I certainly haven’t been avoiding the topic of where I work, but I certainly haven’t addressed it either. Therefore, I guess it is time to explain how I managed to become an Aerospace Quality Engineer the second I graduated ASU.
While I refuse to read all my previous posts I’m fairly certain I’ve addressed the topic of networking and emphasized its importance. Well, that shit is no joke so I’m going to drop the wisdom bomb again. Networking is the single most important skill I took away from ASU. Meeting the right person at the right time can literally be the reason your career progresses. Mine has done the following:
2. Recruiting Assistant
4. Recruiting Assistant
5. Lead Recruiter
6. Engineering Intern
7. Quality Engineer
The step from 1 to 2 was literally because I met a woman at a bar playing pool. Steps 2 through 4 were at the same company and I had to step down due to time availability constraints. After being laid off I RAN the recruiting/staffing side of a small company while being in school. After eight months of working there the same lady I met playing pool, and had previously worked for, asked me if I would be interested in an internship at my current company. After a year and a half, and graduating school, I find myself in my current position: Quality Engineer.
If you were unable to gather the take aways from my super condensed three year story here they are: Don’t be afraid to talk to people, and ask them what they do. WORK DURING YOUR COLLEGE CAREER, that is in caps because its stupid massive important. Lastly, work hard and show your worth. Before step one I squandered a job and had to run away with my tail between my legs before they fired my ass. Don’t be a young dumb shit head, be professional, put forth an effort, and don’t burn bridges.
Instead of studying for my FAA dispatch written exam like I should be, I’m going to foolishly write this long letter to nobody. As promised in the previous post I’m going to tell you why ATC 484 (ATC Internship) and ATC 491 (ATC Capstone) are important. They’re important for more reasons than just your grade, as they will teach you real life skills and give you something to put on your resume; which I’m guessing is bare because anyone who would have found this is probably a college student with no real world work experience. Most importantly, if done correctly you can combine the two to make your life easier and compound the effect it has on your resume.
ATC 484 for me was incredibly insightful as I did my internship at the Phoenix TRACON (P50) and Tower. Obviously having open access to these facilities is incredible, and an opportunity achievable no where else in life. The internship consisted of two parts: RPO’ing in the tower simulation lab and working in the Quality Control (QC) department. While working in QC can be mundane data entry related tasks, it will teach you valuable skills (which you probably don’t have) that the entire professional world operates under. Not to sound repetitive by harping on college kids, but I feel it necessary as the emphasis will be explained at the end.
RPO’ing in the training department taught me valuable lessons that I could use towards acquiring a job as an RPO for the FAA (not directly for the FAA as they contract out those things). For me personally this would equal a downgrade from my current position. However, it is a solid back up incase where I am at currently doesn’t work out and I am unable to acquire a position in the same field. For your typical college student, I’m sure $15/hr straight out of school sounds like sex. I will eventually get to what/where it is I am currently working, I promise I am not a liar it’s just talking about work when all I do is work activates my gag reflex.
Getting back on course, now its time to talk about ATC Capstone (491), and then how they can tie together. Capstone consists of you working with an industry partner and in the most basic explanation, pitching a solution to a problem they have. For my capstone I worked with the Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC). Without getting into incredible detail I made them a way to quantify the data they collected to allow them to gauge the performance of a new program they implemented. More arrogantly speaking I created a quality control program that helps fine tune the efficiency of the entire national airspace system; doubt any other student has done anything that profound.
Stepping back off my high horse it is now that you should see the similarity between what I did for my capstone and working with the QC department for P50. The QC work fed the mind set for creating the capstone project. On top of that I was able to do quite a bit of work for my capstone during my internship. Meaning I was able to do school work during my internship. Now I can add my capstone project on my resume under the FAA Internship section, sky rocketing it upwards far above and beyond anybody else’s experience there. Which is even more important for a college student with limited professional experience to display on a resume. Hopefully that sinks in otherwise I just wasted valuable studying time.
Tomorrow marks my graded simulator evaluation for the local control position. This past week was basically taken off of work to refine my skills on the local south position. Followed by taking today off so that I could shake off the weekend rust before tomorrow. While I hope I receive local north, which only has one runway and is considerably easier for me, I don’t at the same time. While other students probably don’t feel the same, this evaluation is an important milestone. A milestone that pushes ones limits and demonstrates ones ability. Succeeding in an easier fashion will fail to do either.
Pushing my mental limits to the breaking point is in large part the reason I wish to become a controller. My sights are set on working at a high level facility, thriving within it, and eventually making my way to the command center. That being said the fear of maintaining my 4.0 GPA is outweighed by a fear of a realization of my own incompetence. I’ve completely enveloped myself to passing this evaluation, and I want and expect nothing more then to tear the shit out of the hardest problem he has.
Oh I also have a commercial stage exam tomorrow too…
Currently I’m sitting at the bar at Z-Tejas because my girlfriend is about two or three gin and tonics away from getting home, and I came up to Scottsdale early to avoid the traffic. This brings up something I should probably disclose, I’m older then your average college student. Don’t get me wrong I’m not that ancient dinosaur that happens to be lurking in one of your classes each semester. However, I am old enough to drink (by several years), and drop some wisdom on you.
If you’re reading this because you’re going to school to become a controller I’m going to assume your a youngster like most of the kids in my classes. Half these kids in my class don’t even look like they have pubes yet to be honest. I swear kids are looking younger for longer, or your ability to judge age seriously diminishes as you get older. Any ways, I guess I promised you some advise and I suppose its time to deliver on that:
Alright, because I got into the four year university game later then all my high school friends I learned some things from watching them. This is sound advise regardless of your major too, it should be disclosed to every kid before they start college. First, YOU HAVE TO NETWORK! Befriend your professors, get letters of recommendation, attend school networking events, attend any event you can to be honest. Now I believe I’ve told you that before but I feel the need to reiterate it. Secondly, take this shit seriously! Learn as much as you can, try as hard as you can. You’re paying, or your parents are paying, a lot of goddamn money for you to be there. In addition, every other person you’re sitting next to will be your competition for getting a real job once you get out.
Lastly, get your ass a job in the same industry that you’re studying in or trying to work in. This will give you a TREMENDOUS head start after school in regards to financially as well as with your future. For example, companies are coming in and pitching jobs to seniors at an hourly wage that I’m already making (minus pilots and people getting picked up of course). Now this advice to me is logically sound, I don’t see how you could disagree. However, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if I’m standing at freeway exits a year or two from now panhandling for money; maybe I’m a fucking fool.
Also, if you’re day drinking at bar don’t be the weird person chatting up the bar tender constantly. No one wants to hear your meaningless conversation, I’m here to numb myself, not dumb myself from what I hear come out of your sound hole. Plus, she probably doesn’t want to talk to you either.
Yesterday marked the last day of this semesters midterms and I’m glad that its all over. Its been an exhausting past couple of weeks, but it would appear I came out on top. I’m the only student in my ATC 431 class who received an A on the written exam. Speaking of that exam, when you look at the study guide it doesn’t seem like you need to study much but I recommend putting in some time. Its not the hardest exam but it wasn’t easy, I barely got an A on it; the closest score below me was an 84.
ATC 332 (TRACON) exam was too easy, the entire class is too easy to be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything from it really. I’m the kind of person who needs to be challenged and put under pressure to learn something. Not to sound arrogant but I’m smart enough to get through a class without really having to learn anything. Now part of me likes this, I’m already under enough pressure as it is. However, the other part of me thinks about how much fucking money I’m spending to be in there and it pisses me off that I’m wasting time and money.
Not to be disrespectful but this new professor is no Joe Gridley (previous TRACON professor). She hasn’t controlled traffic in something like a decade, and her knowledge base seems very rudimentary. It also further frustrates me that she’s more than likely going to be the one teaching me the en route class as well. To be honest, I feel like almost writing a letter to the head of the department and complaining about the price with respect to the qualifications of the person teaching the class. Now I will say these feelings are all preliminary, I’ve yet to see her in the simulator; hopefully she proves me wrong.
Here I am, another early morning at a coffee shop studying for this weeks two midterms before work. Thankfully these two are my last two, and they include the written portion of ATC441 and ATC332’s midterm. Of the three I took last week Aviation Law (AMT442) was by far the most brutal; to be honest it wasn’t very fair. However, he supposedly examines the entire classes results and curves according. Therefore I’m not to concerned, but we’ll have to see what happens.
Yesterday I finally reached out to my friend who is in the academy. Astonishingly he’s already on his final performance assessment this week; this means he’s at the end and it is make or break time. I have no doubt he’ll pass, and thankfully it sounds like he’ll be able to choose a facility that is not only close to his home but is also an up down. We talked a bit about how hard it is to maintain faith that you’ll get picked up by the FAA, and it was pretty enlightening.
When you get towards the end of your schooling you have to start focusing on laying a foundation for your backup career plan(s). Doing this really shines the light on the fact that never becoming a controller is a real possibility. Which in turn chips away at the blind faith of “I’ll get picked up if I keep trying.” This is especially hard when you finally get to the point you’ve been waiting years and years for: when you start running problems on the simulator. Here I am finally controlling airplanes but outside of the simulator I’m focused on how I’m going to establish connections to help a future career of airline dispatching propagate. I’m just glad to hear he went through the same thing, and I suspect that this is probably a feeling shared by all ATC students who are rational enough to set backups in place.
Needless to say when you start to let the self doubt of never being able to achieve your dream accumulate, it hurts. Unfortunately this breach appears to be unavoidable, and I suspect you just need to grab a bucket and start shoveling the self doubt overboard before the ship takes on too much and sinks. Let’s just hope the rate at which I’m shoveling is faster then the leak.
November 29th, 2015 17:02
Well an update on the scholarship situation is probably needed first to keep the flow of things. I was denied that internship a week or two ago. It appears my social skills weren’t enough to carry me through lack of simulator experience and having missed one of the interview questions. However, given what my schedule looks like for next semester I cannot be to upset; I probably would have had to decline the offer anyways due to work and school. If I do this internship it will probably have to be during the summer.
With that out of the way I can bring us back up to speed to real time. I just spent the last 3 or so hours studying the bible (7110.65). Honestly, I should have started studying for the local control final the second we finished the ground mid-term. If you are an ASU CTI student I suggest you do the same; which I know is more difficult then it sounds. I can sit here and preach about being anti-procrastination all day long but I’ll probably still do it. Any ways, rules regarding SRS and Wake Turbulence are rather complex and annoying, and to top it off you need to know something like 40+ aircraft and their corresponding SRS and wake turbulence rankings. This is what I see presenting the largest threat to my final grade.
Unfortunately, thats not the only final I’ve got on my scope that presents a conflict. My instrument ground final (AMT 222) is promising to be a nasty situation too. The final consists of all the chapters (I don’t even want to know how large of a fucking question bank that makes) and its 100 questions. I’m going to be relying heavily upon recalling this semesters previous experience with this one; there is just to many questions to study for to try and study for the entire test out of the Gliem book. I’ll have to pick and choose what spot to hone in on and refine.
Again, I haven’t been writing enough; I’m getting lazy and I need to focus. A lot has been happening in my life and I will try to address it all when I have more time once the semesters over.
September 8th, 2015 21:49 (If I have a date first, this is when I wrote it or started writing it. Sometimes I get pulled away and don’t get back to it for a day or two.)
Lately I’ve been a networking machine and I need to start cashing in on the people that I’ve met. Recently I got a hold of the Chief Pilot for Horizon airlines business card and he said he could put me in touch with the dispatching office. I’ve done the same with Mesa Airlines but have yet to actually try and do anything with them. Also, I need to catch up with my controller friend at DVT and schedule another visit. If I were a smarter man I’d of had it set up this weekend so I could use it to prep for my ATC 331 exam; definitely going to try and do this for the midterm. I also need to get in contact with the manager of Falcon Field tower and get a tour there, I’m pretty much a mess.
Just the other day I submitted an application for a career shadowing program that is set up between ASU, the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, and various businesses/companies. After some research I found the business for the aviation sector was previously Lockheed Martin. Seeing as the engineering/recruiting company I work for doesn’t have connections with this company, I figured this could be a chance to not only get my foot in the door somewhere else but also get my companies foot in the door and purpose the idea of us doing their contract staffing. Therefore, I had my boss go over my application and resume with me last friday before I submitted it to give me the best possible chance. In all honesty I feel pretty confident about it, most students don’t have the resume I have.
So last night I met my girlfriends parents for the first time, and it went incredibly well. However, I had no doubt that it would because I am incredibly good at getting peoples parents to like me. Some people may not feel so confident about doing this though, and I understand that. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. So here is how to make your girlfriends parents like you:
1. Don’t be a mouth-breather, dress appropriately. This is almost a job interview in a sense, they are going to judge you right away. I may dress like the Big Lebowski 90% of the time but I know when I can’t (for the most part).
2. Be prepared to explain what you’re going to school for, or what you do for a living. I’d bet my left testicle that they will ask you this question. Thankfully, if you’re reading this you’re probably trying to become a controller so you can dazzle them with the complexity of the NAS and the seriousness of what being a controller means. Don’t waste this opportunity, it can make you come off as a total badass who’s got their shit together. You can make kids in medical school sound like a bunch of pussies.
2 1/2. After having explained the above state how this is helping you accomplish your goals/dreams. Her parents want to know your not a deadbeat and have plan in life.
3. Try and make the meeting as informal as possible (that doesn’t mean you can dress like a bum). Avoid a restaurant, go the dinner route party.
4. Ask them about what they do, and if its not interesting fake an interest (thankfully I didn’t have to fake it).
5. Most importantly: relax. Even if you do care what they think of you, convince yourself you don’t; just make sure to be respectful.
Having a controller mentor while you go through school is extremely important. For me, it has provided a vast amount of invaluable knowledge that I have used in school. Learning about control tower operations in a classroom, and actually being shown it first hand are two totally different things. Not only that, but having a mentor allows you to truly see what it is like being a controller. My mentor(s) don’t bullshit me when it comes to the nitty gritty side of being a controller.
So how do you go about getting one? Like the post before said: NETWORK! Mine stopped by in a class I had my first semester to talk about what a day in the life of a controller is like. Afterwards, I talked with her after class and got her information. Don’t be afraid to ask people for things, worse they can do is say no.
Here is a link with some more tips and information regarding mentors that I read a while back and liked.