Finishing at Delta

Delta Air Lines, Inc. has been a world of opportunity that I have been privileged to work with and for. It is with a heavy heart that I leave this company after such a short time but I have other duties to fulfill as a student and hopefully, someday, I will be back as a pilot for this wonderful company. For now however, I leave this company excited for the future and with a forever burning passion for the world of aviation. Overall, this internship has an opportunity of a lifetime.
worked with me at Delta Air Lines to help me succeed at my position.

To begin with, I first got to Delta Air Lines, Inc. by working hard, pursuing my dream of flying for a major airline, and setting my goals in advance. Since I first heard of the Delta Air Lines internship, I was driven and determined to try my best to become part of the Delta Legacy. I kept on working hard and checking the Delta careers website every week for an update and a posting of the application to their summer internship. I remembered that in the fall when I met the then current intern for Flight/Line Operations at Delta, and he told me that I had to get in contact with my Career services advisor to get in touch with Delta. I did just that as soon as the internship posted. He had just seen the new posting when he received my email. Immediately we got the process going. I gathered letters of recommendations, transcripts, resumes, copies of my flight certificates, cover letters, and reference sheets to mail off to Delta. Within two days I had everything put together. I must thank my advisors and anyone who helped me in writing very generous letters of recommendations. I sent my packet in via email and mail and the wait begun.

It was a long wait before I got the call for a telephone interview. This didn’t happen before emailing my career services advisor about what I should do since I hadn’t heard back from Delta during the much needed spring break. Literally the Monday after spring break, I got a phone call. I was in the middle of a pre brief before a flight when I received the call. I didn’t answer then since I was about to go fly but right after I checked my voicemail. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was driving home and as soon as I heard that they wanted to set up a telephone interview, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was screaming with joy and was literally bouncing in my seat with excitement. I even texted my flight instructor to let him know what the call during our brief was about. I called back immediately but since Prescott, AZ was 3 hours behind at the time, it was past business time in Atlanta. I didn’t leave a voicemail but I decided to set my alarm at 5:30am the next day so I could prepare myself and call Delta at 9:00am eastern time, 6:00am Prescott time, to talk and set up a telephone interview. I called and set it up. It was set for a Monday a week away from the call.

I began to gather as much info as I could and began to prepare myself for this. If I didn’t pass this, I was done for and would not get offered a personal interview, let alone a position as an intern. The date came and I had a flight. I made sure that my instructor knew that I was not available to fly during my times of the telephone interview but we still managed to squeeze a flight in before. I got back and sat in my car waiting for the call. It was set 12:30pm and right at 12:30pm, my phone rings. It was a text form my brother asking a random question. After my anxiousness went away, and after telling my brother I would call him in a bit, my telephone rings. This was the real deal. Five people took part on this interview. Pedro Coracides, Laura Parnell, John Reese, Justin McCollum, and Jason Schlup. The phone call went well but I stuttered quite a bit. I do have a stuttering problem that I have learned how to manage but that day it was coming back out. After I was mentioned that I was really nervous and stuttering quite a bit, it was all ok. I was speaking, still slightly stuttering, but making sense. Nevertheless, after the telephone interview, I still felt like I could have done better even though I felt that I had given it my best.

I wait overnight and sure enough, the very next day, I get a call in the morning and it was Delta. They were offering me a chance for a personal interview. I gave them dates that I could travel and then waited for them to call me back to confirm my interview date. It was finally set for April 14th. Meanwhile, I began to prepare myself for the next and final step to possibly getting to my goal that I set myself for the summer; an internship at Delta Air Lines, Inc. I remember that they day of my trip, I mentioned to a few friends that I didn’t want to go anymore because I was so scared. After a little talking, I got the courage to finally get into my car and drive to Phoenix (I was still going to go regardless whether I had the courage or not, I was just really scared). I travel, get to Atlanta, and finally meet Justin McCollum. He picked me up from the airport and took back to the Delta Air Lines, Inc. World Headquarters. I sat in my future cubicle and waited for my interview. Finally it was underway. I was as sincere and straight as possible. I admitted my mistakes with previous positions that I have held but turned them into a learning experience. I spoke as best as I could, and enjoyed the interview. Afterwards however, I felt a little uneasy. Even though I thought I did a fairly good job, I was feeling really anxious. I could not tell whether it was going to be a great outcome or not. We went into a simulator afterwards and relaxed a bit. Soon after, and by that I mean a four hour flight later, I was back in Phoenix. The drive back to Prescott was rewarding. I was being really optimistic and telling myself that even if I didn’t get the internship, I gave it my best. It was still very nerve racking nevertheless.

It was a week later and I was having lunch with my friend when I got a call from and unknown number. I immediately new it was Delta. I picked up and almost choked on the food that I was eating with the news I heard. I was offered the internship! Right away, I accepted it. I called my parents, bother, everyone I could think off to spread the good news! I was so excited I again couldn’t contain myself. After all the joy and celebration, it was time to prepare for the internship. I found a place to live, got my stuff ready, and made my way to Atlanta. Of course, this wasn’t after stopping by Denver to visit my home, family and friends. I finally made it to Atlanta and the first day of the internship began. I realize that the first couple of pages did not prove or discuss anything from the required points that the Internship Student Handbook said however, it was important to set the mood of the paper to understand what my attitude was coming into this internship. This will be compared to my final attitude of the internship.

The internship began and the first feeling I got from it was, “Oh my goodness, this is going to be interesting.” By this I mean that we were getting the fire hose training course and soon I realized that this job was not one that I could just sit back and let things happen. This was going to be a job that I had to be immersed in the middle of the mayhem of paperwork, long days, stress, overload, and passion for the world of aviation. My duties consisted of doing Jumpseat authorization letters, assisting the 767/757 fleet managers with any task necessary, assisting in new approach testing, at the beginning before they went automated Israeli smart cards, and aiding in Pilot Selection.

At first, the internship was pretty straightforward and easy for what I had to do. Mostly paperwork and office duties so nothing too complicated. In fact, I was a little jealous how one of the other interns got to be the point of contact and give simulator tours, and the other got to do approach testing in the simulators for a project. I thought to myself on why do the other inters get a cooler job than me? This was of course before my main task for the summer started, aiding with Pilot Selection. Before that however, I began by doing Israeli Smart Cards.

Every Captain for any Delta flight flying into Israel must be registered with the Israeli government before they takeoff. They do this by activation their Israeli Smart Card. The way that the pilots use this card is, whenever they are approaching Israeli airspace, they call in for a clearance. His/Her clearance will include items like flight number, name of the Captain, destination, and Israeli Smart Card registration number. Once the pilots give them their number, this lets the Israeli government know that the flight is under control and that not this is unusual and no threat of terrorism. This was a simple task but nevertheless important. I worked with Andrew Fellers, Special Assignments Supervisor and 767 Pilot for Delta Air Lines, Inc. in which he guided me, helped me, and gave me insightful and positive criticism throughout my duties. A special assignment supervisor (SAS) is a pilot for Delta that also likes to be in an office and work more regular hours for personal or other reasons. This will be discussed later as this paper concludes. Staying organized was very important in this task and I am glad that learning this skill at Embry-Riddle helped me in this. I was also able to exercise self-supervision and Andrew Fellers has way too many things in his plate to be holding my hand through the process. Of course, if I had any questions, Andrew was always available for help. The few times that he wasn’t, he asked his boss to fill in and he also gladly helped me out.

An on going task that I have had throughout my entire internship has been processing Jumpseat Letters of Authorization from the Chief Pilot and V.P. of Flying Operations Capt. Jim Graham. I was in charge of getting the paperwork ready for processing, process it, and input it into the system. It was very simple but when you consider the facts that there are many people who want to jumpseat but don’t have the proper authorization, some that want to jumpseat don’t have enough sponsorship, or some that shouldn’t even be requesting privileges, this task becomes a little complicated. I had to use all the knowledge and decision making on how to go about processing certain letters and also playing a little of the office politics on figuring out who was going to sponsor certain letters. Nothing damaging or deceiving, just knowing when to step away from a situation and letting higher management take care of some issues.

An example of this was this one individual who was requesting the jumpseat but did not work for Flight Operations. The rules state that anyone working at Flight Ops is entitled to jumpseat privileges but other employees needed to have a purpose for their request. This individual, who did not work for Flight Ops, was so persistent and demanding about his letter that I elevated the issue with my boss, Laura Parnell, who then in turn spoke with his boss. In the end, he was finally granted privileges but before I could put his information into the system and file a copy of his letter, he took his letter of my desk when I was not there and walked away. I found out about this and called him on his cell phone and asked him to bring the letter back. He did, and I filled it and entered his information and he finally went his way. My co-workers heard me on this and after the individual left, congratulated me on how good of a job I did sticking to the right rules and doing it in a professional manner. This was all done on my own supervision and I felt that my co-workers noticing reinforced the trust that they have in me to supervise myself in later projects. This was great preparation to my biggest project of the summer.

Pilot Selection began on June 23 by having the first eight candidates interview for a position as a pilot for Delta Air Lines, Inc. Five made it out of that and now they are waiting for August 16 to come for their new hire class to start.

I wasn’t be involved in any of the decision making process but I was involved in keeping track of the candidates, making sure that their paperwork is in place, and administer the MMPI-2 test for the candidates that have been given a conditional job offer. I got to be part of the unique opportunity of how the interview process occurs at Delta and a huge insight on possible career paths that will hopefully eventually lead me back to Delta but this time as a pilot.

This task was the one that I was most involved in and got the most from. During this project, I took direction from the Pilot Selection Manager with tasks big or small. Tasks such as making a sing for the office or as much as taking full control of day 2 of interviewing for the candidates that passed day 1. Day 2 of interviewing consisted of the physical and psychological testing mentioned earlier but the point to this is the I was given full authority to coordinate shuttles/rides, plan the schedule, supervise the new pilot hires, make decisions on operational issues, and propose solutions to improving the system or dealing with problems.

My job as a Senior Tour Guide at Embry-Riddle and my classes in business administration also at Embry-Riddle prepared me in the organization, planning, and coordination of all the events of Day 2. The business class helped me because I used a model that I learned in my BA201 class with Mr. Richard Gibson that helped plan projects out for completion. The only difference is that the project had to be complete in one day (Day 2). This was really useful because I came up with scenarios for the many situations that could occur as just used their model for the different days.

During that month long process, there were several problems that had to be dealt with in order to get the interview process to run smoother. The first one was with the contract shuttle that was used for taking the pilots from place to place. Form the beginning, there was no flexibility in the pick up schedule. The main point of contact was never into the project, never paid attention, and never communicated with his own staff. There were a couple of events that I had to elevate to my supervisor because they were just not up to the quality, service, and flexibility that we needed. Also, the main point of contact was not the professional type leading to several disagreements between him and me. Luckily, I saved every voicemail, and email and when to my boss, Laura, about it, who had also dealt with this issue with him before, I was able to back my case up for the good of the company. The entire shuttle service was running well except for this one individual. My proposition was to take him out of the process and have me deal with the shuttle dispatch directly. After it was approved, many of these issues went away. There were still two occasions where there were technical issues that were out of our control but we both worked together to make the day work.

Another issue was the pilots’ physical appointments. They were scheduled for 1 hour each but began to notice that some were taking up to 3 hours for no reason at all. After 2 days of this, me and another intern went to the clinic to speak with the coordinators there to figure out a better way to go about the physicals. We didn’t go and accuse them of anything but instead we just went create suggestions and solutions for everyone. I was a little scared about this since I had no time to ask my boss whether it was ok for me to talk to them or not but it turned out to be one of my best decisions at Delta. All the wrinkles were ironed out and we had no further problems with this.

The last major issue was the way that the files were being kept for any pilot being interviewed. Some paperwork was missing, some in the wrong files that I was afraid of some candidates or Delta be put in a position they do not want to be. I brought this problem up to my boss and the manager of Pilot Selection, Capt. Paul Repp, and I decided to do a huge audit of every file, organize them, and then send them over to Human Resources for processing. Even though this was a great plan, moving all of the files still cause some power struggle issues where the interns were stuck in the middle. I get a call one morning during the MMPI-2 test for the new hires. It was the HR personnel in charge of pilot hiring demanding the files back to her office. I told her that I needed to get prior approval from my boss but yet, she still wanted them in her office. My boss was out of the office that day so she said that she was going to call the Chief Pilot and V.P. of Flying Operations Capt. Jim Graham to get approval. I told her that whatever he said it was between them, and that I was just following directions. Turns out she never called him but instead call his Administrative Assistant and told her to tell the other interns to bring the files down to HR. The other inters talked to one of our supervisors who then called our on her cell phone and told her everything. In the end, our boss and the HR representative met and they discussed what we were doing with the files and what was going to happen to them.

I was very surprised with the level of respect, authority, self-empowerment, and responsibility that I was given in this project. My training as a Tour Guide and my business classes definitely help me play the politics well on this and helped me excel in situations that I had never been put before. I was so involved and knowledgeable in this process that my boss wants me to come back when they do their Pilot Selection de-brief to talk and suggest improvements. I essentially have an opinion of the Delta Pilot Selection Process for future interviews.

Right after Pilot Selection, I began to work on the simulator project that I had discussed in my mid-term report. The project was to build training scenarios with simulator technicians and instructors and then load them into the FMS for the Boeing 767-400 aircraft Level-D Simulator. I would have not been able to complete this project if it wasn’t for my classes in Domestic and International Navigation with Paul Amen, and my Electronic Flight Management class with Ray Bedard. It was really cool to see everything that I thought was confusing in class in action. It was like seeing the pieces from a puzzle fall together into place. My abilities in doing such allowed me to complete the project in 2 days and ready for review by the required personnel and ultimately the FAA for approval. I had a lot of fun with this and I further understood international flight plans and FMS databases. I also able to exercise my skill with the FMS as I helped one of the other interns with her RNAV approach testing.

One privilege that I got to have was jumpseating. I jumpseated everywhere in the country to cities like Seattle, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Denver, San Juan, PR, Buffalo, and Atlanta. Going to these many different cities, I was able to jumpseat of aircraft like Boeing-737, 757, 767, and 777 and the Airbus 320. The coolest part about all this was being able to apply all of my instrument training, flying knowledge, FMS knowledge, and just basic common sense to the operation of a flight. I was also able to get a huge insight on how an airline pilot thinks, always thinking about the passengers and the safe completion of the flight. Also, being able to jumpseat on many different aircraft allowed me to see that similarities and differences in procedures. Of course the buttons and the flows are a little different per aircraft but the theory is the same. Read verify method with a challenge and a correct response, made it seem really similar to the way that Embry-Riddle does its checklists.

Overall, the internship was really fun and very educational. The biggest con was that it was so short, and the biggest pro was how involved interns are in day-to-day operations. Of course the travel benefits were amazing allowing me to travel for the first time to the Eastern Hemisphere to places like Madrid, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, and Munich. Among others were Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Cozumel, New York, and San Francisco.

This internship has made me slightly re-evaluate ways that I will achieve my goals of being an airline pilot. I have begun to look at the possibility of the Air National Guard, reinforced me getting my CFI/II, and rekindle my passion for aviation. People like Paul Repp, Laura Parnell, Beth Poole, Rossane McGuiness, Ed Geiger, Baker Stearns, Pat Guilfoil, Dean McGregor, Jon Martin, Pedro Coracides, and Jeff Anderson really helped me a lot make the most of my internship. I am really going to miss this job but I promise that I will be back to Delta Air Lines, Inc. or an equivalent airline of the same stature as this wonderful company. I leave this company excited for the future and with a forever burning passion for the world of aviation. Overall, this internship was an opportunity of a lifetime.

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