Communication major looks to the stars with NASA internship


Ever since sixth grade, Ricky Chang looked up at the stars and wondered what could be out there in the vastness of unexplored space.

Ricky Chang poses at Goddard Space Flight Center
Photo provided by NASA

Now, he has a front row seat to interstellar research.

The brand-new George Mason University alum spent the summer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a Commercialization, Innovation and Synergies Office (CIS) intern. “I’ve always admired NASA, so it’s kind of like a fever dream” said Chang, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in communication. “It’s really cool seeing all these knowledgeable and passionate people working on amazing projects. I haven’t met a single person who isn’t excited to be here.”

The CIS Office finds government and industry partners to work with on space research and exploration. “NASA sets the policy, while private industry advances the technology,” Chang explained. “CIS helps the aerospace community to understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and—hopefully—want to be a part of it.”

His work was predominantly content marketing: creating video scripts, developing communications plans for university outreach to partner on the upcoming Artemis II launch, and writing employee spotlights.

“You don’t usually associate communications with NASA. Everything thinks, ‘oh, engineers, scientists, telescopes,’ things like that,” Chang said. “So to get the internship with my background in media production and communications was so exciting. There’s a chance for me to work in this field I’ve always admired, after all.”

Like his interest in the great mysteries of the galaxies, Chang’s interest in media production started in his youth, filming and editing videos of himself and his friends as they rode their BMX bikes. At Mason, Chang further developed his skills through a concentration in media production and criticism and working on podcasts for WGMU.

At his internship, Chang was encouraged to utilize those skills through media production projects: He scripted, produced, and recorded voice-overs for a series of short videos that will be embedded on NASA’s website. “I’m working my way up to be the voice of the countdown,” he joked.  

“My communication degree has helped a lot in navigating this internship,” he said. “In this program I do a lot of communicating, and I’m seeing the theories I learned play out in the workplace. I’ve taken writing classes where I learned how to write across media, which helps when writing pieces for NASA that need to be concise yet persuasive. All the media production courses I’ve taken led to me creating and doing voiceovers the NASA videos. My professors gave me a really solid foundation.”

Ricky Chang sits in NASA control room
Ricky Chang, left, sits in the control room at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo provided by NASA.

This internship is the first foot in the door for Chang, who is seizing every opportunity he can to secure a future career at NASA. “I tried to meet with every multimedia person I could, so that if one day I apply for a full-time position they’ll remember me,” he said.

It seems his work has paid off. While Chang’s time at Mason concludes with the completion of this internship, his time at NASA is just beginning: He’s accepted another internship for the fall, where he’ll be working directly with NASA engineers in the Engineering and Technology Directorate (ETD).

“I want to work somewhere that lets me feel creative and supports my multimedia background, where I can really contribute and make an impact,” he said. “NASA gives me those opportunities and so much more.”