Zo krijg je een baantje in de ruimtevaart

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Commerciële ruimtereizen worden booming business, zo geloven steeds meer bedrijven. En dus is er ook werk in te vinden. Maar hoe zorg je ervoor dat je daar mag komen werken?

Space isn’t just a nerdy interest; it’s also a potential career path for some MIT business school students.

The private space industry believes there’s a booming future in space tourism—and students at MIT’s Sloan School of Management want to make sure they, too, can get in on the action. A group of MBA students launched an aeronautics and space industry club in the fall, saying they hope it will help peers take advantage of growing career opportunities for business-minded space enthusiasts.

As Bloomberg Business reported last week, private spending on space travel has grown sixfold since 2010 and is projected to reach $10 billion by the end of this year. Space club students expect that jobs will follow. They swear it’s not just an excuse to host Star Trek-marathons.

“We’re seeing technological capacities that are beyond anything I could ever have imagined,” says Chris Holland, a second-year MBA student at Sloan who founded the space industry club.

“I want to get in on the ground floor.”

Networking events

Sloan’s aeronautics and space industry club, which currently counts about 97 student members, wants to bring industry recruiters to campus for networking events, plan social events (one proposed theme: “satellite reentry parties”), and hold interview boot camps to prepare MBAs for careers in space. It’s also taking time to geek out a little, too. Last fall, the club held an event with astrophysicists who explained the science behind Interstellar, the 2014 science fiction film. It was a Friday night. The room reached capacity.

Being a space nerd, while a common avocation at MIT, didn’t always translate to understanding the career potential of intergalactic travel. When Holland first started pitching the idea of the club with fellow Sloan student Rowland Graus, he said his peers weren’t really aware people could get jobs in the space industry. “We got feedback like, ‘I love Neil deGrasse Tyson,’ or ‘I’ve watched Cosmos,’” he says. Makes sense, given MIT’s rich history of astronauts (the school has produced more astronauts than any other nonmilitary school, according to a university website).

Unusual choice

Of course, as far as business school careers go, the private space industry is still a fairly unusual choice. Among Sloan’s Class of 2014, the companies that hired the most students were McKinsey, Bain & Co., Amazon.com, Boston Consulting Group, and Apple, a Sloan report shows—none of which are exactly known for their extraterrestrial activities.

Yet there are space companies out there that are hiring, online job postings show. They’re not just looking for engineers; they also want MBAs with the business finesse to advise them on the best way to mine an asteroid, or source all the parts for a new rocket. “The new space industry has developed some pretty amazing rockets, and now they need people to help them manufacture and fly them,” Holland says.

“Companies need people with financial planning and analysis skills, people who can conduct a cost-benefit analysis for what parts to buy.”

Holland’s dream job is astronaut—an aspiration shared by 7-year-olds worldwide, but one Holland may have a much better shot at. He interned last summer at Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, and, when interviewed, told his recruiter about his ultimate career goal. She said the company could make it happen.

“It’s the ultimate company perk,” Holland says.


    • Akane Otani