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Development and Engagement Branch
Foundations of Influence, Relationships, Success, and Teamwork (NASA FIRST)

Welcome to NASA FIRST – the Agency’s leadership development program for GS-11 and 12 engineers, scientists and administrative professionals.  NASA FIRST is an important initial element of the Agency’s succession management strategy as it provides leadership training for some of the Agency’s most promising junior professionals.  FIRST focuses on developing leadership capabilities and intra-Agency collaboration by providing increased awareness of the NASA vision, mission, and goals. 

Basic Program Information

  • Agency-wide development program for GS 11-12 civil servants with at least 1 year of experience with NASA, term or permanent employees
  • 1 year part-time program, including 4 training modules, shadowing of senior leaders, group projects, and individual development
  • 40 participants max
  • Addresses the personal effectiveness, business acumen, and leading people dimensions of the NASA Leadership Model
    Leadership Model
    Assessments of leadership skills

Program Outcomes

Participants will:

  • Have an increased awareness of self, others, and the Agency
  • Have a broader understanding of what it means to work for NASA
  • Possess an increased understanding of what it means to be a fully functioning team member and leader
  • Have a greater understanding of personal influence skills and how to use those skills effectively for NASA
  • Be part of a cadre of future NASA leaders who will be inspired, motivated, and eager to play a vital role in the future of NASA

How to Apply

Selections for the NASA FIRST program are conducted at the center-level and submitted to the Agency Office of Human Capital Management each year.  For NASA Headquarters civil servants, please submit the following material to the NASA Headquarters Human Resources Management Division by the nomination deadline:

FIRST Application Materials

  • Cover page with Participant Agreement (Appendix A)
  • Resume (2 page maximum)
  • Personal Essay (~1500 words) that address the following questions.  Each question should be answered separately and the question text should be included above each answer.
    1. Provide a summary of significant special assignments, committees, working groups, or project teams on which you have served during the last three (3) years.  Describe your role, responsibilities, purpose of the project and the internal and external benefits.
    2. One definition of leadership is, “the ability to mobilize others to want to accomplish a common goal” (Kouzes and Posner).  With that definition in mind, please work with your supervisor to identify and describe a specific example of leadership challenge that you have in your current role. (This challenge should be ongoing as the participant will have opportunities to utilize learning to work through the challenge during the course of the program.)
    3. With the NASA FIRST program objectives and components in mind, please work with your supervisor to describe how the development offered in this program would help you accomplish the leadership challenge described in the previous question.
    4. How do you envision yourself contributing to NASA’s mission 2-3 years from now, and how will the FIRST program help you achieve that vision?
    5. What do you expect to be the most important outcome of your participation in this program?
    6. Describe your experience in working with a team.  Please explain how development in this program will impact your experience, understanding, and effectiveness with teams at NASA.
    7. Describe a time when you received feedback.  How did you respond to this feedback?  What, if any, challenges did you face in receiving this feedback?  How did you integrate this feedback?
  • Supervisor Endorsement (Appendix B)
    • Written statement from immediate supervisor stating support for participant and awareness of program requirements


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