Interview Assessment 5 - Matthew Stahr
Matthew Stahr works for the U.S. Air Force, specializing in weapons system analysis. Our interview focused on the ISM program and my mentor search, as well as my “place” in the professional world. I was really excited about this interview because Coach Beagle spoke very highly of him, so I went into the interview with high expectations. Somehow the interview ended up being even better than I expected.
The purpose of this interview was to gain contacts for my mentor search because it is getting very close to the deadline. Mr. Stahr and I talked about what qualities I was searching for in a mentor and how far I would be willing to drive. Lockheed Martin is a huge aerospace company and it is situated out in Fort Worth. Mr. Stahr said he would reach out to contacts in Lockheed Martin. Following the interview, I reached out to Mr. Stahr about the contacts and I am waiting for a response, since I just sent the email a few minutes ago. I also felt more motivated to find a mentor, so I reached out to every professional I had an interview with for contacts and recommendations. Mr. Stahr stressed the importance of effort and taking risks. The conversation with him really made me realize that reaching out to everyone I know in a professional manner is necessary, regardless of my fear of rejection. Nothing bad can happen from actively trying to get interviews. Additionally, he also help me realize that I should be less specific when looking for a mentor and should instead reach out to all types of aerospace engineers. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are large aeronautical companies, but through their wide reach and connections I would be able to still gain astronautical experience. All aerospace companies have some branch or connections in the space world and I just need to find them.
Mr. Stahr also helped me realize that a future in astronautical engineering does not necessarily need to be purely technical. He believes that business skills and classes are essential to working on big picture projects, which is exactly what I want to be doing. Mr. Stahr actually segwayed from aerospace engineering into a more business role. These positions are interesting because you need to understand the technical language and have a technical background, but have a role on organizing and working on the future of the high profile projects. The high profile SpaceX engineers all have a minor in business or extensive experience in the field and since SpaceX is my dream company, I should take notice. After this conversation, I realized that I could reach out to professionals in managerial or organizational positions in large aerospace companies because they can also help me get into the workplace and would have many contacts.
This interview really forced me to accept taking risk and contacting everyone who seems like a potential mentor and interview. More importantly, the impending deadline forced me to follow up with contacts and people I know. My mentor search is my focus right now and everything I am doing has to do with finding a mentor. This interview allowed me to change my mindset and gave me the motivation necessary to put in a lot more effort in finding a mentor. Going forward, I am going to routinely follow up with professionals and make a habit of keeping connections. I am determined to do anything I need to do to find a great mentor.