My last semester at ERAU is finally coming to an end. After four years and four different flight ratings, I will be graduating this May. The thought of graduating hasn’t hit me yet, because of how unique this year has been with the pandemic. Unfortunately, the graduation will not be in person, and the ceremony will be held virtually. It is a bit disappointing to end a huge chapter of my life with a virtual presentation, but I’m excited for what will come next. I finished my last flight course, which is the multi-engine add-on rating this March, and my application for graduation was accepted.
This semester has definitely been a challenge for a lot of us as our breaks (three-day weekends and the spring break) were all taken away in order to prevent students from traveling during a pandemic. As a result of this, many of the students are burned out and exhausted from school and flying. There is still a month of school left and quite frankly, I am looking forward to being done in May. It is critical to balance work and play, especially when you can’t hang out with friends as freely as you used to before the pandemic. Many of my friends and I discuss how exhausted we are, and I keep telling them to focus on their personal mental health rather than overworking themselves.
My plan for after graduating is currently to work towards getting my Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) license in order to teach people how to fly while building my hours for the regionals. I want to spend some time off in the summer and hopefully travel around the country to visit friends and family now that the country is slowly opening up. I am also planning on getting my vaccine soon, and I encourage everyone else to go get theirs.
It’s a unique situation I find myself in as a college graduate from the pandemic class. However, I like to stay optimistic as the world and the aviation industry slowly recovers, and I hope that things will go back to how it was before 2020. Our awesome campus doesn’t feel normal as it isn’t as full and alive as it used to be.
Almost anyone I talk to about my future career, they often ask me these two questions. Why do you want to become a pilot / what made you choose this career? Which airline do you want to work for? In today’s blog, I will be sharing my answers to these two questions.
Why do you want to become a pilot?
I am currently studying to become an airline pilot so my specific program is called the restricted Airline Transport Pilot/ Certified Training Program (R-ATP/CTP). What this means is that once I graduate with all my hours and my Bachelor’s degree of aeronautical science, I have some options of working either as a commercial pilot, flight instructor or an airline pilot. Who knows what my future will look like especially with the pandemic situation, but my ultimate goal is to become an airline pilot. When I was a child, I loved cars and animals. I had boxes full of toy cars and everyone around me knew that I was always surrounded by cars. As I entered middle school, my interest shifted towards airplanes and helicopters. I often drew sketches of military jets and helicopters and I also collected miniature airplane models. However, aside from these hobbies, I didn’t have a any close family member who was in the Air Force or the airlines that I grew up looking up to. My only exposure to flying in general was the experience I had traveling abroad with my family.
During high school, we had college representatives visit our school once a year to promote and guide students in their college application process. One day, a college rep was standing in the lobby of my school with a campus map of a university that was placed right next to a runway. At first, I thought that map was the coolest thing since the rep also had small plane models sitting on the table. Her name was Terra (who is the international recruiter for ERAU Daytona Beach) and that’s when my story with Embry-Riddle began. Long story short, I got accepted to Embry-Riddle and I started attending this university from 2017. After spending almost four years at Riddle now, I am still fully committed to the future career of flying.
My first flight in a small single-engine aircraft came a few days after my first day of class. The university really got us into these planes from day 1 and we have been building hours ever since. The view from my “classroom” is absolutely stunning every single day, as we coast along the shorelines of Florida in our Cessna 172s. Flying above the clouds really changes your perspective and you start to realize how small the world is. To be able to look out the small window of your two-seater airplane and see the roads you take every morning commuting, and the Target store around the corner of your neighborhood, it’s an eye-opening experience.
I wanted to travel since I was young and traveling has always been part of my life. Before I heard about Embry-Riddle, my desired major was political science and international affairs where I was going to choose the path of a diplomat and pursue my passion for history, foreign affairs and diplomacy. This option would also give me a chance to travel the world with the help of the government. Either way, I wanted to travel the world and experience different lifestyles across the glove. I just thought traveling by flying an airplane in cool uniforms would be a better option.
What airline do you want to work for?
Some of my peers at the university have everything planned out already. One wants to intern with company X, get hired by them and one day become a captain of an A321 flying from Los Angeles to Atlanta. One wants to become a cargo pilot working out of Anchorage for company X or Y. Then there’s me. “I would gladly fly planes for any company who wants to hire me!”
I thought I had a plan set out, but I also realized that life is very good at altering your plan without notice. Take the pandemic for example, where thousands of already-flying pilots were furloughed and the aviation industry was substantially impacted. If I learned anything from these trying times, I decided to stay even more open minded because things can go out of plan really quickly. My friends are already looking into their dream airlines’ commuting distances, health care benefits, company culture, scheduling, etc. I do believe that being proactive and planning your future is important. However, I just want to focus on my study and enjoy what I have going on at the moment. I always thought it was better to be more spontaneous than having everything planned out.
It’s definitely a new lifestyle that the world had to adapt to with a pandemic and especially in the aviation side of it, people and companies are hurting. However, I don’t want to discourage the current and future pilots as we will recover from this over time. It would be a great time for us to look at alternative paths and plan B, C, D, etc. It’s important to do the research and explore other parts of flying as a career so you don’t find yourself stuck on a single path that you’ve been relying on for so long. Fly safe!
Happy September everyone! I am currently blogging from the road to Daytona Beach, FL navigating a half online semester half in-person semester in the midst of a global pandemic and it’s interesting to say the least. The first official day of Fall is Tuesday, September 22, 2020 and I’m looking forward to that.
Three day weekends have been canceled this semester as we aren’t coming back to campus post-Thanksgiving for finals season. Which takes the joy out of looking for a short break every few weeks and transforms the semester into more of an ultramarathon, with no breaks! Pandemic navigation on campus during these new unprecedented times can be challenging to say the least.
Things that have been keeping me sane throughout the pandemic are splurging on little self care luxuries like:
Setting technology boundaries! Try not to check your phone after a certain time every evening, or at least try to distance yourself from it directly before you go to bed.
I’ve been forcing myself to do a lot more yoga and be super compassionate with myself on days when my energy isn’t extremely high.
Trying to eat a balanced diet! Fresh fruits and veggies are extremely important and food effects how your body feels, your mood, and your energy.
I bought a fall essential oil to diffuse in my room and make my space more cozy and peaceful. Autumn is my favorite season and I love all the colors and flavors that go along with it, so Plant Therapy’s Maple Leaf Essential Oil Blend was a no brainer for me, especially considering how often I use and appreciate it.
Since I’m in AFROTC my nail polish has to be conservative and compliment my skin tone, thankfully I am still slightly sun kissed from summer so I got a cozy burnt orange fall Essie color that makes me really happy when I’m wearing it, which coincidentally was inspired by bazaars in Morocco (where I was supposed to study abroad this past summer).