A career in aviation is underrated. I don’t think I have ever heard someone say “I want to be a Project Manager for Airbus” or “I want to design aircraft chairs for Recaro” or “I want to assemble simulators for Flight Safety”. When most people think of a career in aviation they think; Pilot, Cabin Crew and on rare occasions, Air Traffic Controller.
Re-read the three examples I gave at the start of this article and ask yourself, did you ever want to be one of those? Did you even think such roles exist in the industry? Depending on if you, the reader, are familiar with aviation, you will know that there are a plethora of roles one can choose from in aviation, however the media or should I say “pop culture” narrows aviation down to the roles that I mentioned above, maybe because they are sexy? And well, sex sells.
I think I have loved airplanes/aviation for as far back as I can remember. One of my eldest memories (which is more of a story that my grandmother told me), is of when I went on a school trip to (guess where), the airport. I think at the time I was either 2 or 3 years old. Apparently, part of the school trip was to board an airplane, and as I was going up the stairs, I started to cry and flat out had a meltdown. Not sure where that came from, but I believe I was the only child who did not go into the aircraft. Fast forward a couple of decades and all I can think of is airplanes. My career in this industry that I love actually started with me wanting to be a pilot – shocker! However, since we live in a world of dream killers that idea was quickly shut down. You’re too tall, there isn’t enough space for you, etc…etc.. I am 6”7 (2.02 for my European readers).
I must have been in my 20’s or so while clearing security at the airport, I ran into a pilot who must have been either the same height as me or taller. I asked him, how, why, when? And he said, don’t listen to anyone and just follow your dreams. As cliche as that sounds, that truly is the reality of everything. We live one life and we need to make the most of it. I’d love to say that after that heart to heart encounter with the pilot, I signed up to flight school. Nope, I went from one corporate job to another, till one magical day I was let go from one of those jobs.
I found myself unhappy and always said to myself that, if you are going to spend this many hours at a job, you don’t necessarily have to love it, but at least like it. So then it started, the aviation journey. Rejection letter after rejection letter, I almost gave up, until I received one email invitation for an interview to become Cabin Crew.
My first thought was; nope, not for me and then common sense (or at least my version of it) kicked in and reminded me about how this could potentially be a foot through the door. Two rounds of interviews down, four weeks of training and it all started. Job 1 in aviation. Man oh man, did I travel and wowza did I enjoy the first couple of years. I’m not going to lie, the Cabin Crew job sometimes is pictured as being “easy”. If you aren’t disciplined with your health while you’re out on the road for up to 5 days, it can quickly take a toll on your body. I was a Cabin Crew for 4 years, and I was extremely grateful for the opportunity. I saw the world, met thousands of people, saved someone’s life and also got to pour coffee at almost 900km/h.
I then moved away from my first airline job to another airline job, supervising Cabin Crews at the airport. Is it me or is there something truly exciting about airports? I had a saying with my colleagues while working there; never a dull moment! There was always something happening, always a lot of activity and in my honest opinion, it was always fun!
From supervising Cabin Crews at the airport, I then moved on to working on configuring software for crew at one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world. Honestly, sometimes I look back and I wonder; how the heck did that happen? In a span of five years I went from being a Cabin Crew, to supervising Cabin Crew to then working in software for Cabin Crew and Flight Crew. Crazy times.
After almost two years, I somehow found myself back at an airline again, this time helping with crew management software. See the connection?
There’s clearly a software theme here, because now (present day) I am still working in software, however this is software not only for crew, but for the end-to-end operations of an airline.
This is the path my career took, which started with me taking a risk and simply “trying something out”. Again, as I stated from the start of this text, aviation is a lot more than Flight and Cabin Crew, there are so many different roles within the industry and the perks are endless. I still dream about being a pilot and maybe one day I will take some lessons.
My advice, if you’re curious – you have nothing to lose – simply, try it, but I warn you – the industry is addictive and in some cases contagious and I will forever love it.