Betsy Reimer’s internship is literally getting her “off the ground.”
The senior business major is spending the fall semester at the NASA History Office in Washington, D.C. as part of her participation in the Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP). The program connects NWU students to an array of internships in the nation’s capitol.
“I never imagined myself participating in CHIP,” Reimer said.
That was until history professor Meghan Winchell mentioned it in class.
“I attended an informational event on campus and heard from students who had experienced CHIP themselves and started seriously considering this chance. With more thought and discussion, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and experience a new city.”
What wasn’t clear though was what she wanted to do in that new city.
“I knew I wanted to find something related to business since I needed a business internship to graduate.”
That’s when Winchell recommended the NASA History Office.
It wouldn’t be unchartered territory, Winchell said. Senior Nolan Lott was the first NWU student to intern there in fall 2014 followed Rachel Kirschenmann who spent the spring semester of her senior year there. Lott visited with Reimer about his experience, which included documenting and preserving NASA’s history through publications, photos, websites, databases and historical reference collections.
“After sending in my information and speaking with the history office at NASA, I knew this was what I wanted to do,” said Reimer.
Not only did the NASA History Office select another NWU student for their fall internship program, but Reimer was the only college student selected for the position.
Reimer’s primary responsibility is managing the office’s social media presence.
“I have to research the events that took place on each day and formulate tweets that are accurate.”
She attends the communication department’s daily meetings and writes feature stories. She recently wrote about hackers as it related to the major motion picture “The Martian.” Her work led to an opportunity to attend a pre-screening of the film at National Geographic and a briefing with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden regarding NASA’s real journey to Mars.
“The hardest thing to teach in this sort of environment is the ability to write a good, short article or social media post and get it done on a deadline,” said NASA’s Chief Historian Bill Barry. “So our big discriminator among applicants is the writing sample that we ask for. NWU students that we've seen are strong writers and that gets them in the door. But we've also been very impressed with the work ethic, attention to detail, and general good nature of all of the interns we've had from NWU.”
With just over a month to go at NASA, Reimer is eager to learn more before returning to NWU.
“I especially want to learn more about the type of writing voice that is required for feature articles on the NASA history web page. Although my history classes have prepared me for research and factual writing, the voice necessary to reach the public is much more informal. With the help of my supervisor, I hope to master this skill,” said the senior from Lincoln.
Reimer said her internship is a great step in shaping her career path.
“I am a business administration major with minors in communication studies and history. I hope to combine all of these subjects into an ideal job,” said Reimer. “My internship at NASA combines communicating with the public, researching the history of the organization, and learning how to appropriately communicate news and events in a business-like manner to the public.”
While she admits her preferred career will focus more on financial operations, Reimer doesn’t doubt the value of her Washington, D.C. opportunity.
“This experience is allowing me to grow as a person and really push myself to experience new things.”
Story by Alessandro Schirano, Public Relations Intern