A.J. Hartnett, a computer engineering student at Purdue University, spent part of his summer in Mission Control.
During the last Space Shuttle Atlantis mission, Hartnett worked in Mission Control helping the trajectory analysis and flight dynamics officers.
So, did he ever say, "Wow, I'm at NASA?"
"Just about every day," Hartnett said. "It doesn't always click with me, but when it does, it's an amazing feeling."
Anne Roemer, manager of the co-op education program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said that she gets 800 to 1,000 resumes each year for just 50 spots. The program runs 2½ years, and participants rotate through various NASA departments.
"It's probably one of the best ways to get your foot in the door," Roemer said.
The college students are paid $14 to $17 an hour, and many also get class credit. Last year, 41 of the 54 program graduates were offered full-time jobs with NASA.
This summer, Rusty Chute drives a 1,200-horsepower jet boat filled with tourists. "My name is Rusty and I'll be your captain," says the 27-year-old schoolteacher.
Chute works for the Original Dells Experience Jet Boat Tours in Wisconsin and runs four to five tours a day. He earns $28 a trip, plus tips.
"As a captain, you're in control, and people are a little more willing to listen to you," Chute said. "In other [tourist jobs] — at a water park or work in a restaurant — people kind of just walk all over you."
The boat company still looks to fill one more spot through a posting on Monster.com.
"You're out here doing what most people come up here to do on vacation, and you're being paid for it," Chute said. "It's a pretty sweet deal."