By Gentry Bennett
Almost a year ago, I applied for an internship. A total shot in the dark, I never thought I would make it to the second round. Next thing I know, I am being flown out for an in-person interview, the last of four round. Normally, being flown out would cost a company a lot of money...but not Southwest Airlines. A few weeks later I received the call of my life. I immediately cancelled the interview I had the next morning because I was officially accepted to the No Limits Internship Program at Southwest Airlines Headquarters in Dallas, Texas (now known as the Campus Reach Program).
Everything felt surreal at first, and on my first day I smiled ear to ear as I pulled in and told the security agent “I’m an Intern here.” It felt surreal as I got to meet the 128 other Interns in the summer program, my managers and the folks I would be working with every day. At some point in my 12 weeks I began to feel at home- it’s hard to say when or how, but Southwest Airlines affects it’s Employees in the best way possible.
Excited to go to work each day, I was always working on something new. The Listening Center became my home, and the people in it became my family. Less than a year old, the Listening Center is a state-of-the-art social listening and analysis center. With eight large screen monitors on the wall, Employees working in the Listening Center (including myself!) were able to keep the pulse on what is happening in the world, the airline industry and within Southwest’s network. I was able to immediately see trends, conceive reports on activation of those trends and better asses how Southwest activates on trends.
Of course, working at Southwest Airlines isn’t all business. On Mondays, when 5 o’clock hits, Employees head to the Deck to go to the weekly Deck Party. Live bands, themed food and drink and plenty of laughs fill the outdoor space. From the Deck, you can see all of the Southwest aircraft taking off and touching down at Dallas Love Field Airport. On Friday, Interns and Employees alike head to the airport with high hopes they can be on one of those planes. My dream internship got even better when I found out I would get free standby flights!
Five days a week, I was grinning and ready to pour out my heart and soul in to Southwest Airlines and spreading the LUV airline’s message. The other two days a week? I was jet-setting across the country, gaining new perspective and meeting new people.
The Social Media Certificate helped me to gain my dream internship at Southwest Airlines. Having the certificate on my resume meant I got noticed in the pool of over 14,000 applications for 128 Summer 2015 internship positions. I was able to apply knowledge I gained from my classes when we discussed utilizing new social medias likelive streaming apps. I had never used these apps before, but had the knowledge to apply to my internship position to help Southwest Airlines with their social business strategy. Overall, the Social Media Certificate has helped me not only gain my dream internship but excel while working there.
There’s nothing like working at Southwest, and if I took anything away from the experience it’s that it never hurts to apply. When you see your dream, shoot for it! I did, and it paid off big time.