I first got to meet Beth because I was lucky enough to attend the very last Space Shuttle Launch for STS-135. I was immediately attracted to her vibrant, young, and passionate spirit that day. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to talk candidly about her experience at NASA.
Beth Beck has been with NASA for 25 years and currently enjoys a position where she gets to tell the story of space. She has worked all over the company from budget, to policy analysis, to editor of the website, and more. However, she’ll be the first to tell you that NASA was not her first choice with the Presidential Management Fellow Program and she wasn’t a space geek to start out with either.
Growing up she loved playing outside, playing sports, and racing cars that her dad would setup on their dinning room table. Initially Beth thought she would go to college for a degree in Home Economics, but after a fateful trip as a foreign exchange student after high school, she realized she had a love for language and wanted to study overseas. Beth wrote the White House and asked what career path she should follow to make those interests into a job. The White House responded and told her she should get a degree in Government, study languages, and get a job with the Foreign Service. When she met her future husband, whom could not work overseas, Beth made the difficult decision to let go of the Foreign Service dream. She ultimately went to grad school, which led her on the path to the Presidential Management Fellowship that led her to NASA. It was actually her ex-husband that encouraged her to try NASA. To Beth’s delight, NASA in the end has brought on a few chances for her to still travel abroad, as she worked at the International Office for five years, which included a negotiation with Norway and NASA over the Sounding Rocket campaign.
Listen to her journey over the last 25 years that spans being a mother, “being a quota”, the difference between being the best woman in the workplace vs the best employee in the workplace, and why we should be willing to say, “I don’t know, let’s figure it out!” instead of “no.”
Also, be sure to check out her blog post about the visit to the toy conference.