My first months as an ESA trainee

5 December 2011

Jonas Marie applied to be a YGT exactly one year ago. After some months at ESA, he now shares his experiences with us, including the difficulties in deciding which position to apply for, how his interview went, and what it means to him to now be a part of ESA.

I started as a YGT within the GAIA Flight Control Team at ESOC, Germany, in August 2011. The previous year, I had carried out two internships at ESOC within the Cluster and MEX FCTs where I learnt a lot from my team members and former YGTs about the YGT programme. This was exactly what I had been looking for. I liked the working environment at ESOC very much and I prefered a project related approach. But before applying, I first had to finish my last semester at university and, more importantly, figure out which one of the many positions would be the right one for me.

Jonas holds a Space Master Degree from Universität Würzburg, Germany

Fortunately, the many YGT opportunities offered online were quite specific, so I could compare my interests and skills with the different fields of activity. Furthermore, I was looking for a position in the Darmstadt area for family reasons, so that excluded the many YGT projects taking place at ESTEC in the Netherlands. After narrowing it down to two or three options, I did some more research on the different missions and projects to get a more detailed picture of what my future placement would look like and to decide on my final preference.

A big surprise: an invitation for an interview

The application was done online. What felt like two very long months later, I received an email inviting me to an interview. I wanted to be well prepared and tried to find online forums giving hints about what this interview might be like, but I only found a wide variety of statements ranging from in-depth technical interviews to psychological group exercises. In the end, I just looked at the training opportunity, read about the mission and thought of ways to carry out the proposed project.

Well prepared for ESA

In the end, the day of the interview was a lot of fun. All staff members involved in the process did their best to make us, the candidates, feel comfortable. I left ESOC without a clue of what my chances of getting the position were, but I felt like I had spent a nice day with interesting people. It was another few months before I received the call telling me that I had got the position. I was very happy and relieved, even though it took some time to sink in.

Reality check – the work that's being done

Currently, I am developing an AOCS tool to assist the flight control team in visualising spacecraft attitude over time, based on products prepared by the mission operations ground segment

A year at ESA. What comes next?

I have heard that it's common for YGTs to ‚'change sides' after one year and move on to a job in space industry for example. This first year of experience is for me an in-depth look at what it means to bring European space missions forward. I am not worried about moving on to another job after my year as a Young Graduate Trainee. Instead, I consider this 'deadline' a motivation to finish my projects in time. Of course, I would definitely like to stay at ESOC, but I do recommend this experience to anybody! Good luck to all of you!

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