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.

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