By Emily Regala
On May 6, 2020, CSUN PRSSA had the privilege of speaking with the
Internal Communications manager of NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space
Administration) , JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab), Jane Platt. Jane Platt is a CSUN alumna who
was willing to discuss her experience in Journalism and Communications Broadcasting
with us. Jane began her presentation by discussing the start of her journey in
communication. Jane came from humble beginnings where, as a child, she used to
“interview her brother and sister with empty paper towel rolls” and “would put together a
monthly family magazine”. While Platt was still attending CSUN, she started off as a
History major. After taking a few Journalism classes she fell in love with the subject and
changed majors to Journalism. After graduating from CSUN, Platt worked at various
radio broadcast stations. The pinnacle of her radio career was when she became the
west coast correspondent for the broadcasting network ABC. Platt covered infamous
news stories such as the 1992 Los Angeles riots, high profile trials, wildfires, and even
the red carpet at the Academy Awards.
Jane’s career in broadcasting eventually led her to a job opportunity with NASA.
Seven years after covering the Voyager’s flight over Neptune, Jane came across an ad
in the Los Angeles Times for a public information officer at JPL. Platt applied and was
the last person to be called for a job interview. Although she assumed that the job was a better fit for someone with a background in science, to her surprise she was offered the
position. Since this moment, Platt has had an active role in the public relations of NASA,
JPL, working on press releases, news conferences, and podcasts. She describes her
job as being like a translator for engineers and scientists. The engineers and scientists
at NASA, JPL may face difficulty explaining their studies in a way that a person without
a scientific background may understand. Jane helps translate their words into a speech
that people of all ages and educational backgrounds could comprehend, shifting the
vocabulary to around an 8th grade level.
Following her backstory, Jane provided us with some crucial tips and advice on
designing our career paths. One tip that grabbed our attention is to “be good at lots of
things; be the person that people turn to”. Employers often seek people who possess a
wide range of skills and talents. Another tip that Jane emphasized in her presentation, even when you do not get the job, it is important to still be a good sport and remain
professional. Always thank them for considering you through an email or note. As we
are currently in the midst of dramatic change, a piece of advice that Jane shared is to
“plan as much as possible but always remember to go with the flow”. This piece of
advice truly resonated with us, as we are still adjusting to life in quarantine. A final piece
of advice Jane offered is that, “you want to be the person that people [describe as] talented, hardworking, and a pleasure to work with”. This statement was a great closing to her presentation, summarizing the tips she provided us.
Overall, Jane’s story and advice truly resonated with us, reassuring that dramatic
changes could lead to incredible opportunities.