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Young Professionals Offer Tips for Navigating Career Slumps

For various reasons, business aviation career paths often hit a slow patch, putting young professionals in a frustrating sort of job limbo.

Gulfstream G280 pilot Robbie Moon remembers hitting his slump about a decade into his business aviation career. “I worked 10 years at a company that simply didn’t have any upgrades,” Moon recalls. His advice for young professionals in similar situations: “First, show up both physically and mentally to bring your best game to the job you have now,” Moon says. “Read those technical manuals no one else does. It will put you head and shoulders above your peers. Don’t base your career plans on today’s aviation industry. The music can stop pretty rapidly.”

“When you’re offered an opportunity, whether you’re familiar with the subject or not, just take it and run to challenge yourself.”

Megan Knox, Operations Manager, M&N Aviation

“Always say yes,” says Megan Knox – operations manager for M&N Aviation in Denver.

“When you’re offered an opportunity, whether you’re familiar with the subject or not, just take it and run – to challenge yourself,” she said.
Knox also recommends volunteering. “It’s a great way to network,” she says. “Local volunteering shows your current bosses what you’re capable of. Search your own company for career advancement possibilities. If your company can’t cover the costs for professional development, look for scholarship money.”

Ex-flight attendant Brandi Drain – now director of inflight services for Clay Lacy Aviation at California’s Van Nuys Airport (VNY) – suggests self-reflection. “Take a close look at the things you do well and continuously work toward getting better,” Drain says. “It’s really important to find a mentor who sees potential in you that you might have missed.”

Some might consider starting a business. Joe Peebles, owner-operator of Atlanta repair shop JP AeroTechnics, quickly learned the skills for running a business were very different from those of a technician. “People told me I was crazy to give up the security of a regular paycheck. I learned a lot from the mistakes I made in my prior businesses,” Peebles says. “The truth is that work is hard. But I think life is hard whether you work for yourself or someone else. Make the decision that makes you happy. But remember to balance your work with your family life. I forgot that early on.” He now employs six.

“Don’t be afraid to leave your current job for a career challenge, or to go outside your comfort zone,” says Jay Gallagher, managing director at Aviation Search Group.

Overall, Moon says, it comes down to you. “Remember, you can’t control all the outcomes. All you can control is your daily behavior.”

Learn more about Young Professionals in Business Aviation (YoPros) at nbaa.org/yopro.

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