Who’s the Bos – in the world of Aviation it will soon be Joseph!

WMU Aviation Management and Operations Student Joseph Bos
Posted by Tom Thinnes on

Joseph Bos and his "assigned truck" during his internship at Denver International Airport

"What you know" enhances any resume and "Who you know" can also be a positive factor in a job search.  Joseph Bos has tapped into both. 

A junior at the WMU College of Aviation majoring in aviation management and operations, Bos is currently interning at Denver International Airport. with the Airside Operations Group entity based there.  The graduate of Calvin Christian High School in Grand Rapids is on track to receive his Bronco degree in the spring of 2025. 

Request College of Aviation Information

The "What you know" chapter of the story begins with Bos joining the campus chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) almost as soon as he arrived at WMU, and then observing the insights of faculty specialist Jessica Birnbaum who brings to her classes career experiences at several major airports. 

The Bos family during a vacation to Durango, Colorado

To prep for his sophomore year at the college and build his skills, Bos worked as a line service technician at West Michigan Regional Airport in Holland southwest of his home community.  He became acquainted with "the basics of general and corporate aviation," he says, and "learned about a wide range of aircraft servicing, from a Cessna 172 up to a Gulfstream G600."  The spectrum of activities included marshalling aircraft, towing them with tugs, fueling and "yes, even draining lavs." 

Once back on the college's Battle Creek campus, Bos was on the dispatch team where he learned the nitty-gritty of how a flight school functions -- getting to know fellow students and how to track their airtime hours, logging each aircraft's flight time, and when to plan aircraft maintenance.  Next stop was another stint with an airport's fixed-base operator -- Duncan Aviation's enterprise at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport and the opportunity to work around "bigger aircraft." 

Bos was on the first "ramp agent team" serving Avelo Airlines when the new low-cost carrier based in Houston, Texas, began its non-stop flights from Kalamazoo to Orlando in Florida.  "Being able to work around Boeing 737s twice a week was super fun," he says.  Complementing that experience and padding his wallet was "the occasional overtime I was able to pick up at Duncan's immense Battle Creek facility" that services "awesome corporate aircraft like Gulfstreams, Falcons, Challengers, Citations and Globals." 

British Airways departing to London during a sunset

Now comes the "Who you know" angle, which began taking shape in November of 2022 when fate scripted a layover for him at the Denver airport.    Through his AAAE connections, he arranged for a tour of the "largest commercial airport by land mass in the United States, from the taxiways to the rubber- and snow-removal equipment, the tunnels, and all of the behind-the-scenes stuff."  Bos was even "lucky enough to step on to the nation's longest commercial runway" -- Denver's 16,000 footer.  Making all of that possible was AAAE mentor Heather Ellis, Marcus Doyle (his current supervisor as assistant airport manager) and Tim Zeck, who is now working at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. 

Before departing, Bos asked whether any summer internships were available, there were, and he was asked to apply, which he did.   Guess who is one of Denver's managers of airport operations -- Matt Neyens, a 2015 alumnus of the WMU College of Aviation. 

Bos sitting in the flight deck of an A320 - the Colorado Avalanche Hockey charter

Denver has been a resume-building time for Bos.  He's taken part in daily inspections of runways, taxiways, ramps and construction sites -- even qualifying to do that as a solo.  He's been part of responses to bird strikes and aircraft emergencies, in closing down sections of pavement for a variety of reasons, and using airport equipment to test whether runways have built up unsafe levels of rubber because of the landings of huge aircraft. 

"I have learned so much about airport operations," he says, "but specifically what the Airside Operations Group does.  I have been taken in as if I was one of their own.  I feel like a full-time employee, not an intern.  They have shared their knowledge, information and advice with me.  I will finish my internship at the end of this year."  It will be capped off by a hands-on lesson in how the Denver airport contends with its snowfall season.  

His affinity for aviation was seeded as a child on flights to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins around the country during the Christmas holidays and summer vacations.  His excitement in being at an airport and in an airplane environment took off from there.  None of that has changed, as epitomized by family vacations in British Columbia, New Mexico, Seattle and several other destinations. 

Sunrise at Denver International Airport

"The best thing about my job has been coming to work and not knowing what to expect," says Bos, who is not the first WMU student to make that comment about their aviation experiences. "Every day is a different day.  Some can be more relaxed with only a few taxiway closures.  On another, there can be three aircraft emergencies during a shift with one of them causing a stoppage for multiple hours." 

Now secretary of the AAAE chapter at WMU, he strongly endorses the bonds that are created by such relationships "because we are all in the same boat looking for connections to further our future careers."  It's a key part of the "Who you know" formula. 

According to Bos, the "What you know" comes from the dedication of instructors such as Birnbaum.  "She is a great professor," he says, "but also she is a person to get to know and to listen to for career advice since she has worked in operations at a few airports." 

Bos and Matt Neyens mountain biking


But Bos says Birnbaum isn't flying solo in this role.  "The College of Aviation professors all have great industry experience and that's where I think it's so unique.  They give back by pouring all their knowledge into us, which in turn directs us toward some awesome internships and career paths.  That's what puts WMU on the map for being known as an elite aviation school." 

Even though he is "only a student," Bos is trying to follow in their mentoring footsteps.  "This past summer I volunteered to show the Denver airport to middle and high schoolers as part of a panel of interns.  I talked to them about what interns do, gave them some career advice, and outlined how and what they should do to excel in the careers they choose." 

Being an avid biker, hiker and skier, Bos has been in Valhalla during his Colorado internship.  "It's been awesome being able to mountain bike out here because the trails are so beautiful.  And, once you ski out here, skiing in Michigan isn't quite the same." 

A few short years from now, once Bos has launched his own career in making certain an international airport functions safely and on time, he will be one of those "Who you know" folks.