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NASA Capacity Building program area intern, student at Bowdoin College 

Jessica Sheaves
Earth Applied Sciences Editor

The Capacity Building program area is excited to introduce our team of five interns who have been working with us since last fall and will continue this spring. They are working with the Program to build their technical and professional skill sets while bringing their enthusiasm and new ideas to the program. Each of our interns created their own feature profiles, which we will be sharing over the next few weeks. Keep reading to learn more about Haugen and her role on the intern team. 

What makes you tick? 

The opportunity to help people, in ways both big and small, is what gets me out of bed every morning. I’m passionate about cooperating with others for common ends. I love that at NASA I constantly get to see my teammates succeed and that the work we’re doing is making a difference. I believe that the most fulfilling way to live is to have a positive impact on the lives of others because that is how we better ourselves and the world.  

Ella Haugen
Haugen 's volleyball roster photo. Credits: Bowdoin College

What is a normal day as a NASA intern? 

I work full time, which has allowed me to participate in a wide range of events and meetings. I always start my day with a cup of coffee as I check my email and messages, but other than that my days vary. Sometimes I’ll have back-to-back meetings for most of the day supporting the Capacity Building program, NASA Earth Science Applied Sciences Program, Working Group on Capacity Building and Data Democracy, etc., and other days I’ll spend more time working with the intern team. I delegate tasks, coordinate schedules, lead team tag-ups, answer questions, organize materials that my team produces and serve as the primary point of contact for my team both internally and externally. I’ve gotten better at staying organized and juggling many different tasks and timelines simultaneously, and the variety keeps every day interesting. 

Rocco the dog
Haugen and her dog, Rocco. Credits: Charlotte Maerov

How did you get interested in the program? 

When I decided to take the fall 2020 semester off from school, I didn’t have a plan. I decided to apply for countless fall internships, and NASA has always been fascinating to me, so I added it to my list thinking nothing would come of it. When I heard back from Capacity Building and got an interview, the first thing I did was look at their website and read the mission statements of all the elements. I remember thinking it would be the perfect fit for me. I love that the program uses innovative approaches to help people and the environment by making Earth data accessible to all. I could see everything falling into place, and I wanted it so badly. I still approach every day at work like I approached that interview, with the mindset of proving that I deserve to be here and making the most of the opportunity. 

Haugen in Brunswick, Maine, where she goes to college. Credits: Pete Haugen

What’s your favorite part of the job so far? 

The people. I’ve never experienced a work environment more enthusiastic and inclusive, and I feel very lucky that I get to spend every day working with incredible people who are so passionate about what they do. Everyone on my team is bright and kind, and I’ve loved getting to know them and work with them. Our mentors care about our success as well as our wellbeing, and I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve also met so many cool people outside of our team, all of whom provided great insight and were welcoming and open-minded. 

What do your friends have to say? 

“When Ella told me she got an internship at NASA, I was surprised for about two seconds. And then I remembered all of her amazing qualities, interests and passions, and it made perfect sense. I’ve never seen her so fulfilled and it makes me smile to think that she gets to do something that makes her so happy.” 

“Ella is a dedicated, focused and persistent worker. She’s great at communicating with and listening to other people while always maintaining such a positive and caring energy.” 

“I have yet to find anything Ella cannot do, and her internship at NASA does not fall short of that fact. Her drive inspires everyone around her to be their best selves.” 

“Ella, a close friend who I would consider a hero of mine, is a genuine, out-of-this-world kind of person. So I guess it only makes sense that she is interning at NASA.” 

Ella and BFF
Haugen and her best friend Eva at a youth climate strike in 2019. Credits: Ella Haugen

What are your hobbies? 

I have played volleyball for most of my life, and that takes up a significant portion of my free time. Being an athlete has taught me so much, and most of my favorite memories involve volleyball. I also enjoy hiking, playing guitar and volunteering.  

What motivates you? 

It’s pretty cliché, but my curiosity is probably my biggest motivator. I’m also a very competitive person, so that combined with my desire to learn as much as possible always pushes me to do my best. Although I am very much internally motivated, making my parents proud is also a big motivator for me. They have done so much for me, they have sacrificed so much to help me succeed, and they always support me no matter what.  

Haugen's parents, Laura and Pete on a family camping trip. Credits: Charlotte Maerov

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