Current Job Title:
Describe your current job:
I am a First Officer (sometimes known as the 'co-pilot') on the Cessna Citation Excel for LJ Aviation, an aircraft management and charter company based in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The Citation Excel is a midsize business jet that can carry up to nine passengers, cruise as high as 45,000 feet, and reach distances just shy of 2,000 miles non-stop. I have been fortunate enough to fly a number of private individuals as well as major corporations and their employees to small towns and large cities all over the United States, whether it be in the early dawn hours, the middle of the afternoon, or late in the evening. Our destinations are always changing as well, giving me the opportunity to experience more places and meet more people than I would have ever been able to in any other kind of pilot position for someone with my similar amount of experience.
What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is that by doing what I love (flying a sophisticated machine at incredible speeds just below the stratosphere over long distances). I can have such a noticeable impact on an individual's life by taking them where they needed to be, for any number of reasons, safely as well as quicker and more efficiently than any other mode of transportation in use today. The most challenging part of the job comes from the nature of the kind of flying it is alone, and that is our schedule as pilots. Unlike airlines who have set schedules ahead of time, ours are always changing to meet the needs of our clients. At times, I need to answer a phone call at home, drive to the airport, prepare our airplane for flight, and be in the air in under two hours’ time. It is definitely a challenge, but a rewarding one when you complete the trip and the client is thrilled.
What activities, resources, or people helped you prepare for your career?
As far as any activities that helped prepare me for my career, I was fortunate enough to begin working for United Ground Express at Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport when United Airlines resumed regional service back into the airport in December of 2015. I was one of those people you see at airports running around with shiny yellow vests loading bags into airplanes, waving the light up wands as they pulled into and out of the gate, and even spraying the airplanes down with the hot de-icing fluid on snowy, icy, and freezing cold Kalamazoo mornings. This job taught me a ton about the airline industry as a whole and gave me a brief inside look into how things are really done at one of the world's largest airlines, a backseat view that most of the general public never sees. As far as people who helped prepare me for my career, it comes down to the people I surrounded myself with. My parents, siblings, and close friends pushed me through the most challenging parts of the path I took to get where I am. I truly believe that without their constant guidance, advice, and never wavering support, I would not be where I am today. Surround yourself with people that not only want to succeed themselves, but want to see you succeed just as badly.
What advice do you have for students looking for their career after college?
My biggest piece of advice for others that are in the process of pursuing a career similar mine would be to take your time and seriously enjoy the process. While the industry is at an all-time high as far as hiring, salaries, and all that is concerned, there is no need from the first day of freshman year to fixate on that first flying job and how you will get it. I am one of those people who really believes that if I can do it, anyone can do it. So take it from me: as long as you continue to work towards good grades, study like crazy for classes as hard as you will for checkrides and vice versa, make all the professional and personal connections as you can (which naturally come in time), and stay focused on the end goal, you will end up where you want to be. I have no doubt about it. The problem is, if you spend every waking moment of your college career fixating on that goal and how to get there (which I was plenty guilty of), you will miss out on so many other opportunities whether they be social or personal. Take advantage of all the time you possibly can away from school work, away from flying, away from the books to make memories, take road trips to the lake, anything. You're on the right path already and you're going to spend the rest of your adult life in your chosen career. You may never have the opportunities again like you have in college to have such a separation in your life, so take advantage of it. Stay out of trouble, of course. That should go without being said.