This past Wednesday I was invited out to Dallas, Texas for an opportunity to interview with Southwest Airlines. Working for Southwest has been a dream of mine for many years; and the experience of interviewing with them is a high point in my professional career. Southwest has a very well-known and highly ranked internship program which I first applied to in fall 2010, while I was a freshman at Embry-Riddle. I soon learned that Southwest would only consider students with a junior credit standing for their internship program. This requirement guarantees they employ the highest quality interns; with enough time in their degree program to have an idea of career goals and interests. I did not let this discourage me, and instead used the time to build my skillset and revise my application so that I would be ready to reapply when I met all program requirements.
I spent my first 15 months of college (including the summer 2011) working on campus as Student Assistant to the Director of Aviation Safety. I learned alot about safety through this job, and in the two safety classes I have taken toward my minor. Near the end of September 2010 I reapplied for the Flight Operations: Safety Intern position (this time I met the credit requirement and I applied for spring instead summer, which is likely more competitive.) The application deadline was 10/3, and I heard nothing back for the entire month of October. I didn’t worry about this because I knew from last year that Southwest lets you know when you’ve been excluded from the list of candidates via email. At the start of the second week of November I was contacted by a Southwest recruiter who emailed to see if I was still interested in the position. I enthusiastically replied and sent a copy of my application packet. I was scheduled for the phone interview on 11/10, and it lasted about 25 minutes with a few very brief questions. As we were wrapping up our conversation my point of contact at Southwest invited me out for the interview the following Wednesday, 11/16.
The day of my flight I woke at 5:15 was delivered to the Orlando International Airport (MCO) at 8:00 by my generous roommate Matt in his big red truck. I arrived at the airport early with my emailed travel itinerary I had received a week prior from a scheduler at Southwest. On my flight out to Dallas I stopped in Houston, and I realized three other passengers I was flying with had the same origin and destination. There were a total of four students from Riddle, all with the same flight out to Southwest for interviews in different departments. We shared our notes and quizzed each other on the plane ride and while we waited for the Southwest employee shuttle to pick us up from Love Field in Dallas. After a short five minute ride to the Southwest Headquarters we were warmly ushered in by our respective hosts and assigned visitors passes. I made it through my brief check-in process minutes before my scheduled interview time of 1:30. Just enough time to grab a glass of water to spill as I sat down at the interview table (oops.) My interview went smoothly and I was very impressed with the cool atmosphere of the entire event. I have been to interviews for less serious positions before which had me more anxious just due to the vibe. The upbeat and easygoing style of Southwest staff made my interview very enjoyable, and they shared with me the many unique opportunities a Safety Intern would be exposed to at Southwest. Items including day tours of airport facilities, control tower tour, hangar operations, dispatch, tug driving (a 737?!), office meetings, and of course every ones favorite. Flight Benefits.
I exited my interview 45 minutes after I entered, as scheduled, although it seemed much shorter. The staff in the People Lobby at Southwest were incredibly warm and helpful as I completed a few exiting items. I boarded the shuttle with one of the three students I had arrived with. One left on the earlier shuttle, and the other was still interviewing. We all caught the same 4:30 flight back to MCO with a connection in Houston and an arrival in Orlando of 9:45. On our return flight my new friends and I met another Southwest Internship interviewee from UF (GO GATORS!). I got picked up from the airport around 10:30 by a friend of mine from class, and we stopped for a bite to eat on the way home putting us in Daytona Beach just after midnight. It was an incredible day that I won’t soon forget. Worth mentioning that each of my 4 legs yesterday were full flights, things are good over at Southwest.