Aparna Rajesh

Software engineering intern at SES, undergraduate computer science student, Stevens Institute of Technology

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If something interests you, dive into it headfirst; don't let anything stop you.

What do you do?

I work on the development of software for satellites that are currently orbiting the earth and for satellite operators who control and monitor satellites from different locations across the globe.

Why did you choose this field?

Prior to immigrating to America, my mother had worked at ISRO, the NASA of India. Both my parents spoke about the two organizations often and spent a significant amount curled up in our living room, watching space documentaries and lectures with me. They fostered my interest in aerospace.
By the time I reached high school, I found a passion for computer science through the FIRST Tech Challenge. My parents, being software developers themselves, were able to support me through my journey. Within my first year of joining FTC robotics, I became the captain of an all-girls team and eventually came in contact with employees of our sponsors. SES, a satellite company, happened to be our primary sponsor that year. SES employees, impressed by my work in robotics, were quick to change their company's rules regarding interns in order to allow for high school students to intern at the company and offer me an internship position at their Princeton location. I have been working for the company every summer since then. It has enabled me to find a line of work that allows me to explore both of my interests.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Why do you love working in STEM?

The thrill of knowing that my work is being used onboard satellites that are out in space, or when I was participating in robotics, seeing my robot run on the competition field following the code and using mechanisms that I had built. Part of the excitement comes from seeing it all function properly after racing against the clock to get all our work done, and part of it is working with people who are equally excited about the whole process.

Best advice for next generation?

If something interests you, dive into it headfirst; don't let anything stop you. You are more than capable of becoming an expert.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Don't wait. The time will never be just right" - Napoleon Hill

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