Choosing a business minor helps aviation student’s career take flight

Contact: Stacey Anderson
Shaun Orlikowski

Shaun Orlikowski says he has had many valuable experiences that have prepared him for his career, including a role as a crew scheduling intern at Frontier Airlines.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—“I’ve had a passion for aviation ever since I first flew on an airplane,” says Shaun Orlikowski, a Western Michigan University student from Minneapolis, Minnesota. “At the time, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to take, but I knew immediately that I desired a career in the aviation industry.”

As Orlikowski flew through high school, he developed a skill set in analytical thinking and problem solving in different contexts. Upon enrolling at Western, he selected aviation management and operations as his major since he could combine his love of aviation with his knack for strategic thinking.

“I decided that adding a minor in general business would be an excellent way to gain exposure to how common business concepts applied to an aviation setting,” he says.

Fast forward four years, and Orlikowski is getting ready to graduate in fall 2024 and says he has had many valuable experiences that have prepared him for his career, including a role as a crew scheduling intern at Frontier Airlines.

“Each day of the internship brought a different challenge and helped me grow not only professionally, but also personally,” says Orlikowski. “I became very good at understanding how to handle complex situations and multitask. I also learned a lot about the short- and long-term effects of different decisions on the business.”  

As Orlikowski has taken off in his academic journey, he has seen how his aviation and business classes provide relevant experiences.

“I look back at some of the aviation classes I took before the internship, and during my intern experience, I was able to apply the material in real-world applications, and it was exciting to make those connections. My business courses helped me understand how operational decisions impact so many other areas of the business, which was something I observed during my time at Frontier Airlines.”

As an intern, Orlikowski says he had the opportunity to fly to some incredible places.

“We traveled nearly every weekend and flew over 22,000 miles in about two months,” he says. “I had the opportunity to visit several destinations including San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City, to name a few. It was an amazing experience to see these destinations but also to see the operations from the perspective of our crew members, which helped me tremendously in the tasks I completed in my work.”

Deciding to minor in business helped Orlikowski solidify skills that complement his major.

“Although aviation is my calling, I am extremely glad I decided to pursue a business minor. I have always been fascinated with explanations of how and why things unfold the way they do. The business minor has taught me the advanced critical thinking and communication skills required to understand organizational dynamics and view things from an analytical point of view. I was able to pull from my business minor and apply concepts throughout my internship, which allowed me to engage in my role at a much higher level than if I hadn’t taken these classes.”

For fellow Western students pursuing aviation or other industries, Orlikowski gives this advice, “I encourage students in all majors to explore different career paths. Nearly every industry has information technology, marketing, accounting and supply chain departments that are all essential to running a successful business. I have found many benefits in pairing a business minor with my major in aviation management and operations. Being well versed in business has allowed me to gain a competitive advantage that will set me apart in the job search as I develop a strong career path.”

Learn more about minors in business

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