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5 things we learnt at the New Space WorkForce Xperience

New Space WorkForce Xperience

Last Thursday, we had an out-of-this world time hearing from space pros at the New Space WorkForce Xperience live webinar

Speaking to a crowd of students (who earlier in the day got to tour Optus’ satellite communications facility and later took part in fun space-themed activities like building CubeSats and bottle rockets) as well of stacks of schools online, the incredible New Space WorkForce Xperience panel included:

  • Annie Handmer (PhD), Satellite Policy and Industry Engagement Manager at Optus
  • Kirsten Banks, a proud Wiradjuri woman who is a rising star in the field of astrophysics and science communication. Read more about Kirsten here.
  • Andrew Murphy, Satellite Operations Graduate at Optus
  • Shae Ingram, Graduate Spacecraft Engineer at Optus

Annie Handmer, Kirsten Banks, Andrew Murphy & Shae Ingram

This webinar had one mission: to illuminate the exciting careers awaiting young people in the rapidly expanding Australian Space Sector! And here’s what we learnt…

1. The finalists of the Australian Virtual Astronaut challenge

Announced at the start of the New Space WorkForce Xperience webinar, these schools will have three minutes to pitch at the Great Space Pitch on December 6 at the Young Space Explorers event in Sydney.

High schools

  1. Tara Anglican School for Girls
  2. Birrong Girls High School
  3. Catherine McAuley, Westmead

Primary schools

  • Epping Public School
  • Methodist Ladies’ College

2. There are SO many career opportunities in space, and you don’t need to leave Earth for them

Find more space careers in this special edition of Careers with STEM

Maroun El Khoury, Executive Director for Investment NSW, kicked things off at the New Space WorkForce Xperience webinar by speaking about all the different roles students could dive into in the space industry, including cyber security, law and psychology. Communications is another exciting area to consider. “In communications, you could develop systems that keep astronauts connected or revolutionise how we share information across the globe,” Maroun said.

Considering a career in space? Maroun thinks you should go for it because it means you’ll be at the forefront of shaping out future.

3. It’s not all about maths and science

Maths is awesome, but if it’s not your jam don’t think there’s no room for you in the space sector. Annie Handmer, Satellite Policy and Industry Engagement Manager at Optus, said, “You can work in the space sector even if you’re a person who doesn’t graviate towards maths and science in high school. I personally took music, English and Latin for the HSC, and when I went to university I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and ended up doing a PhD in something so niche, and everyone told me that I’d never get a job. I ended up being fine.”

4. You can mix art with space to build your dream job

Kirsten Banks speaking at the New Space WorkForce Xperience live webinar

If space + creativity is your STEM + X, you’re in luck. “For artists, there are huge opportunities,” says Annie. This includes things like 3D modelling for simulation, spectulative artwork to understand what a landscape or habitat might look like on a different planet, or creating art inspired by space.

Kirsten Banks, a science communicator, added that artists can also recolourise images captured in black and white from telescopes, such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

Are you passionate about writing and/or video creation? You can take these skills, add ’em to space study and turn it into a cool career where you share scientific information in an engaging way that everyone can understand. Kirsten said, “Science can be very hard to grasp but what I want to do [in my career as a science communicator] is to make it much more accessible and fun – because learning about science and especially space can be really, really fun.”

5. It’s okay to feel unsure…

…whether that’s about your skills, what path to take, or if you feel like you might not belong where you want to end up. Take a deep breath and don’t panic. Shae Ingram and Andrew Murphy, both in graduate positions at Optus, shared that no matter where you are in your study and career journey, it’s normal to feel imposter syndrome.

Shae especially felt imposter syndrome at university and her top tip to overcome it is to find your own support network. She also suggests, “If you know what you want to do but feel like you might not belong, just remember there’s someone who might come after you who needs a role model and you can be that role model.”

RELATED: Find your STEM role model

Andrew said, “We’ve come into a workplace that has a lot of very, very smart people and you can feel extremely overwhelmed at first. So it’s all about learning how to deal with not knowing things and like Shae mentioned, it’s about finding a support network and people you can go to for advice.” He also recommends reminding yourself of everything you’ve had to achieve to get to this position, and that those senior to you have also been in your shoes.

A special thanks to NSW Space Research Network, Optus, NSW Government & SISP, and Fizzics Education for this brilliant live webinar and event!

Want more on space careers?

Check these out:

View more space stories in our Space section! You can also meet role models working in space careers here.

Sign up to the Careers with STEM e-newsletter to keep up to date on all things space study and careers!

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