Happy Holidays from Embry-Riddle Career Services

Happy Holidays from ERAU Career Services


Fall 2012 Graduates’ First Destinations

On Monday morning, the Daytona Beach Career Services team was at graduation collecting data for our First Destination Survey. While the official report will not be available until summer, we thought you might like to see where Daytona Beach (and a few Worldwide) graduates are heading after they walked across the stage at the Ocean Center this past Monday.

If you recently graduated from a residential campus and still don’t have a job, please contact Career Services for guidance and resources that can help you attain employment. Click on the appropriate campus link to view a list of services offered by Career Services.

Congratulations, Embry-Riddle Graduates!


Alumni Career Spotlight: Chris Sarna

Chris Sarna, DB 1994

Christian Sarna, DB 1994

Christian Sarna, originally from Coal City, IL, has been an airline pilot for the last thirteen years. He attended ERAU’s Daytona Beach campus and graduated in 1994 with a degree in Aeronautical Science; he then spent several years afterwards as a flight instructor there as well. He has flown for Trans States Airlines, Comair, and JetBlue Airways, where he is currently a First Officer. Christian and his wife, Karen Magnussen-Sarna (DB, 1997/2004), met on ERAU’s yearbook staff and are both previous recipients of the ERAU President’s Safety Award.

How did you get where you are today?

Starting out as a full-time flight instructor and making $12,000 a year (at the time) requires a great deal of sacrifice. I only  reached my goal of a job with a major airline due to the support of my wife and family.

How has your Embry-Riddle degree helped you in the course of your career?

Any degree is nice to have, but a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University stands out on a resume.  Brand recognition goes a long way in the aviation industry.

What advice would you provide to a pilot who is getting ready to graduate and looking for work?

Network! I cannot stress enough the fact that aviation really is a small community and everyone knows each other…or at least, knows your friend, your former roommate, your former supervisor, former student, etc.  You will be asking your teachers, co-workers and flight students for letters of recommendation for various jobs, so stay positive and take names.

What are your plans for the future?

 I can’t wait to take may wife on a vacation to Middle Earth on Air New Zealand.

The Importance of Internships: A Student’s Perspective

by Lauren Guddahl

Have any of you ever gone without food?  What if I told you I knew someone, let’s call him Johnny, who was starving?  It’s a sad story and we would feel bad for Johnny.  But what if I also said he lived on a farm? Would you feel as bad for him?  Let me clarify that by no means is Johnny’s farm experiencing difficult times.  He’s just not capable of cultivating the land.  You might think: ‘What’s wrong with this guy?  He lives on a farm and still cannot get food for himself?’  You might even laugh.  This is a ridiculous notion.  But this is exactly what you are doing with your education if you do not take part in any professional development experiences prior to graduation.

Seems kind of harsh, doesn’t it?  But it’s true.  I have done an internship and a co-op and have become fascinated with the impact that it had for me on getting full time job offers.  I have spoken with coworkers and friends who have had internships, as well as recruiters, and they all say the same thing.  Do an internship.  The involvement makes graduates more marketable for full time job offers for many reasons.  Networking opportunities become available.  Second, there is an application of the knowledge learned in school.  Another reason to get an internship is to land a higher starting salary.  Finally, the experience gained is one of the most common things recruiters look for when hiring for a full time position.

You may be saying to yourself, these are all great things, but why is being more marketable to the job world so important?  I will tell you why.  Did you know that Chuck Raasch from USA Today has cited the unemployment rate at 8.5% for the Class of 2011in the article “Grim job prospects could scar today’s college graduates?”  That’s not too bad though, right?  You won’t be in that 8.5%.  But consider this: 19.1% of recent graduates are underemployed.  This means that they are working part time when they’d rather be working full time.  And another 40% or so of the lucky graduates who are working, are actually overqualified.  Meaning that the job they have really didn’t require a four year degree at all.  That’s about $160,000 at Riddle if you finish in four years.

In addition to the wonderful statistics I just mentioned, don’t forget that there are now larger numbers of students graduating from colleges and universities.  In a New York Times editorial, “The Class of 2012,” research has shown that salaries have steadily decreased 4.6% since 2007 for recent college graduates.  Adjusted for inflation, this is about $2000 per year.  Not to mention that finding a student with a good GPA isn’t as difficult as it might have once been due to this larger selection.  It’s OK though.  There is a way to appeal to employers once you graduate!  And you all can and should start now by applying to and accepting an internship.

You can begin by working with Career Services to find an internship or co-op that works for you.  According to Kristy Amburgey and Sally Richards from the Career Services Office, as of October, 57.1% of the Class of 2012 from Riddle found employment or decided to continue their education.  28.5% of these people had an internship or co-op experience.  Furthermore, on a national level, the Class of 2011 had a job offer rate greater than 61% for graduates who participated in paid internships at for-profit companies as stated by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in “The Class of 2011 Student Survey Report.”  If you’re still not convinced, you should also be aware that this report also found that the participants of professional education enhancements from the Class of 2011 had a 12.6% higher offer rate for full time jobs than their non-interning counterparts and an 11% higher offer rate for the Class of 2010.

You need to start now.  Especially if you’re a freshman!  When Dr. Cunningham was the Associate Vice President of Academics, he would speak at orientation every year to the incoming students.  His message was the same semester after semester and I never got tired of hearing it: “There are two things every student who comes in here should do: a study abroad and an internship.”  These words have stuck with me and I have particularly taken them to heart.  While the first is an experience in itself, the latter provides more professional development.

First off, networking is an essential part of the experience.  A friend of mine, Cody, had an internship with Continental Airlines in the Fall of 2011.  Through this, he was able to meet and connect with former F-14 and F-18 pilots as well as flight engineers on the P-3.  They later wrote him excellent recommendation letters for a flight slot with the Navy.  He is convinced that his connection from the internship is what secured him his slot.

Another friend of mine, Fred, did not have the best grades, but he was extremely passionate about what he was interested in.  He knew an internship was going to be extremely difficult for him to get since his GPA was low, so he got creative. He scheduled meetings with managers of small businesses just to express interest in the company and explain in person, after schmoozing managers, that while he didn’t have the best grades, he knew his stuff.  He was made four separate offers this way and even had a CEO specially create an intern position for him because he showed his determination.

This is all great.  You may be thinking, yes, an internship sounds like a great idea, but what about my four year plan?  Graduating in four years is not the most important thing!  In a long heart to heart with Dr. Gupta, one of the AE professors, I was told: “My friend, you come to school to get a job.  If you are being offered a job, you take a break from school for a little while and you take the job.  Just a little while.”  Getting hands on training is much more valuable than completing a degree in a set time frame.  Do not miss the internship/co-op experience because you will not graduate “on time.”  Employers would rather see real work experience!

I have turned a ten semester program into thirteen even though I started with a semester’s worth of credits.  However, I have a guaranteed job now once I am done with school.  I have done an internship and co-op and have had other job offers aside from the one I have accepted and I still have another year before I finish school.  I am 99.9% certain that had I not had my internship or co-op that I would not be in the position I am in now.

Envision yourself sitting in a first class seat of a 747 on a sixteen hour flight back from a weekend in Australia with a mimosa – if you’re old enough! – in your hand.  You paid $400 for the roundtrip first class ticket.  This was my reality less than four months ago because I was finishing my co-op with Continental/United Airlines.

Take a step back.  Or I should say a step forward!  It is one to three years from now and you are graduating.  Where will you be heading?  Were you successful here?  Do you know what you want to be?  I’ve got news for you: school is different than the real world!  I was convinced after my first semester here that I wanted to do something with CATIA as a career.  Naturally, I applied for CAD support internships and landed one for six months at MTU Aero Engines.  Working as a CAD support intern was nothing like what I thought it would be.  It was fun and I wouldn’t trade those few months for anything, but it is not a suitable career for me.  Had I not taken the internship, I may not have known that and might have ended up in a position where I was doing that as a full time employee with no hopes of leaving in a few months or so.  Applying what you learn in school to real work experiences helps ensure the “dream job” you want is really what you want.

Furthermore, GPA isn’t everything.  From a growing market, employers have a large selection to choose from. “I have a degree” no longer means “I have a job” like it once did.   I have a friend named Becca who graduated in May 2011 with a 4.0 and still has no job.  She has gone on several interviews and has not made the final cut because even though other applicants have lower GPAs, they have had experience from an internship or co-op.  Do you want to be like Becca?  Living with her parents after being away for school?  Depending on them for every penny and dime coming your way?  We all hopefully love our parents, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

With that being said, what would you do if someone gave you $66 every week?  66 bucks a week!  Just because… you had an internship?  On average, that is how much more you can be making with a starting salary if you have a professional development experience according to the “Impact of Internships on Salary Offers” from the NACE Class of 2011 statistics.  The Class of 2010 had it even better – NACE statistics state that they had overall offers $7000 higher than graduates who did not partake in internships.  I don’t know about you, but I could do a lot with another $66 a week being thrown my way.  Don’t just take my word on how beneficial an internship can be, though.  Get out there and speak to employers about job prospects for the future.

As I think I might have stated before, with the increasing difficulty it is to get a job, graduates need to have an edge over competitors to market themselves to employers.  This can be done by applying for internships. TODAY!  Right after I finish giving you these tips!  Half listen to me and pull out your laptops right now.  Do not put it off any longer!  EagleHire is a great place to start, but don’t limit yourself to Riddle resources.  Google internships.  Find a person who works at the company you want to work at and ask them about opportunities.

Then prepare for interviews. Career Services can help you by reviewing your resume or setting up mock interviews.  Make sure you’ve researched the companies you’re interested in working for – why do you want to work for them?  What sets them apart?  What can you bring to the company that would make you the ideal candidate?

Now get involved!  Go to networking events! Meet people and get your name out there.  Ask for e-mail addresses and follow up with them.  Hope they enjoy their Thanksgiving, wish them Happy New Year’s.  This is that person who might be able to help you get your foot in the door later down the line.  Get to know professors too.  An advisor of a club you’re in, a coach of a sport you play, or your boss for the minimum wage job you have right now.  They will be able to provide excellent references for you when the time comes.

Get an internship and you just might be able to look back and tell your friends how you got to go to Europe (or Australia) for a weekend! Or say how you got to work on parts for the F-18!  Or were given an exclusive VIP tour of the Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis!  Or… well, I could probably go on for a while but I think you get the point.  Get an internship!

Lauren Guddahl is a graduate student in the Aerospace Engineering program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach campus. In fall 2010, Lauren Guddahl left the United States for Germany to complete an unforgettable engineering internship with MTU Aero Engines. During her time in Germany, she had the chance to learn the culture and the language while gaining new computer skills, exposure to the working world, and practical experience. This past fall, Lauren decided to complete a co-op, this time with United Continental Holdings, dba United Airlines as an Aircraft Structures Co-op. Both of these experiences have given Lauren knowledge and perspective that she would likely not otherwise possess, along with some great stories to share in future interviews. Read more about Lauren’s experiences in her Co-op/Internship Spotlight on the Going Places blog.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Karen Magnussen-Sarna

Karen Sarna

Karen Magnussen-Sarna, DB 1997/2004

Karen Magnussen-Sarna grew up in Brooklyn, NY and has lived in Daytona Beach, FL ever since attending Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus. After graduating in 1997, she worked for ERAU at the Fleet Maintenance Center as an A&P mechanic and assistant parts manager for 8 years before moving into the airline industry. After working contract maintenance jobs for the US Navy, she has now settled in with Allegiant Airlines in Sanford, FL. Karen holds associates degrees in Aircraft Maintenance and Aviation Maintenance Technology, a bachelor’s degree in Management of Technical Operations and a Master of Science in Aeronautics from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus.

What does your position with Allegiant Airlines entail?

Since I have a flexible schedule, I often find myself performing two jobs. When I am at my home base, I am the Stores Lead. I process incoming and outgoing maintenance parts to our mechanics, vendors and other bases and assist in solving material handling issues. On the road, I act as a Materials Expediter, which is a liaison between our MRO personnel and materials services department.

What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?

I’m still fairly new with Allegiant Travel Company, coming up on 2 years. However, the company saw fit to send me to our base in IWA (Mesa, AZ) four months after I was hired to temporarily take the place of another employee who left suddenly. That they trusted a station to me after such a short time on the job was nerve-wracking and satisfying at the same time.

What three traits or skills have made you the most successful in your career?

Adaptability, perseverance, and the desire to learn new things. The last part comes from an ERAU professor that I had, who would end his class session by asking us students to name one new thing we had learned that day. We’d sat in classes all day long, and it was shocking that we couldn’t always come up with something right away. From that, I taught myself to look for opportunities to learn because they don’t always present themselves in obvious ways.

What career advice do you have for graduates seeking work in the field of aviation maintenance?

Going though A&P school, you are focused on the “meaty” side of aviation maintenance; you might have this image of yourself turning wrenches on an airliner. But there are other areas within maintenance that might not be so hands-on that still require an A&P, so try to be open-minded about your options. Positions in tooling and repair facilities, maintenance planning departments,  or sheet metal and fabrication shops are just as hands-on as the airline job.

Ready, Set, Go…with a Back-up Plan

by Amy Treutel

ATC Tower LabThe Air Traffic Management degree at Embry-Riddle is a very specific one.  Most students go through the program with the intent to become an Air Traffic Controller after graduation.  They know the courses they have to take at Embry-Riddle, and they know what steps they must go through after graduation to apply with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and be on their way to pursuing their dreams.  What seems like a clear cut process can become slightly more complicated as things like budget cuts and increased wait times creep into the picture, however.

This is when it’s important to call upon your back-up plan!  Most students realize that they do have to do something between when they graduate and when they get hired by the FAA as an Air Traffic Control Specialist trainee.  As the hiring panel is only every six months (November and March), there will be a wait time between graduation and when the ball gets going for Air Traffic Control.  In fact, the average wait time for a graduate of the air traffic management degree program to be hired by the FAA is just over a year, but for others that time can stretch into two, sometimes three years.  Almost 80 percent of graduates jump right into the workforce after graduation, whether they are working as a Remote Pilot Operator at Raytheon or in customer service at Staples.  What many students don’t take advantage of, however, is this two to three year gap where they can get started on a career or pursue an advanced degree.

There are so many opportunities for graduates with backgrounds in Air Traffic Control.  It’s not advice you want to hear, but it is solid advice nonetheless: pursue other adventures!  Many air traffic graduates are in the industry right now, waiting to be hired by the FAA but at the same time working in a job they love and are passionately pursuing.  It doesn’t mean you’ve given up on your career goals, and it doesn’t mean your degree is worthless.  It means you were proactive and responsible enough to realize that you may have to take a different path to become an Air Traffic Controller than others, but in the end, you’ll be sitting in the same tower cab or radar room as the guy or girl who chose not to get that extra experience.

For example, take Alyssa Smith, a recent air traffic graduate.  She is currently working for The Boeing Company as a Quality System Specialist.  After completing an internship with Boeing, she was offered a full-time position.  While waiting to be hired, she is gaining great full-time work experience as well as growing her network by working in the industry.  Travis Gonzalez is another great example of a graduate of the Air Traffic Management degree program.  Currently, Travis is working at The Mitre Corporation, and while he initially had plans to become an Air Traffic Controller, he found another passion and pursued it.  Travis is still involved in air traffic but is working more with research and analysis.  Still want another example?  Bryan Dietz graduated with an Air Traffic Management degree and has also pursued a career outside of being a controller.

With the FAA’s recent announcement that just a very small hiring panel will be held this November, many air traffic graduates are left thinking, now what?  Now is the perfect time to call upon your back-up plan.  Get started early and don’t wait to be hired by the FAA.  Go through your career checklist.  See what other graduates have done and learn about companies hiring Air Traffic Management graduates.  Check out the Career Services website to see the many resources that are available to make a job search easier for you.  Choose a couple of minors that could translate into skills for alternate types of jobs.  Then get out there and make industry contacts while working full-time.  It’s important to get your foot in the door, and who knows, maybe you’ll find a new passion and calling doing something other than pushing tin.

Amy Treutel graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Air Traffic Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics with a specialization in Management.  She currently works as the Office Associate and has been part of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Career Services team for five years.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Bryan Dietz

Bryan Dietz, DB 2010

Bryan Dietz, DB 2010

Bryan Dietz graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Air Traffic Management, with minors in Business and International Relations.  Bryan was an active leader on campus during his time at ERAU, with his most visible role as the SGA president.  Bryan took advantage of all opportunities to get involved and develop professionally, which included participating in the Co-op/Internship program.  Bryan’s internship led to his current position with the Allegheny County Airport Authority as an Aviation Business Analyst.  Bryan is engaged to be married and is looking forward to personal and professional milestones to come.

Tell us what you have been doing since graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in May of 2010?

I think the most exciting thing so far is meeting my fiancée, Shannon, after coming back to Pittsburgh. I am very fortunate to have found someone who appreciates my passion for aviation as well as the need for me to look at every airplane above us when we are outside! We enjoy Pittsburgh and it is a great place to live with plenty to do so we find time to enjoy the city.

Following graduation, I was able to come back home and work for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which manages Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and Allegheny County Airport (AGC).  While I work with multiple departments at the airport, I work primarily with Air Service Development to develop passenger and cargo flights from PIT.  It has been a great experience being able to work with multiple airlines, other departments, fellow airports, and the ever increasing number of Embry-Riddle alumni.

I stay in touch with Embry-Riddle as a member of the Alumni Advisory Council (AAC) and through the network of Embry-Riddle Alumni.  It is amazing how the campus has changed since just two years ago!

You completed an internship at Allegheny County Airport Authority prior to graduating.  How did this experience help you to obtain your current position?

My internship did three things for me.  First, it made me look outside of the possibilities of my degree program.  While I was an Air Traffic Management major at Embry-Riddle, I wanted to see what airports did in the role of aviation.  I was able to do an internship between my junior and senior year only to find out Airport Management was a better fit for me personally. I have not regretted that decision one bit and would not have known airports were the right fit for me without that internship.

Secondly, the internship exposed me as a potential employee to not only the airport but other aviation sectors as well. Being able to have a company see your work in action is the single best advantage in doing an internship.  I feel it is a advantage ahead of those who apply to a job because the employer  can see the type of work you do first hand.

Lastly, the internship brought a whole additional learning element to my degree.  Not only did I learn real world experiences and knowledge during my internship, but during my last year on campus, I felt as if I was able to apply more of what I learned in the classroom.  I remember specifically, that I appreciated a class I took in Human Resources much more after seeing how important it was in the airport environment.

What have you found most surprising about your career and your work environment?

Bryan Dietz, ERAU DB 2010The most surprising part in my career has been how “small” the aviation industry really is.  In fact, it often feels like the world’s biggest family.  No matter where you go or what you do, you meet someone who knows a friend of yours or who has worked with a colleague of yours at a previous company.  Embry-Riddle is also a big part of what makes the industry feel so small – there are so many graduates out there who I am connected with.

Can you share some advice for current students?

Without a doubt, do not rush your college experience and become involved on campus.  Looking back, the time at Embry-Riddle does move very quickly and I miss the friendships and the campus quite often.  Becoming involved not only makes that experience that much better but it really does prepare you for the work world.  At work, we interact with so many colleagues and customers that have different personalities, backgrounds, and culture that it takes time to find the best ways to interact with those groups.  But getting involved on campus in the clubs, organizations, or sports teams, does give you real work experience in working with different types of people while giving you other skills such as managing the budget of a club and learning how to run a meeting. Having the chance to get involved on campus not only makes you more effective at work but also gives you actual experience and examples to share with your future employer.

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