Mack Means, a senior in the Aerospace Studies program at the Daytona Beach campus, recently completed an internship in the Marketing Planning department at Southwest Airlines. During his internship, Mack was able to apply everything he learned in the classroom, while gaining experience and additional knowledge and skills that will help this A student to be even more successful now that he is back on campus. As a bonus, Mack had the opportunity to travel to some pretty exciting places, work with a lot of fun-LUVing people, and grow, both personally and professionally.
Southwest Airlines internships are pretty competitive. What things helped you to stand out and land the position?
I think the biggest qualities that stood out to Southwest were my leadership experience, knowledge of the aviation industry, and my positive, outgoing attitude. Many of the interview questions involved my experiences as a leader and working through difficult situations. They asked about my time with the Orientation Team and my involvements with my fraternity. Throughout the four months in Dallas, I never met an intern that lacked leadership experience.
During my internship, a vast knowledge of the aviation industry was crucial to being an asset on my team. While not all Southwest internships require a high level of aviation knowledge, it is important and impressive to understand the competitive landscape of the industry. Additionally, my outgoing, fun-LUVing attitude helped me secure the position. Southwest Airlines has a unique company culture and they hire based on those qualities. Be true to yourself, don’t get too nervous, and have fun! If you are having fun through the interview process, you will have even more fun as an intern.
What kind of work did you do as a Marketing Planning Intern?
As a Marketing Planning intern, I had the opportunity to work on many projects with multiple groups on my team. Some projects involved industry intelligence research, which allowed me to compare Southwest Airlines to the other airlines in the industry. I followed industry marketing and social media trends to get a better understanding of the industry and bring new ideas to Southwest. Another project involved research that I conducted with the help of a teammate that was used across the entire Southwest system. It’s very rewarding to see your hard work pay off and really make an impact at such a large company. Also, a few of my projects involved analyzing the performance of Southwest using many different measurements. Overall, I had a wide variety of projects, and no two days were the same.
What skills and knowledge did you gain as a result of your internship?
Thanks to my experience at Southwest, I have an even better understanding of the competitive landscape in the aviation industry. My opportunities allowed me to gain a broader knowledge of the inner-workings of such a large company. Not only was I exposed to the Marketing Planning department, but I also saw dozens of aspects of the company through Days-In-The-Field and free travel experiences. I spent time with the People, Network Planning, Revenue Management, Customer Relations, and Maintenance departments through career shadows. Additionally, I got to experience the operations side of the company thanks to my free flights and trips to Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Orlando, Austin, South Padre, and Vancouver (via Seattle). From travel experiences to in-depth knowledge to personal maturation, the amount gained from this experience is immeasurable.
Do you have any advice for students considering applying to Southwest Airlines?
Educate yourself on the company before you apply. Just by reading their website and understanding their company culture, you’ve already got a head start.
If you don’t get an internship right away, KEEP TRYING. Persistence is key. It took three failed attempts before I received a phone call from Southwest. Also, be flexible. Apply for multiple internships with a company and let them help you decide which one would be your best fit.
Smile. Be courteous and thankful to everyone you speak to or come in contact with. If you fly somewhere for an interview be patient and kind everywhere you go. You never know who else is on that plane or in the security line.
Get leadership experience. Join clubs and organizations and run for office. Having these experiences not only teach you how to manage your time, but they show your future employer that you can work with others and do great things.