by Krystel Parra
As a student, the first conference I attended was Women in Aviation. Before the conference, I made sure that I had the right attire with me and was dressed appropriately. I wore what I would wear for a job interview, which ultimately gave me confidence. I had business cards with me just in case. When I arrived, I was shocked that there were so many people who loved aviation just like I do. Women in Aviation hosted seminars, receptions, banquets, and booths showcasing various aviation-related companies. Initially it was hard to decide where to go and when since everything was happening at the same time. I made a schedule of events by prioritizing which was of most importance to me; that way, I didn’t miss anything that was related to my career and passion.
Next I made my way along the booths and made sure I talked to every company. I introduced myself and told them what I was looking for: an internship or co-op in Aviation Safety. Normally, they would direct me to the right person and give me their business cards. I would then proceed to give them my business card just so they would remember me and put a face with my qualifications. After I left their booth, I wrote a short description of what we talked about on the back of the business card. I was able to email everyone and remind them who I was, what we talked about and thanked them for their time. I also asked if there were any positions available and to please let me know. Besides good etiquette, emailing potential employers allowed them to remember me after the conference was over.
Additionally, during the conference we had many dining events where we were seated with people we had never met. Because we were seated with strangers, it gave us the opportunity to network during the meals. For example, while attending the last banquet, I sat next to a recruiter who had worked for numerous companies. She said that she loved to help people get jobs by letting them know for what the companies were looking. Throughout the night she gave me a few tips on how to land my dream job. This was what she said to me:
- Do not be intimidated by the recruiters. They are happy to help you because they are looking for people who are compatible for the job.
- People in higher positions are normally more open to students because they themselves have reached success and are willing to help others.
- Join LinkedIn and talk to people online who are in your career. You may one day meet them in person, and you already have previous discussions on which you can build to help you stand out.
- Have an updated resume and business cards. The business card will allow the employer to remember you after you left. So as a student, make sure the business card provides your name, contact information, major, graduation date, and internship experience. Your business card should be like a mini-resume.
- Join nationally recognized organizations that are related to your field of study, such as Women in Aviation.
At the end of the dinner, she had enjoyed our conversation so much that she promised to introduce me to Gulfstream, a company for which she recruits. Talking to the recruiter gave me insight into the perspective of recruiters and what they were looking for in candidates. I started to implement these techniques. Already, my connections have broadened.
I realize that every conference is an opportunity to meet great people who share the same interest and have connections that may help me get started on my career; therefore, it is always best to put your best foot forward because, as the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”
Krystel Parra is a an undergraduate student in the Safety Science program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She works as a student assistant in the Career Services Office and is currently interning with Larsen Motorsports as a Safety Specialist Intern. Krystel also serves as an ambassador for the Embry-Riddle Women’s Ambassador Program.