Back in Business: Aviation Internships Return for 2022
The pandemic’s impact on the aviation industry will likely be felt for years to come. Among the setbacks for students in the Aviation Program at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) has been a sharp decline in in the availability of internships at airports and airlines around the country. This spring, however, many of those opportunities have returned and students have been quick to take advantage.
“I joined the LRAA team at the perfect time,” says Seth Hylton, a senior Aerospace Management student and intern with the Louisville Regional Airport Authority which operations both Louisville Muhammed Ali International Airport and Bowman Field. “This internship will help me bridge the gap between my education and career goals.”
Hylton now works alongside several other EKU Aviation graduates in Louisville, much like another classmate of his just sixty miles to the east in Lexington. Nolan Francis, also a senior studying Aerospace Management, started his internship with Blue Grass Airport earlier this semester.
“When you’re surrounded by other people who are motivated in this career, it motivates you,” said Francis. “I’m now working with people who I met on campus just a couple of years ago. Everybody knows everybody in this industry, especially around here”
Both Hylton and Francis work for the operations departments at their respective airports, helping oversee major projects, ensure compliance with federal regulations, and assist customers with a variety of issues in what they both described as a “fast-paced and constantly-changing” environment.
In the case of Blue Grass Airport, more than 35 EKU students and recent graduates currently work at the facility in a variety of positions beyond just the internship itself. According to Francis, that’s no coincidence and networking as a student is the best way to get connected.
“Every day on campus or in your current job is an interview for what’s next. Take every opportunity you can to meet people, job shadow, go on trips, or whatever else you can to get your name out there. You never know when you might get that opportunity that changes everything,” he said. “You don’t want to look back thinking you missed out.”
Hylton echoed that sentiment and went on to suggest that timing can be critical.
“Networking begins the minute you start at EKU,” he advised. “Your relationships and reputation are key to advancing your career.”
Both students hope to continue their careers in airport operations following graduation, with Hylton completing his degree in May and Francis following in December.
“Nolan and Seth have done a tremendous job setting themselves up for success,” said Kyle Knezevich, a faculty member with the Aviation Program who oversees co-ops and internships. “I think a lot of our students will be following in their footsteps in the months ahead.”
Knezevich noted that prior to the pandemic, the Aviation Program averaged around eight students per semester in co-op and internship positions around the country. Many of those students work at the Central Kentucky Regional Airport, home to EKU’s flight training operations, but some have traveled as far as Jacksonville and San Diego.
“The numbers are coming back across the board,” he added. “Our partnerships, like those with Lexington and Louisville, are unique across the country. That’s what sets us apart and we are excited to keep building on that.”
For more information on the Aviation Program at EKU, visit www.aviation.eku.edu.
Published on March 27, 2022