June 28, 2021

Establishing connections and mentors within business aviation before graduation will provide collegiate aviators an invaluable appreciation of the industry and create a foundation for a rewarding and fulfilling career, advised Doug Carr, NBAA senior vice president, safety, security, sustainability and international affairs, during a recent National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) webinar.

“Networking is key to both finding opportunities and to understanding what opportunities are best for you,” Carr said during NIFA’s Summer Speaker Series webinar. “Start networking today. Don’t wait until you have that diploma on your wall before you start talking with people.”

Fortunately, collegiate aviators have access to many local and national resources to guide them through the networking process, including NBAA’s Young Professionals (YoPros) Council. “The purpose of NBAA’s YoPros is to bring young people together to talk about their experiences in business aviation. YoPros introduces you to peers from across the industry and allows you to gain valuable and relevant insight from people who have already established careers in business aviation,” Carr noted.

Careers in business aviation encompass more than flying, and collegiate aviators should consider the broader corporate culture of a company when considering a position within a flight department, Carr advised.
“It is expected that you will be a great pilot,” said Carr. “Employers are also looking for an employee who is compatible with their company culture because they likely will ask you to do things far beyond just flying the aircraft.

“You will go to places that you will read about in The Wall Street Journal 12 hours later,” Carr added. “These companies want to know you are trustworthy and that you can protect company assets and company information that are critical to the long-term success of the organization.”

Military service can equip aviators for a successful career in business aviation, said Navy veteran Carr.

“The skills that I learned in the military could not have been better or more transferable to where I wanted to go with my passion, which was aviation,” he noted. “The leadership development and skills that you get from the military are second to none, and there is a real tangible benefit that comes from any level of military service. If the military is a passion for you, I would highly encourage you to pursue that.”

Careers in aviation can be fulfilling and rewarding, but the pandemic illustrated the need to develop transferable skills that accommodate shifts in the economy, noted Carr. “I encourage everyone to explore a ‘Plan B.’ By adopting skills beyond operating and maintaining an aircraft, you create a redundancy and resiliency in your capabilities and diversify your strategy to ensure your own success.”