Joanne Soliman is living the dream of Safety Science graduates, working for the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, DC as an Operations Research Analyst in the Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention. While working on her BS in Safety Science and Master of Science in Aeronautics, Joanne gained relevant experience by completing two FAA Aircraft Maintenance Division internships through The Washington Center. Additionally, prior to accepting the position with the Federal Aviation Administration, Joanne worked for PAI Consulting, a consulting firm that contracts with the FAA.
How did you get your job with the FAA?
I applied for my current position through the USAjobs.gov website. The application process in itself is long and daunting. Outside the normal realms of a job application, FAA applications have a section known as Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) which require written answers. Your answers should reflect your ability to execute the duties of the position. However, prior to my application ending up on my hiring manager’s desk for review, it underwent a screening process which is designed to essentially eliminate applicants who do not meet the requirements stated in the position description. In my case it was based both on education and experience. A month after I made it through the screening process, I received an invitation for a face-to-face interview. In total the entire process from application to swearing-in took about five months.
What is the secret to your success?
I feel the secret to my success thus far has been learning how to fail. It is not only a humbling experience, but it has also helped develop my character as a professional. It has forced me to ask questions when a process I’ve used for completing a task has not produced the necessary results.
What is one piece of career advice you would like to share?
If anything, I have two pieces of career advice. The first would be to get an internship while you are at ERAU. It will give you the opportunity to really understand what is happening in our industry and to take those skills that you have learned in the classroom and apply them to real-life situations. Secondly, continue to learn; employers want to see that candidates and employees are either developing or sharpening the skills necessary to be successful in their positions. If a learning opportunity comes by, don’t pass it up.
What three traits or skills have made you the most successful in your career?
Organizational Skills: If you are not organized, then I encourage you to get organized. Being unorganized is a good way to make a bad impression, not to mention the exorbitant amount of time wasted fumbling through thumb drives searching for your part of that project which needs to be delivered to your colleagues or boss. I wasn’t always very organized, but I realized very early on how critical my organizational skills would be to my success in my career. I know where everything is at in my desk, so if someone asks me for a document that they need, I know just where to go to get it.
Critical Thinking Skills: My job requires me to look through thousands of pieces of data every day. I have to be able to sort through the information and analyze the relevance and meaning and relate it to the project or a safety concern which may arise.
Networking: I was surprised at first at the number of ERAU Alumni who lived and worked in the DC area. However, once it became obvious that there was a vast ERAU network here, I began reaching out to people I had not only gone to school with and remembered seeing around campus, but to alumni who attended the Worldwide campus. My networks not only led me to my current position, but I have developed excellent working relationships and friendships.