On Thursday, March 30, Utah State University’s aviation technology program hosted an Aggie Aviation Career Conference in the Taggart Student Center to introduce participants to career opportunities in flying and maintaining aircraft. Professor Baron Andreas Wesemann said the event was more than a typical job fair.
“This fair’s an opportunity for students to come and not just be recruited by a company, but to actually talk about professionalism, career development and where they want to see themselves in five or ten years,” said Wesemann. “We have a lot of airlines that come visit us, but this year for the first time we had a corporate pilot, an Alaska bush pilot and a cargo pilot come—also, maintenance from one of the regional carriers. So we had an opportunity to see and hear from other professionals that we don’t normally have.”
Wesemann was pleased with how many of the corporate representatives who attended the conference were USU aviation technology graduates. He said bringing alumni back to the university gives students an opportunity to connect in a very important way.
“That’s why we call this a mentoring event,” he said, “because networking and mentoring are so vital in the aviation profession, especially when it comes to college students trying to find a job right after graduation.”
Kolby Widmier, one of the aviation technology program’s certified flight instructors, helped coordinate the conference. Widmier is also part of the USU flight team and currently serves as vice president of the university’s chapter of Alpha Eta Rho, an international college aviation fraternity. He appreciated how the event allowed students to interact with aviation professionals on a personal level.
“It’s an opportunity for students to come and talk to all these different companies and ask them about their careers without the other people trying to recruit them and say, ‘Hey, we need you, we need you,’” Widmier said. “It’s more of a, ‘Hey, this is what we do, this is how it’s done with us. What other questions can we answer to help you learn more about aviation?’”
Captain Jessica Hines is a 2006 USU Aviation Technology graduate who attended the conference representing <a href=”https://www.envoyair.com/”>Envoy Air, Inc.</a>, one of the event’s sponsors. Hines, who pilot’s Envoy’s Embraer 145 aircraft, visits USU at least twice per semester as a full-time recruiter.
“It’s also really important to do a mentorship for these students,” she said. “When I was coming up, I wish I could have done something like this. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be an airline pilot to an upcoming student, but we do the best we can to open their eyes to the possibilities and some of the things that they maybe didn’t think about. It’s a lot of fun chatting with them. And the questions they ask—you sit there and go, ‘Wow! I wish I would have thought about that when I was coming through. I just figured it out along the way.’ But now they know even before they get there, so they’ll be that much more prepared when they get to the airlines.”
Some suggestions Hines offers to aspiring pilots include getting good grades, having a clean driving record and staying out of trouble with the law. She also advises students to pay close attention to what they post on social media.
“This is an area where I’ve seen a lot of students struggle,” she said, “and, unfortunately, social media is permanent. Make sure you’re only posting things on social media that you want the whole world to see, including your potential future employers.”
Adding to Hines’ advice, Widmier said the most important advice he can give students involves professionalism.
“That is number one in this industry,” he said. “Be professional, act professional, dress professional. Go above and beyond with everything you do.”
Utah State University’s aviation technology program offers Bachelor of Science degrees in professional piloting and aircraft maintenance management. More information is available at <a href=”https://aste.usu.edu/aviation/”>www. aste.usu.edu/aviation</a>.