Why I Left My NASA Engineering Job

I get a lot of questions about why I left NASA. It was my dream job since third grade, and I worked hard to get there. So did I get fired? Did I quit? I’m ready to clear the air and share my story about why I left the NASA engineering program.

Pursuing NASA

When I started pursuing NASA, I was in third grade. The movie Apollo 13 inspired me and got me interested in space and astronauts. I was fascinated with the perseverance of the team, and the mindset of failure isn’t an option.

I went to Purdue University and was admitted into their engineering program. I applied to eleven universities but wanted to go to Purdue because I read that’s where the majority of all the astronauts went to school! I had a lot of pride in going to Purdue studying civil engineering.

My first internship with NASA was in California. I was in a program called EarthKam (which is part of Sally Ride Science). I later did a NASA engineering internship at Kennedy Space Center and had a phenomenal experience. From there, I applied for the Co-Op program and joined the team in 2009. I’ll never forget the honor I felt to finally work for NASA. I was working in a Constellation Program and was so excited to work on projects that were going back to the moon.

Leaving NASA Engineering

Unfortunately, in 2010, the Constellation Program got canceled. The things I was working on with my team were being rerouted to other departments, canceled, or moved down the priority list. This was so hard for me because this was my first job in engineering where I’m applying things I learned at university into the real world. I was getting discouraged, especially when the energy changed at work due to layoffs, hiring freezes and more.. 

During this time, I started noticing my passions changing. I was looking forward to yoga classes more than work because I was trying to cope with the changes in the office. I was beginning to realize my purpose might not be in engineering. I had other passions and was neglecting other important things in my life, like my family. I was so career-focused, and some parts of that were unhealthy. 

I finally accepted that I wasn’t a failure for leaving my NASA job. The little voice in my head telling me it was time to move on was right. 

If you’re going through a life change like I did, I have some encouragement for you. Leaving NASA turned out to be the best thing I did. I discovered new passions and have met some amazing people in my entrepreneurial journey. I’m so grateful to have worked for NASA, but I’m so glad I now get to work one-on-one with women and students to help them achieve their wellness and education goals. 

It’s okay to change your mind and make a change. My best advice is to do what’s best for you, even if people think you’re crazy. It might just be the best thing you do in life ❤

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Laila is a Holistic Nutrition Coach and Math Tutor. She is goal driven and mission oriented and is here to support, encourage, and push you towards the results you want, ready to help people of all ages become mission-fit to explore their full potential. As someone with ADHD and dyslexia, she deeply understands the intricate challenges related to creating a new habit and sticking with it. Her online nutrition programs and online math tutoring cater to those with similar difficulties.

To learn more about Laila, or to inquire about working with her, visit www.LailaAlieh.com.

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