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How to get a job in AMSAT

"How to get a job with AMSAT!"

AMSAT is in the hiring mode.  And YOU heard it here first, there are no job
interviews, just a very standard and totally secret process on getting a job
with AMSAT.  It would not be fair to tell anyone how to get a job at AMSAT,
so I wont tell you how to get a job at AMSAT, I will just share with you how
I got two of the jobs I have had at AMSAT.

Surprised?  AMSAT hires everyone who finds a need and fills that need.  Yes,
just like the business magazines about entrepreneurship will tell you, FIND
A NEED AND FILL IT, you too can become a successful zillionaire in AMSAT.
Public acclaim, rapt attention from audiences, pictures in the AMSAT
Journal, added to the workers mail reflector, and your peers will think you
have learned to walk on water.

Have you ever seen a job advertisement for AMSAT?  If you think you have
seen an AMSAT want ad what you have probably seen is one of the
advertisements by those guys who used to use the AMSAT copyrighted name from
time to time.  As far as I know AMSAT has never had a personnel department
and they certainly have no budget for new hires, but you can most certainly
get a job with AMSAT.

Find a need and fill it.  Ask for a job and you might be given something to
do.  Find a need and fill it and you will have a job for life.  If you have
heard this before, it is the same story for success in corporate life - find
a need and fill it.

Here is how I got my first job in AMSAT.  OSCARVI was launched in the early
1970's and it was obvious after the first week there was a problem with the
little satellite.  The satellite responded well enough to the command
stations of the day but it also went ON and OFF when ever it felt like going
ON and OFF.  It was obvious that OSCAR VI was not going to last long, it was
dying slowly, and the battery never had a chance to get charged up.

I wrote a letter to AMSAT telling them that I could see the satellite over
the polar area for up to 8 or 9 out of the 12 or so orbits a day.  I asked
AMSAT if they would like some help in keeping OSCAR VI operating in the mode
that AMSAT wanted the satellite to be in?  I proposed a way to solve a very
obvious AMSAT need.

I had found an AMSAT need, AMSAT gave me the opportunity to fill that need.
A crash program went on to get on the right frequency and send the ON and
OFF command signals at the appropriate times.  (There is a better write up
on these events in the AMSAT Archives)  For nearly 5 years some 3+ million
commands to OSCAR VI kept this little satellite going.

I had a job in AMSAT!  WOW!  No interviews, no forms in the personnel
department, no pay cheque either, but I had a job in AMSAT.  I got to pay my
own phone bill, electricity bill, buy my antennas, but by gosh I had a job

How do you get a job in AMSAT?  Got it?

While OSCAR VI was dying over the 5 years, I became aware that the battery
in OSCAR VI was really not very good.  I became interested in batteries.  I
thought about, tested hypotheses on batteries for nearly 10 years.  After
about 5 years of preliminary work I began asking each new satellite project
if they would let me have a job at building a battery a new and different
way.  Finally in desperation (the launch time was approaching and there was
no battery solution available anywhere else) so I was given some money to
buy some NiCd cells and to build the first space rated battery using
consumer grade NiCd cells.  I put a team together and we built a battery.
Did we build a battery or what!  Today, 2001, June 6, that battery in OSCAR
XI is still running! It charges and discharges many times per day, I
recently saw an orbit number for this satellite in excess of 70,000 orbits -
that is a lot of charge and discharge cycles - every day since 1984!  I had
found another job at AMSAT, find a need and fill that need.  You do not hear
anyone blaming the batteries for their satellites not working anymore.

That is how to get a job at AMSAT.

Well that is the good news, there are a few other details that are really
important about jobs at AMSAT.  First, AMSAT expects that for the vast
majority of the AMSAT work that the guy who does the job will be self
supporting financially.  This can be really painful.  I tried to avoid this,
expecting AMSAT to fund the work that I was doing for AMSAT and it caused
some trauma, in fact there is still a fence that I have yet to mend in this
area.  When you get your job in AMSAT make sure that just like you would
with any employer that each of you know who is responsible for doing what in
the provision of parts and materials.  25 years ago the parts availability
here in Canada was not good, I expected AMSAT to provide parts - this never
worked out properly and it was always a contentious issue.  Solving the
AMSAT problem once you have found it includes self-financing most of the

Take the use of your station for AMSAT activities.  To provide TELECOMMAND
services for OSCAR VI to AMSAT I had to use my main station - so I rarely
got to operate on OSCAR VI after that started as I had to keep the
transmitter on the command frequency.  Later when the MICROSAT's came along
I managed to get some AMSAT equipment for the work but it was like pulling
teeth and there was tension of the allocation of very scarce resources, just
like in any organization the resources are constrained and there is strong
competition for those resources.

For your job in AMSAT then you need to either put your hand in your own
pocket or you have to get good at finding a sponsor.  Working the radio club
speech and presentation circuit can be pretty good as well if you can
arrange for a donation every year or so.  This also means you have to do
some paperwork and other stuff but at the end of the day, AMSAT really likes
self-funded workers on their projects.

How not to find a job in AMSAT.  Pop up, unknown and propose to build your
own version of a Delta rocket and you wont get a job in AMSAT.  Start small,
solve an AMSAT problem, create some unique value, deliver something that
does something that needs to be done.  Every AMSAT worker team leader is
constantly watching for talent and skills, listen carefully, demonstrate
your skills in appropriate ways.  You can tell who your boss is by finding
out who sent Keith Baker a request for you to be added to a projects private
mailing list.

Quit doing things that AMSAT needs done and you will quickly be out of
AMSAT.  You can also marginalize yourself with an AMSAT boss who is not
going to deliver and you will be out of AMSAT.  Just like in the daily life
of a Corporate worker, build your relationship community and you will live
by your friends.  If you don't like what is going on, and everyone else is
happy, just go away quietly.  Like me several times, you can come back later
if the scene changes.

Got it?  Find a need and fill it and you to can have a happy and long career
in AMSAT.  I really wish I had seen this item when I started in AMSAT, I
hope you can find some value from the lessons I have learned..


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