aerospace engineer at Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs
Lauren is a Master of Science candidate at Johns Hopkins University’s Space Systems Engineering program. Having often been the only woman in the room for the past half decade, she is just as passionate about engineering and space exploration as she is about encouraging women to pursue careers in aerospace. Even as a recent university graduate, she has had an extensive background in both commercial and military aerospace engineering. Lauren worked in this industry throughout the entirety of her degree–starting when she was 19 years old at American Airlines Engineering and later, F-35 Systems Engineering at Lockheed Martin, where she stayed full-time until graduation. She has also performed comprehensive research in the future of hypersonic technologies, specifically focusing on hypersonic air-breathing engine propulsion and hypersonic vehicle conceptual design forecasting. Lauren has also been a pilot for six years, and she plans on continuing to build hours in order to have a more robust astronaut application in the near future. Lauren aspires to complete a PhD in aerospace engineering while continuing to work in industry, to become a prominent technical leader in the aerospace industry, to inspire and encourage more women to work alongside her, and one day explore the final frontier (space) herself.
The start of my journey
Try and Try Until You Succeed
The joy of being an aerospace engineer
I will never forget my first time seeing a 777-200 in person. I had flown and traveled extensively prior to this experience, but to walk beneath one of these aircraft was something amazing. This was my new job—to upgrade, maintain, fix, and prototype all furniture, emergency equipment, and interior items on the 777-200, 777-300, A330, 767-200/-300, and 757. I was in my element. Having unprecedented access to some of the largest airplanes in the world—capable of carrying more than 270 people—and getting to make changes to them was an incredible experience. I got to travel the world with the flight benefits that came with working for the airline, as well as go on several business trips. Towards the end of my eight months, I started pressing my manager to keep me part-time when I was slated to go back to school in person because I was supporting myself through school and co-op money is very good. I was repeatedly told “no.” I said my goodbyes and went to Mexico for a friend’s wedding after my last day. While I was checking into the resort, I got a text from my former lead engineer telling me to not be late on Monday. They had decided to keep me!
It's all about hard work and patience
Start of my grad journey
Lauren's Advice To You
- I advise everyone interested in doing a master’s to find a company that will pay for it. My master’s degree costs around $45,000, and I would not be able to pay that out of pocket! Most companies will pay around $75,000 USD towards continued education. You’ll have to work full-time while you study, but it relieves a huge financial burden, not to mention the gained experience and income you’ll be earning in the meantime! Not contributing to a 401k during the first few years post-graduate can make a massive difference in retirement savings.
- For new hires in the US: contribute to your 401k immediately and as much as you are able! I am currently balancing paying off $20k+ in undergraduate debt on top of saving and putting money away into my 401k, so I work out a percentage that I am comfortable with putting away in my retirement fund. The earlier you do this, the more your money will grow due to compounding interest compared to if you wait to contribute far more money later in life.
- Don’t be afraid to readjust your career path after experiences in an internship or job! Life and learning are journeys—don’t be afraid to start over in your late 20s or 30s. If you aren’t happy doing what you’re doing, then make a plan to change it! The first purpose of a job will always be to earn money and benefits, but it is very important that you actually like what you do. Bonus points if you feel fulfilled doing it!
- The only way to know if you will like something is by doing it—this is why I encourage everyone to intern often and as much as possible. You’ll gain valuable knowledge and experience you can’t gain in a classroom. Plus, internship money is usually great and comes with benefits like health insurance!
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