Nov. 26, 2018
Passengers demand the same level of service they receive on the ground, and for many companies, inflight connectivity has gone from optional to mandatory.
Air traffic controllers must establish radar contact with aircraft in order to positively identify and track their positions.
Similarly, choosing a career that best suits us individually requires pinpointing professional opportunities and adding them to our radar by taking a close, “insider” look at them.
Many students find themselves unexpectedly undergoing a process of discovery during an internship.
Options that they had not previously considered are presented during the course of the internship, evoking a strange sense of childlike wonder. Career paths and employment opportunities that they previously knew nothing about begin to emerge.
Participating in an internship program is one of the most effective ways of parsing where each responsibility lands within an organization. As job descriptions “come alive,” interns are able to run litmus tests, imagining themselves in any role within the organization in order to determine their personal best fit.
For example, Dan Waters recently had the opportunity to imagine himself in a number of positions as a summer intern with NBAA’s Air Traffic Services, a team of association staff members based at the FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Warrenton, VA. He holds a degree in aviation administration and air traffic control management and is also an instrument-rated private pilot.
“Being exposed to the different positions within the Command Center was eye opening, but in particular, the ‘severe weather’ position was really interesting to me,” Waters said. “They deal with enroute [air traffic] issues in the National Airspace System. When [airport] departure gates or arrival procedures are shut off because of weather, they find the most efficient route [for airplanes to reach their destinations].”
While Waters knew that his career aim was to work in air traffic control, he was grateful for the opportunity to discover an entirely new career option – the severe weather position – during his internship Emily Tobler, a senior at Missouri’s Saint Louis University, appreciated the more intimate look at business aviation careers she gained through her internship with NBAA. “My time in a Part 141 flight school had me inching closer to a career in the airlines, so I am incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to spend my summer working on the business aviation side,” she said.
“Entire organizations and interesting projects are in motion that you have yet to discover, and interning is one of the most effective ways to uncover them.”
Tobler’s position supporting NBAA’s Operations Service Group had her communicating directly with industry professionals all over the globe. Additionally, she had the opportunity to see the National Transportation Safety Board Training Center in Ashburn, VA, a dream of hers. “This was one of the highlights of my time with NBAA,” she said. “I learned a great deal more about the NTSB’s functions and saw the TWA 800 crash wreckage up-close. What a humbling sight for anyone thinking of entering the aviation industry!”
My own experience interning in the NBAA membership department likewise gave me new experiences and career ambitions. For example, during one project, when I mailed annual Flying Safety Awards to flight departments in recognition of their
outstanding safety records, I was surprised to learn about many well-known brands that have entire flight departments, including a Seattle-based company whose corporate philosophy I have long admired. The company is steadfast in its commitment to employee growth and cultivating human connection, which are values that genuinely embody what I stand for, so when I realized that it has a flight department, my new career goal came to me instantaneously.
Someday, I want to fly for that company, or an organization like it, and that is now a goal I intend to pursue. That is my calling, but I may never have even known this to be a possibility had I not applied for my internship with NBAA.
Just as an air traffic controller reaches out to aircraft to identify their positions, students are most likely to identify specified career paths when reaching out through an internship. Entire organizations and interesting projects are in motion that you have yet to discover, and interning is one of the most effective ways to find and track them.
What aviation career possibilities can you add to your radar?
Larae Stotts is pursuing her aviation management degree at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT.