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NASA Capacity Building Program Intern, management of information systems student at San Jose State University

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 Kannan and her role on the intern team. 

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

It’s easily having the opportunity to grow with my team and mentors through this experience, as well as being able to see the final product with our combined efforts come to life. Whether it be Ella’s leadership skills, Monica’s diligence, Rachel’s attentiveness, or Barri’s enthusiasm, I never have to look far to find someone to admire and learn from. Being able to express my talents among such bright, hard-working people reminds me of how far I’ve come, and every day I look forward to combining my own skill set with theirs to produce the best work possible.

Shilpa Kannan
Shilpa Kannan. Credits: Shilpa Kannan

What are your hobbies?  

My biggest hobbies in my life have always surrounded music, from finding my voice through singing (or even just a fun night of karaoke with friends), to most especially: dancing! I love exploring a broad variety of styles, ranging anywhere from hip-hop to Bollywood and even ballet. I also collect keychains! The ones I buy (or am gifted) always symbolize a good memory I’ve had or an important person in my life. I have them all hung up on my bedroom wall in rows so that I can always gaze at them to bring back any memory of my choosing. That being said, it’s no surprise that my most recent addition is a NASA one!

What is a major challenge you’ve overcome?  

In terms of challenges I’ve had from working virtually, there are moments where I abruptly lose all audio and video connection in the middle of team meetings and presentations (and I’m sure many people have faced similar problems at least once during this time). Being pulled out of a discussion and put back in by the will of the internet gods is kind of like reading through a book that has pages missing, and it took me some time to find an appropriate way to fill in those gaps. However, I appreciate how this has allowed me to build new techniques to better counter these problems, such as focusing on audio indicators to figure out the right moment to speak and remaining patient when it does occur. 

High school graduation
High School Graduation with Friends and Current UC Davis Students, Rida Sayyid (left) and Sana Sayyid (right). Credits: Shilpa Kannan

What is a normal day as a NASA intern?  

Since I live on the west coast, my typical day as a NASA intern starts with me waking up an hour or two early—on top of the three hour time difference with Langley Research Center—to set up my workplace and prepare for my morning meetings. Our conversations range from planning out our capacity-building training program, applying research findings to better our discussions, and exchanging advice between the five of us. Afterwards, I attend online classes for my university, spend my evenings working on any assignments I have, and rehearse dance choreography at night. Even though my schedule can seem overwhelming at times, applying my skills towards educating youth on how to use remote sensing data to better the environment, while also being lucky enough to keep up with my hobbies, helps me appreciate and cherish every moment I spend working towards these goals. 

Where do you go from here?  

In the short term, I am hoping to reduce my workload this spring so that I can elevate the quality of work I produce within the activities I enjoy, whether it be relating to my internship, my musical interests, or exploring new hobbies. Although I have always prioritized academics, I would like to spend the first half of 2021 learning to appreciate and utilize the good aspects of being in a virtual environment while I still can.

My ultimate long-term goal is to support businesses who uphold and promote essential needs for the benefit of society, specifically by utilizing my skills in technology and creativity to aid in organizing, strategizing, and problem solving through any challenges they face. I intend to apply the knowledge I’ve gained through my Management of Information Systems major to assist businesses that either directly work for the common good (such as hospitals and non-profits) or hold strong values in supporting charitable causes.

Woman at concert
Kannan attending a concert at Rose Bowl in LA. Credits: Shilpa Kannan

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