How to get an engineering job at SpaceX

A recent post on the Quora question-answer site shows how tough it is to get an engineering job at the cutting-edge rocket house SpaceX.

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.

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Lee Teschler

Leland serves as 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...
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