Launching a career in public relations at NASA

Madison Tuttle (second from left) and her friends get a photo in front of a shuttle carrier aircraft at Space Center Houston.

By Madison Tuttle

Year In School: Senior

Major: Public Relations

Internship: Communications Intern, NASA’s Johnson Space Center (Houston)

I’ve never been a crier, but the moment I walked in the doors at Space Center Houston I was almost brought to tears. I have been dreaming of this moment since I was 5, and the sight of the modules and rovers inside the museum doors returned me to the childlike curiosity that had inspired me to apply for an internship.

I moved into my summer-home in the suburbs of Houston and got settled in. It was the eve of my first day at work and there was an intern dinner being hosted at a restaurant right on the lake. I had yet to meet my roommate, but I asked her if she wanted to go with me (frankly the thought of going alone greatly intimidated me)

It was amazing. I sat at a table with interns from around the country and discussed our backgrounds and our hopes for the summer. Being surrounded by people that share my passion for space exploration and technology made for an amazingly fun night; plus, I found a great group of friends.

Day One on the job was hectic to say the least. NASA was getting ready to announce a new astronaut class the following day and it was all hands on deck in the Public Affairs Office (PAO).

The manager of my branch was kind enough to show me around the office and loop me in on preparations for the new astronaut class.

Vice President Pence and members of the national media swarmed the space center for the announcement, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance. I had idolized astronauts since I was a child and being in a room with the future of human space flight was an incredible experience.

Outside of work hours, Tuttle and her friends explored Pleasure Pier, which is located in Galveston, Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico.
Outside of work hours, Tuttle and her friends explored Pleasure Pier, which is located in Galveston, Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico.
The day only got better. After the announcement, I was asked to help out with a Reddit AMA in which the new astronauts answered questions with users from the site. I was paired up with new astronaut Loral O’Hara, and I helped her answer some questions.

She was amazing. Not only is her background incredible, she was also kind and excited to engage with an audience.

I’m not sure I will ever have a more exciting first week of work.

Once things settled down in the PAO office I began working on my summer projects and getting acclimated to the office.

I have had the privilege of writing two articles that were published online. There are so many projects happening at Johnson Space Center and agency-wide, so I was incredibly humbled to document a couple of the great things happening.

In addition to PAO projects I will also be assisting in the communications department for ORION, which is NASA’s project to get humans beyond the moon and eventually to Mars. I could dedicate entire blog posts just to share my excitement about this project.

I love my job and all the projects I’m working on, but the city of Houston has a lot of offer too. There are amazing restaurants, great concerts and the Gulf of Mexico is a short drive away. We head to the beach every weekend and go out to eat probably more than we should.

I was nervous to leave home. I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough at my job or I’d get homesick, but that hasn’t been the case. My work environment and coworkers are amazing, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store.