Alumni Spotlight: Calvin Hart

Calvin Hart graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach in December of 2004 with a Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems Engineering.  He is currently the founder and CEO of Tent Limited. Calvin hart2

How has your career progressed and changed since you graduated from Embry-Riddle?

I graduated with a Masters in Human Factors and Systems Engineering and I continued with this after I left but applied the same principles and learnings to the software industry followed by the financial industry. Moving from Florida to Silicon Valley, California then on to Hong Kong for 5 years and then to London where I opened up my own Digital Design studio. Its been recently nominated for a few awards including fastest growing start-up. In 9 months since starting this company, the team has grown from 3 people to 45 people today. I have teams in London, Sydney, Hong Kong, Miami, Seattle and Mexico City.

What made you decide to take the leap and open up your own firm?

I was working in the Finance industry for a very large Bank and started to create my own products (e.g. Online banking tools, platforms for wealth management etc.) which I got funding for from the bank. Once I saw people/customers getting excited about the products I built and increasingly using these products, I decided to set up my own studio and build these out for myself. Its exciting, and every day is its own set of challenges and with this comes reward (and yes, a lot of sleepless nights!) 🙂

Please tell us about your company.

Tent Limited is brand strategy and digital design agency. We provide innovative solutions to organizations through customer insight, strategic thinking and crafted story generation and design that brings our clients’ brands closer to their customers. 

Although we are a diverse team, we have some remarkable points of alignment. We are passionate, self-motivated, excited by what we do and unafraid of finding, following or even trail breaking on paths less trodden. We work hard, support each other and take the time to recognize great efforts, magic moments and have fun. We work globally; based in the heart of the London digital corridor at Shoreditch but currently working across five continents with multi-national, cultural and linguistic perspectives to bring to light.

What would you say has been the secret to your success so far?

Wanting everything we do, make and touch to be perfect! For this to happen, you have to be really passionate about your Brand and surround yourself with quality people. I am a brand fanatic! My core management team is a highly motivated, self-driven team and they get rewarded based on how much friction they can remove from my life.

What advice do you have for Embry-Riddle alumni who are thinking of starting their own businesses?

– It took me many many years to take the giant leap, and although I always wanted to do it, I was in no hurry. I built up my experience and exposure and learned a lot of lessons along the way (around the world in the last 10 years). My passion is always to improve something ‘just a little’…..very incrementally improve things around you and the bigger wins will fall into place. Use each and every experience as a learning experience no matter how good or bad it is.

– Learn to recognize talent and associate yourself with talented people. This is the core of any successful business or venture.

– With all said and done, it is a lot of hard work, and in my opinion….. a wasted day is a day where I don’t see the sun rise. Long hours are a part of it, but a few years of long hours and it all starts to pay off.Calvin Hart1


Alumni Career Spotlight: Nick Kleoppel

Nick (pictured, right) with the Cape Air Safety Team

Nick (pictured, right) with the Cape Air Safety Team

Nick Kleoppel’s aviation career started at a small FBO in Lee’s Summit, MO where he began flight training for his Private Pilot certificate.  This led into a passion for aviation, which drove Nick to Embry-Riddle in the fall of 2005 to begin the Aeronautical Science program.  Nick graduated in 2009 with his bachelor’s degree as well as his Commercial certificate in both Single and Multi Engine Aircraft with Instrument Rating.  During his undergraduate studies, Nick participated in the Dispatcher program offered through the University and attained his Dispatcher’s certificate.

Economic uncertainty was still looming overhead and there were very few promising jobs available; so in the fall of 2009, Nick chose to continue his education at Embry-Riddle through the Master of Science in Aeronautics program. Nick specialized in both Airline Operations and Airline Management, making it a point to take safety-related classes to support the operations and management curriculum.

After graduating in December 2011, Nick accepted a position with Cape Air as a Part 135 Flight Follower with the option to move into a Part 121 Dispatcher position.  During his time as a Flight Follower, the Cape Air Safety Department was beginning to incorporate new safety programs and needed assistance implementing them.  Nick was asked to participate in the Internal Evaluation Program (IEP) with conducting station audits and editing checklists.  Because of the expansion, the Safety Department was looking to hire a full-time position to manage many of these programs.  Nick joined Cape Air’s Safety Department in December 2012 as the Safety Programs Manager.

Tell us about your current role at Cape Air and how you obtained this opportunity

As the Safety Programs Manager, I primarily manage the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) and IEP programs as well as participate in general safety investigations, projects, and campaigns.  On the ASAP side, I facilitate Event Review Committee (ERC) meetings between company, union, and FAA representatives to discuss safety reports and develop corrective actions.  I track all ERC corrective actions and recommendations and ensure their implementation.  When in the IEP manager role, I develop checklists, audit schedules, audit plans, auditor training, and any other documents needed to successfully conduct audits and evaluations.

I was able to connect with Cape Air through a network of professors/friends who knew many of the individuals working at Cape Air.  Their recommendations and references provided me the foot in the door I needed to get my aviation career up and running.

As a recent graduate now in the aviation industry, what were some challenges you encountered. 

One of the greatest challenges I faced upon searching for a career was the “catch 22” of the aviation industry.  Most aviation jobs sought by recent college graduates with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree require experience in order to get hired; however, there are limited opportunities that provide the experience you need.  Many college graduates with bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees may not want to take entry-level positions because of the education and degrees they have received.  Many may believe they deserve supervisor or management level positions.

Another challenge was looking for jobs in the Florida area so that I could remain local and not have to relocate.  The problem arises when so many students graduate from Embry-Riddle each year with the same degrees and flight experiences.  Most aviation jobs in Florida receive multiple applications from ERAU graduates who all have the same resume.  There is very little that separates each resume besides the name of the applicant.  Both of these challenges make it difficult to get your foot in the door with a company.

What helped me to get my foot in the door was my willingness to relocate and accept a position that may not fit my desired career path, along with my network connections.

NFA Group, Cape Air

NFA Group, Cape Air

Now that you are in a professional role in the aviation industry, what advice would you give to an upcoming graduate looking for their first career position?

Do not be afraid to accept an entry-level position to get your foot in the door.  I accepted the position of Flight Follower to start somewhere.  There was the uncertainty of career advancement in the field that I wanted.  The natural progression of a Flight Follower is to become a Dispatcher.  Though I enjoyed the experience of attaining my Dispatcher certificate and was willing to follow that career path, it was not what I wanted.    Therefore, I decided that experience was key, even if it was not on my desired career path.  Now that I have joined the Safety Team, I realize there is no such thing as invaluable experience.  The time I spent as a flight follower prepared me for the safety department by providing me the knowledge of how airline operations work in the “real world”, not a textbook.  Through that position, I gained experience working with maintenance, crew scheduling, and station agents.  I learned about weather delays, mechanical delays, passenger service and baggage handling.  Everything I experienced helped prepare me for the safety position.

Many of our graduates have to relocate for their career opportunities.  You moved from sunny Daytona Beach, FL to the Hyannis, MA area.  What advice would you give on relocating? 

Relocating for a job can be very tricky.  My wife and I traveled to Cape Cod for a weekend to check out the area and visit the Cape Air headquarters.  There are many months where the Cape is cold and grey,  but the summer months are simply breathtaking.  We were unsure how we would do living in a different part of the country, but were willing to try it!  If you are thinking of relocating for professional reasons, make sure you are willing to stay longer than a year.  Give the new job, location and yourself time to adjust; you never know where it will take you.  It takes time to meet people, learn about the surrounding area, and to “settle in.”  Every step in life is an adventure, make sure you take the time to stop and enjoy every phase.  Most people do not realize they are living the “good times” until they are over.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Michael Raynard Mayberry

Michael Raynard Mayberry graduated from the Worldwide Campus of Embry-Michael MayberryRiddle Aeronautical University in March 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and minors in Aviation Safety and Management. Michael then went on to pursue a Master of Aeronautical Science in the specialty fields of Aviation/Aerospace Safety Systems and Aviation/Aerospace Operations, graduating in May 2012.

Michael is a retired U.S. Navy Combat Veteran who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism. In August 2007, Michael joined the civilian workforce at Flightstar Aircraft Services (FAS) as an Avionics Specialist. During his time at FAS, he continued his education path by completing his undergraduate and master degrees. He didn’t stop there. His focus was to use his military experience and college education to land a position in Safety, Quality, or Operations. With the help of Career Services resources, he was able to build a government resume that detailed each career field for which he wanted to apply. Within time, the interviews started coming forth. On August 30, 2010, Michael started work with the Federal Government, Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) as an Aircraft Quality Assurance Engineer.

Michael is an active leader in his community of Orange Park, FL. He’s a member of West Jacksonville Church of God in Christ where he’s a volunteer leader of ReSon to Care Male Mentoring Ministry (ages 6-16) and The Men of Distinction (MOD) Ministry.  Michael has been married to Michelle for 23 years, by whom he fathered two lovely daughters, RayNiesha and Deja.

Michael also serves as the Florida Federation/North Area Director of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. where he was awarded Upsilon Lambda Chapter New Brother of the Year Service Award in 2004 and Brother of the Year in 2005. He served as Chapter President in 2006 and 2007. Since then he has held numerous chapter executive positions.

With your background in aviation safety, avionics and quality engineering, what career advice do you have for people seeking employment in these areas?

Stay with what you know!! Most military personnel have multiple skills, and it’s quite okay to have multiple skillsets since it gives you more opportunities to land a job. The fields of Safety and Quality have similar backgrounds, so that made it much easier to build my government resume with keywords for the electronic resume systems. My undergraduate studies at Tennessee State University were Technical Aeronautics within Industrial Engineering. The ERAU Professional Aeronautics degree was definitely a refresher in up-to-date studies and programs to prepare me for the civilian sector. Advancing into a master’s program in Aeronautics and Aerospace gave me the opportunity to apply for mid-level career jobs. To sum it all up, the more education and experience you have, the more of an invaluable candidate you are for employment. If you find yourself facing challenges getting employed in one field, customize your resume for another field of study or experience you may have. Any certification courses (such as A&P, ASQ, Lean Six Sigma) that you completed while in the military or college are definitely a plus when seeking employment.

You successfully navigated the federal government application process. What tips do you have for application success?

The federal government resume should be at least five pages, and that can be very difficult for anyone just getting out of college. Prior military personnel can establish a lengthy resume by utilizing their military assignments. I suggest utilizing performance evaluations written in Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) as a key resource. College students should make every attempt to acquire an internship within the federal government. This will get you in the door and establish a federal record. It can take six months to a year to successfully get into the federal government system. It all starts with the resume. If you know someone who is already within the government system, ask that person or contact Human Resources to get a copy of the Job Skillset of your career path. You can also retrieve skillset information from the job descriptions that is within the job announcements on USAJobs. Take advantage of the resources offered by ERAU Career Services.

Networking has been a successful job search technique for you. How have you used networking to obtain employment? What did you do to market yourself to potential employers?

My technique of networking was to compile a list of people I knew within the companies that had my interest. I continued forwarding my resume to each of them with updates and suggestions that were given to me. Each time I received a name via the Industry/Career Expo, internet, telephone, or through referrals, I would add that person to the email when forwarding my resume. It’s good to enter your name into a company’s database so you will be readily available once an announcement posts. I still attend the ERAU Industry/Career Expo and other job fairs every opportunity I get. This is a good way to meet people within Human Resources or representatives from a targeted company. It’s also important to review and update your resume on a monthly basis.

How have your Embry-Riddle degrees opened doors for you?

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a well-known, respected university in the aviation industry.  Technical skills are in high demand in today’s economy, and a degree from ERAU is priority because of its technical educational studies. Let’s just say a degree from ERAU is priceless.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Heather Owen

Heather OwenA Port Orange, FL native, Heather Owen graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Communications (minors in International Relations and Homeland Security) and in 2011 with a Master of Science in Aeronautics (Systems Safety specialization). During her time at ERAU, she studied abroad in China in 2008, and she was captain of the Eagles cheerleading team, a sister of Alpha Xi Delta, and a member of Women in Aviation International. She is currently a Safety Specialist, managing the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) for ExpressJet Airlines in Atlanta, GA. Heather is engaged to a U.S. Air Force Reservist and is excited about integrating her career with her fiance and discovering the world together.

Discuss your internship experiences while enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University?

While enrolled at ERAU, I had two international internships; both were professionally and personally defining.

During the Spring 2010 semester, I interned with the Department of State at the U.S. Consulate in Munich, Germany, as a Political and Economic Diplomacy intern. Although not a traditional internship for an aviation major, my internship incorporated my interests in politics, diplomacy, and German culture. During the internship, highlights included meeting Senator John McCain, working as a site officer during the Munich Security Conference, and traveling with the Consul General to aviation industry locations in Nuremburg and Furth. Heather Owen with McCain

Upon my return to ERAU, I spent much of my graduate schooling looking for a career field that would meld my new passions for international diplomacy with my existing one for aviation. During research for my thesis, my advisor suggested the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an air transport-specialized agency of the United Nations. Immediately following my Spring 2011 graduation, I moved to Montreal, Canada, to intern with ICAO in the Air Navigation Bureau – Integrated Safety Management Section. During my internship, I worked with the office to develop and write safety culture sections for ICAO’s Safety Management Manual. I also gained firsthand experience with aviation’s governing side.

How did your internship experience help prepare you for your current position?

My internship with the State Department taught me diplomacy goes far beyond just international politics. I utilize it most during ASAP meetings between my present company, the FAA, and the workforce union. My ICAO internship introduced me to safety reporting systems. I now manage the Aviation Safety Action Program, a non-punitive, voluntary, and confidential safety reporting system for ExpressJet Airlines’ pilots, dispatchers, and mechanics.

What advice do you have for students who want to intern with a government agency?

Interning with a government agency is to participate daily in activities that may have historical significance. Ask to attend any and every meeting. Whether you understand the topic or even the language, it is important and exciting to see how meetings produce or enact policy at the international level. While in Montreal, I listened to a meeting being simultaneously interpreted in six languages; in Munich, the Security Conference had nearly 20 represented languages.

Do not be discouraged that Embry-Riddle is not a “traditional” international relations university. I almost didn’t apply because I felt like I wouldn’t be considered if I didn’t come from Johns Hopkins or Georgetown. However, my boss in Munich said he hired me because my aviation focus could offer a unique perspective to the Consulate. Additionally, he found ways to incorporate my aviation experiences and gave me chances to serve as the consulate’s subject matter expert.

Finally, while pursuing a government internship, be sure to allow ample time for a security clearance. Additionally, response time can be slow from government agencies, so don’t be discouraged if you haven’t heard from them quickly. By the time I received my interview request from the State Department, it had been three months and I had forgotten about it.

What are your future aspirations?

Professionally, I would like to stay within Atlanta’s burgeoning aviation industry for the next few years. Eventually, I would like to relocate back to Montreal and resume working for ICAO in safety. Personally, I’d like to fill the few remaining spots in my passport and run a race in a foreign country.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Gonzalo Canseco

Gonzalo during the delivery of the 1st Boeing 787 to launch customer ANA.

Gonzalo during the delivery of the 1st Boeing 787 to launch customer ANA.

Gonzalo Canseco graduated from the Daytona Beach campus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in May of 2006 and holds multiple degrees, which include Aerospace Engineering, Aeronautical Science, and Applied Meteorology. And yes, there is a story for all the degrees, but you’ll have to contact Gonzalo if you want to know the details.

During his time at Embry-Riddle, Gonzalo did two internships, first with LAB Airlines as an aircraft dispatcher for Boeing 727/737 and Airbus A300 aircraft and later as a Certification Engineer with Kosola & Associates working multiple Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) projects on commercial aircraft (B727, B737, B747), helicopters (Sikorsky S-92, Eurocopter EC135), and structural testing.

In June of 2006, Gonzalo joined Labinal/Safran Engineering Services as a Requirements Validation and Verification Engineer and was later promoted to his current position as a Certification Engineer in 2007. In November of 2011, Gonzalo was given the delegation of Authorized Representative (AR) by the Boeing Regulatory Administration on behalf of the FAA (Designated Engineering Representative – DER delegation).  This delegation allows Gonzalo to approve engineering designs that show compliance with the airworthiness regulations. During his time at Labinal, Gonzalo has supported and helped achieve critical B787 milestones, including engineering requirements verification, type certification with the FAA and EASA regulatory agencies, and multiple customer introduction certifications. Gonzalo continues to be involved with his role as an AR in the B787 program for customer introductions and the new 787-9 model. In the Safran Engineering Services division, Gonzalo has also supported STC programs such as an avionics upgrade with Heli-One for the Los Angeles Sheriff Department on Eurocopter Super Puma rotorcrafts and most recently a military modernization of Eurocopter rotorcrafts for the Brazilian Army.

Gonzalo holds an FAA Commercial Pilot Certificate with Single Engine, Multi Engine, and Instrument ratings and an FAA Aircraft Dispatcher License. He currently resides in Everett, WA together with his wife Darcy and their two dogs.

Tell us about your position with Labinal/Safran Engineering Services.  How did you get this opportunity? 

Labinal came to Embry-Riddle to interview for design engineer positions, and when I interviewed with them, the recruiter noticed my previous experience working in certification with a DER (internship with Kosola); plus I had also expressed my interest and goal to one day become a DER myself. A week later when decisions were being made, I was asked to do an additional interview with the Director of Certification since they had an opening for a requirements engineer, and when asked if that was a career path that I would be interested in instead of design engineering, I had no hesitation in saying yes!

Seven years later, my career has progressed much quicker than I ever expected. As a certification engineer, I get involved in all aspects of design projects, from the early planning phases when the certification plan and agreements are reached with the regulatory agencies all the way to design reviews and aircraft inspections to ensure that the final product meets the applicable airworthiness regulations.

Gonzalo and his wife Darcy during the delivery of the 1st Boeing 787 to launch customer ANA.

Gonzalo and his wife Darcy during the delivery of the 1st Boeing 787 to launch customer ANA.

What is one of the most interesting/exciting parts of your position?

This position allows me to work on several different projects at a time, from the Large Transport Category and modern Boeing 787 to small rotorcraft modifications and upgrades in both the civilian and military worlds.

There is always something exciting going on with this position, but the one that I enjoy the most and which brings the most satisfaction is being part of the review and inspections process to ensure that our designs comply with the airworthiness regulations. For this activity we perform design reviews of all the 3D models, 2D drawings, and process documents and in most cases are also required to do on-airplane inspections before it can be certified and delivered to the customers. As an AR, I also have the responsibility to sign the required FAA forms stating that our design is in compliance.

At the end of the day, I see our job as making sure the final product is safe for the airlines and passengers. We take this job very seriously and also take pride in it.

What attributes and accomplishments do you feel led to your success as a Certification Engineer at Safran Engineering Services?

There are many things I learned during my time at Embry-Riddle that have helped me progress in my career that it would take a lot to write them all, but I think these are some of the more important ones:

1. There’s a lot more than just studying and memorizing things in college:

  • Learn how to work with diverse groups; you will be doing that for the rest of your life in the engineering world. I had the opportunity to get a lot of experience in this area by working as a Resident Advisor and Resident Director in the housing department as well as with our Preliminary Design and Senior Design projects.
  • Get involved in campus organizations; get a part-time job; get internship experience. They will all make you a well-rounded individual and better candidate for most companies. I can honestly say that without the internship I did while at Embry-Riddle I would not be where I am today.

2. However, don’t forget the studying part:

  • Not every single thing you learn in school will be used in each individual career, but it will make you an overall well-rounded engineer who can have educated conversations on any technical topic with other senior engineers, technical managers, etc. This will make you stand out among your peers and help you advance in your career. I was able to experience this first hand when I got selected as an AR candidate and had to interact with several mentors and advisors all of whom had different backgrounds (mechanical engineering, systems engineering, etc.).
  • If you want to be a good aerospace engineer, get some actual flying experience (i.e. take a private pilot’s ground school, some Aeronautical Science classes, or even better get your license). Something I see a lot is people that know all the engineering models and techniques but have no clear understanding of what it really means to be at the command of an aircraft, what it feels to be in the shoes of the pilot, and that can limit your capabilities to contribute as an engineer. In my case having a pilot’s license allowed me to become a more valuable employee and has come very useful when trying to explain the effects that some designs and failures can have on the aircraft and on the pilots.

What advice do you have for current students to help them succeed post-graduation, based on your experiences?

  • Learn to be patient; most design projects in our industry can last several years, and they don’t get done in one semester like they used to in college. Also, when dealing with promotions, if you become anxious in a couple of  years when you are not seeing progress in your current job and decide to move to another company, you probably have to start all over again, when waiting an extra year could have made the difference at your existing job.
  • Take challenges at work; everyone does their normal 8 to 5, but to stand out you have to be willing to take challenges. That project that your boss wants as an improvement and no one else is willing to take may be the one that gets you recognized and on a better career path. Also, taking challenges will force you to learn new things and become a more valuable employee.
  • Always have a positive attitude. Yes, I can guarantee you that there will be stressful days at work, tough co-workers to deal with, deadlines to meet, and many other things that will make you forget why you even got into this job. But becoming bitter will not solve anything. Instead remain positive and look for ways to improve the design, improve the process, improve the work relationships, or improve the schedules. There is always room for improvement, and as an engineer, that’s one thing you should always remember.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Kruthika Srinivasan

Kruthika Srinivasan, DB 2011

Kruthika Srinivasan, DB 2011

Kruthika Srinivasan is a 2011 graduate of Embry-Riddle’s MBA program. Born and raised in India, Kruthika left her home country at age 17 to work on a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechatronics from the University of Nottingham. Soon after receiving her degree, Kruthika realized she wanted to immerse herself in the aviation industry and decided that a degree from Embry-Riddle would be the best way to move forward with her goals. She moved to the United States and began attending Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus. As an MBA student, Kruthika landed an internship at Southwest Airlines. Soon after completing her internship, she interviewed for her current position. Kruthika is a Senior Analyst in the Network Planning Department, where she has been working for the last year.

Tell us about your position at Southwest Airlines and what you enjoy about working for them.

As a Senior Analyst in the Network planning department, I am part of the team that is responsible for routing and scheduling the approximately 520 aircraft in our network. We are constantly living in the future while we optimize the balance between the commercial requests of the schedule and the operational feasibilities. The fact that we are a point-to-point network just makes our lives as planners a lot more interesting as we solve this massive puzzle made up of at least 3000 flights a day. It is a very fulfilling job where I get to see my schedule working in the real world while making good profits for the company. I personally love working for Southwest Airlines. We, as a company, have a very different approach towards work which needs to be experienced firsthand. The culture at Southwest is outstanding, there is an excellent work-life balance, my co-workers are very friendly and the people here in general have a very positive outlook towards life. 

Many international students want to gain some work experience while in the U.S., either during their studies or after graduation.  What advice would you share with these students?

My advice to international students trying to get some work experience in the U.S.:  

  • Start early and plan ahead. This is most important.
  • Do a good amount of research about the companies that you are interested in.
  • Work closely with Career services and take advantage of the experienced counselors there.
  • Show the employer that they have a lot to gain by hiring you – not just in terms of knowledge and skill set, but also because you could bring a global perspective to their business practices and add to the diversity of the company.

You represented Southwest Airlines at the recent ERAU Industry/Career Expo.  Being on the recruiting side of the table, share a few things that stand out to you when you are talking with someone about working at Southwest.

Most students that I spoke to at ERAU seemed to have done their homework about Southwest Airlines and I definitely appreciated that. I would advise any student approaching Southwest to be confident, cheerful and have a good time. This is a company that gives importance to not only your work ethics and knowledge, but also to your all-round character.

We know that many times the education received at college is a solid foundation for the work world, but it does not completely prepare you for the career position you will have.  What skill have you found that has helped you adapt to your new position quickly?

Yes, I agree that just having a formal education does not prepare anyone for work in the real world in its entirety. However, I do believe that it is very important to have a good foundation in school as it is the basis for your thought process.  Education may not prepare you for every possible scenario, but it helps train your mind to identify the right to approach any problem.  Personally, I have found that keeping yourself up to date with the latest developments in the industry and associating how knowledge learned in the classroom could be applied to a real world problem will prepare you to hit the ground running. Also, team projects are an excellent way to learn and build on your emotional intelligence, leadership skills, time management techniques and most importantly, ability to be a team player.

Is there any other advice you would share about preparing to be successful in the work force?

Focus on the task at hand and aim to be a perfectionist. After attaining a certain level, when you are working with some of the best minds in the industry, hard work, the right attitude and good work ethic are the only things that will help you stand out in the crowd.  At the same time, don’t forget to have fun.

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.

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.

%d bloggers like this: