaceX after graduating from a low-ranked engineering program?" There is one answer. It comes from someone claiming to have been a SpaceX recruiter for almost six years.

This person has some interesting things to say. "SpaceX aggressively pursues top collegiate talent; but because the hiring bar (mandate per Elon) is top 1% of the human population - we focus on top ranked engineering programs because their strict acceptance requirements are a good prefilter and remove 90% of the bell curve, thereby automatically bringing us to about top 10% of the college population; making our haystack much smaller and thus easier to find the proverbial needles," she begins.

Her answer includes this: "Your application needs to catch the attention of recruiters who are looking for MIT 5.0's - it needs to shine through the Ivy League flood of applications. But if you have videos of badass projects you have built - you CAN shine through."

Another interesting recommendation: Be a FIRST mentor. The whole post is worth reading.

About the Author

Lee Teschler | Editor

Leland was Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design. He has 34 years of Service and holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan, a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan;, and a MBA from Cleveland State University. Prior to joining Penton, Lee worked as a Communications design engineer for the U.S. Government.

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