Aiming for the Stars

If you read this blog as a software engineer, I apologize because for once I will not talk about software at all. I will talk about space, and me. I decided to talk about it because according to my twitter timeline, lots of people that might read this blog also like space stuff.
Unless you’re living in a cave and/or have absolutely no interest in space, you probably know that the European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for a new batch of astronauts.

And I actually mean it.

So, you think you can be an astronaut?

Yes, obviously, I mean who can doubt about that? Of course I’m kidding. I will probably be discarded pretty early in the selection process. But that’s certainly not a good reason for not trying. Whatever the issue, I will learn a ton of stuff about space and what is actually expected from an astronaut. And if I have the chance to go through the CV screening, I might even meet in person some of the next astronaut generation. How cool is that?

Have you any chance at all?

To be honest, I prefer not to think about that. Which probably means “no but if I think about it, I may lose the motivation to even try”. So let’s see what ESA is looking for:

 Master’s degree (possibly in Computer Sciences)
=> Check.

Willing to perform arduous physical activities
=> I can bear with that, I already have daily sports routine and would be glad to take more time for it.

Clear, concise and considerate communication is a must
=> Can always improve, but at least I’m used to it.

Excellent fine motor skills
=> At least I had when I was young.

Strong analytical and reporting skills, the ability to rapidly assimilate and synthesize complex information and sound decision-making capabilities
=> Sound like the daily routine for a programmer, right?

The workload of an astronaut is high and working hours can be irregular, hence high level of motivation
=> Like the workload of an astronaut, the workload of an entrepreneur is irregular and requires a high level of motivation

Should be passionate about sharing their knowledge, with a willingness to engage wide audiences
=> Indeed I like to share, even when it’s not knowledge.

Good reasoning capability
=> Again seems ok when your job is to build software.

The ability to work under stress
=> I can work under stress. As long as you don’t ask me to be efficient under stress…

Memory and concentration skills
=> That’s clearly not my main asset, but I’m sure I can work on it, and it would actually help me for other areas in my life.

A candidate’s personality should show high motivation, flexibility, gregariousness, empathy, non-aggression and emotional stability
=> Here again I must say that we have to work on these soft skills as a consultant in software design.

Of course I’m aware that going to space is several orders of magnitude harder than coding on a computer, but I have at least some traits of a potential candidate, and this was already unexpected!

What are the steps of the selection process?

The first step is to provide an awesome CV and cover letter. Then if I have the chance to go through the screening, I may have a chance to take psychological tests.  And if it goes well, I will have psychometric tests. And after that a batch of medical tests and interviews…
In other words, I’ll be very happy already if I can stay in the process until the psychometric tests. Especially because according to what I know of the selection process, these tests are quite “fun”. The kinds of tests you remember for the rest of your life I guess.

Why do you share an almost certain failure with us?

First of all, I hope that this post can help some people with doubts about their capabilities to take their chances. The only way to be certain to fail is to not even try.
The second point is that whatever happens, I’m sure I will learn a lot through the process, and that some of the things I’ll learn will interest some of my readers.
Last but not least, I hope that you can give me tips and tricks to have the best chance to go through each step.

So for now if you have any advice about how to write a CV and a cover letter that might get some attention from a Space Agency when you’re a software developer, I will be glad to hear about it!

To be continued…