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I am in charge of media relations for the National Air and Space Museum and it is my job to get the great stories about our museum out to the public—so if you see the museum on TV, on the newspaper or on the web, it is most likely that the reporter talked to my office first. I have to provide information to journalists so they can write compelling stories about our new exhibits and get people excited to come visit the museum.
On any given day, I answer phone calls from reporters with specific questions about some of the objects in the museum’s collection, like the 1903 Wright Flyer or the Apollo 11 command module, and connect them with the experts who can best talk about them. Or if there is a news story about water on Mars or an important aviation anniversary, reporters will call the museum to get background information and quotes from our experts. When a new exhibit is coming up or a new artifact is being donated to the collection—like space shuttle Discovery a few weeks ago—it is my job to “alert the media” and make sure reporters have timely and accurate information so our visitors know what they will see and when.
I have a lot of fun and there's nothing as great as walking into the train in the morning and seeing a story about the museum on the front page of people's papers!
I have had many great moments at the Smithsonian—I’ve met men who walked on the Moon and got to witness a space shuttle fly over DC, land in Dulles airport and then be placed inside our museum just two days later! But I think the best moment was last summer when to celebrate Museum’s 35th anniversary we came up with a plan to get quotes from people about how much they love the Museum and what their favorite memories are.
We were able to get quotes from the NASA administrator, WW II pilots, Apollo astronauts, and movie stars who had been here for the opening of Night at the Museum. We were even able to get quotes from fictional characters like Marge Simpson: “I'm really happy to be contacted by the air and space museum because we had such a wonderful time there. Also because Bart took a piece of the Spirit of St. Louis that we've been meaning to give back, but were just too embarrassed.” and Elmo! “Elmo had so much fun pretending to be an astronaut at the National Air and Space Museum. Next time, Elmo will walk on the moon!” But my favorites were some of the visitors’ quotes, like a woman who remembered her first date with her now husband was to see the Star Wars exhibit at the museum and now brings her children to visit!
Study something that you love and are passionate about, that way schoolwork and—later on—your job, will be fun and you won’t mind working long hours because you will be doing something you really like.