Ditch the Yellow Brick Road

Interning at Space Tango has certainly put project management into perspective. Throughout my last four years at Riddle nothing was more challenging to me than staying on task. Assignments sometimes require so much more than we expect.

So what happens when you give a communication major MATLAB for a math gen ed? What happens when you give an engineer a business plan? Or a paper to write? Or a lab to test for safety and health issues? At Space Tango, the CEO is more than just a businessman. Twyman Clements is not only an engineer, but sometimes he’s a marketing specialist, a technical report writer, and a human factors psychologist all in one day. Staying on task means taking on extra responsibility.
On the International Space Station, astronauts have a VERY strict schedule. Their days are planned out by the second. Astronauts don’t get to float back and watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers. They have to follow the red line. On their schedule, known as the Onboard Short Term Plan Viewer (OSTPV), a dotted red line runs across the screen at the pace they should be working. Astronauts use this to figure out if they are on task, or behind.

An old OSTPV that astronauts use. The dotted red line indicates where on their schedule astronauts should be.

An old OSTPV that astronauts use. The dotted red line indicates where on their schedule astronauts should be.

As we know, each astronaut is extensively skilled. They’re more than just astronauts. They’re physicists, biomedical engineers, researchers, and many of which are parents, too. “Astronaut” is a pretty broad title, and even with all their responsibility they manage to follow the red line.

We often overlook the humanities courses that we take, but I’m witnessing first-hand how it all fits together. We aren’t astronauts (not yet at least if that’s what you’re in to), but we are taught to recognize how interdependent our classes really are. The minors you take will only expand the depth of your knowledge.
I’m studying communication, but I don’t just focus on the complexities of grammar and speech. As a communication major I have to understand body language and the art of persuasion all while maintaining background knowledge in the subjects I address. I have to target an audience based on their interests and needs.

All of this sometimes, and more often than not, means I need to understand sociology, psychology, engineering, commercial space laws, international relations, marketing, physics, astronomy, organizational behavior – the list goes on. These are only a few of the subjects I’ve researched for papers, speeches, and interviews. It’s a lot, but by understanding everything, not only am I more valuable to a company, but I can depend on myself to get everything done on time.
I’m not an astronaut, but how could I ever say I’m just a communication major? I’m so much more than a writer and you are so much more than your major. We’re all just following the red line.

⋆ Dani

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