Many students think that a career in aviation is unattainable, or they are simply unaware of the many kinds of jobs in aviation, including the many opportunities in business aviation that extend beyond being a pilot or maintenance technician.
Sandi Ohman, assistant director of career services at the Daytona, FL, campus of Embry-Riddle University, meets regularly with students who – even at an aviation university – don’t know about the many non-flying positions that require other skills, such as business or marketing.
“Aviation insurance is a good example,” said Ohman. “There’s a lot of opportunity in insurance, but it’s not a career area that gets a lot of attention.”
Ohman encourages business aviation professionals to start reaching out to students in middle schools and high schools about the many careers in aviation, so that they understand that their math or communications abilities, for example, may be useful for either flying or non-flying positions in business aviation.
“We’ve provided some great ideas and information that any member or group can use. We’ve made it easy to start reaching out to students everywhere.”
Steve Hadley Senior Director of Regional Programs, NBAA
Kyle Eiserer, vice chair of NBAA’s Local & Regional Group Committee and a board member of the Central Florida Business Aviation Association (CFBAA), suggested that regional business aviation groups may be more effective in their student outreach by being strategic in their efforts, like choosing to focus just on high school or college students. He said that CFBAA has successfully hosted some Zoom events as a way of introducing young people to business aviation.
Eiserer encourages regional groups to utilize their young professional members (YoPros) for student outreach, since students usually relate better to professionals closer to their own age.
In addition to mentorships and internships, which members of many regional groups have already adopted, groups might consider having students shadow group members at their jobs for a day or two. Jason Bonham, airport and operations manager for Eastern Kentucky University at Central Kentucky Regional Airport in Richmond, said that students can sometimes shadow two jobs in one day. Bonham encourages students to ask a lot of questions, and he notes the importance of keeping them engaged.
Steve Hadley, NBAA senior director of regional programs, encourages regional groups to make use of NBAA’s fact sheet “Business Aviation Career Engagement.” Produced by NBAA’s Local & Regional Group Committee, the resource offers tips on how to best engage with students.
“We’ve provided some great ideas and information that any member or group can use,” said Hadley. “We’ve made it easy to start reaching out to students anywhere.”
MBAA Gearing Up for Post-Pandemic Events
Russ Arena is proud of the way the Massachusetts Business Aviation Association (MBAA) has been able to keep its focus on scholarships and community service during the pandemic. Arena, the executive director of the venerable New England group, noted that MBAA continued its scholarship disbursements in 2020 and even instituted a charitable giving program that may become an annual event.
“We want to walk the talk and give back,” said Arena.
Post COVID-19, MBAA wants to hit the ground running and is already planning for an Aviation Day at Hanscom Field (BED) this summer. The association, which usually holds its meetings at BED, has held such events in the past, replete with aircraft static displays and booths.
MBAA members also give tours of the airport to state legislators and discuss the importance of business aviation. According to Arena, MBAA communicates with elected officials year-round and has a good relationship with the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport).
MBAA is also planning to hold its primary fundraising event (a golf outing) in September and hopes to soon start bringing back its popular networking events at BED, which include picnic tables and food trucks and which provide a great informal setting for members to congregate.