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Given I’m so new into my aviation career, I’m hoping there will be some parallels in our journeys so far. If you’d like some support and advice from one young professional to another – I’m here for you.
Let’s talk graduate programmes. Most organisations offer these schemes and, speaking from my own experience, they’re worth it. Graduates are valued because of the fresh perspective they can offer a business with current knowledge and expertise. We’re not expected to know the answer to everything but rather have the tenacity to learn and enable our organisation to excel.
On a rotational programme, you will likely spend time (dependent on length of programme) in diverse areas of the business. Not only does this give you experience and skills in an abundance of different activities, you also have the exposure and ability to build a network with many teams.
If you’re unsure what type of role you want within this industry, a rotational programme would give you the flexibility to try a number of roles. You can test your suitability and enjoyability within each role.
In contrast, if you already know the job you want, ask yourself − what are the skills I need to get me there? A graduate programme may well support you in gathering the expertise you need.
For example, in order to pursue the career I want within airports, I know I need to garner skills in the following areas:
1. Operations – they make our business function and support our customers who are at the heart of what we do.
2. Business Change − the ability to adapt and respond to ever changing environments.
3. Management – managing my own team.
Having enrolled on a graduate programme, I’m granted the opportunity to learn the above and pursue whichever area I love, following the scheme completion.
For me personally, so far I’ve been in a customer service operational role. I then seconded out of the business to pursue a great opportunity (more on that in a moment!), and now I’m within the Aviation team: the bread and butter to an airport. This demonstrates the diversity of opportunities and depth of knowledge that can be gained in just 18 months.
I would be doing you a disservice if I told you that recruitment processes are easy, but what I will tell you is that you are so capable and deserving of this opportunity. Although this is my graduate programme recruitment journey, many of the steps below are applicable to most jobs. Let me highlight below the 5-step process I undertook and some tips to excel!
1. Online application: be sure to check regularly for opening and closing dates. Keep your documents up to date so you’re ready to submit sooner rather than later.
2. Online tests: they check your suitability for the role. In my experience they were situational and mathematical based questions. Understanding the role you are applying for and the organisation’s activities will help predict the type of tests you may be given.
3. Video interview: this is the first time they’ll see you – so dress smart, and it will put you in the appropriate frame of mind. Make sure the background is clear so to not distract you or the interviewer. Speak clearly and let your personality shine through. For other tips, click here.
4. Telephone interview: remember the interviewer's name − being personable makes you remember-able! Make sure to have a notepad and pen so you can jot down anything you want to say or may need to remember. Don’t forget to smile. They won’t see it – but you will feel it. For other tips, click here.
5. Assessment centre: these are usually a mix of group and individual activities as well as a personal face-to-face interview. Again, be yourself. Nobody is you, and that is your power! Demonstrate your ability to work within a team; interviewers are not just assessing WHAT you are doing, but HOW you are doing it. You will also likely be asked a lot of situational questions such as, “give an example of when…” Be sure to consider your examples in preparation. The STAR method is a great way to frame these answers, see more here.
YOU’VE GOT THIS!
The industry is so vast, and there are endless opportunities for growth and development. I encourage you to chase every opportunity and immerse yourself in everything that comes your way. Just a couple of things to consider along the way:
Do you want to learn about a particular department? Ask them to spare half an hour for a coffee to learn about their role. People love sharing what they do, particularly with those eager to learn. I arranged circa 25 meetings when I first joined the business, and now, 2 years on, I’ve worked with each of those people both directly and indirectly.
Has an opportunity popped up too good to miss? Speak to the relevant management and highlight how this opportunity would further your development and go for it! That is the beauty of early career employment. For example, I applied for a secondment opportunity, which not only led to an amazing overseas trip to China, but I was able to demonstrate by capabilities to other colleagues which landed me my current role in aviation.
If you are considering a graduate programme, or any other early employment opportunities, and need some further advice or guidance, please reach out. Fresh from academia myself, and a current graduate programme employee, it’d be comforting for us both to just chat.
If you are worried about early career employment during the pandemic, I’ve written another post titled Post COVID-19 Employment.
Take care and best of luck,