So what does it take to make your mark in the world of aviation and aerospace? It’s all about having a flexible, hardworking, “can do” attitude while being as resilient and proactive as possible. And if you really want to make your mark, copious quantities of passion for your chosen field goes a long way.
By Stacy Bradshaw
This was the overriding message conveyed by a selection of industry experts during Wings and Helicopters third annual Careers in Aviation Expo Saturday, February 7 at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. Some 160 air cadets, high school and college students and career seekers descended on the iconic site for a fast-paced day of learning, education and more.
“I think one of the great things about this event is it gives students of all levels a chance to learn about a variety of aviation and aerospace careers all in one spot,” said Glen Lynch, president and CEO of Montreal-based GAL Aerospace, one of the panelists in the afternoon session concentrating on varied aviation professions. One of the things that the team at Wings and Helicopters has done so effectively here is bring together experts in a variety fields to show students that there a whole selection of professions out there to chose from. Yes, there are certainly pilots, but there are many other options as well.”
The day-long event feature four educational panels including helicopter and fixed wing pilots of varying disciplines; education and flight training; various aviation professional such as TSB inspector, air traffic controller, aviation sales, marketing and more; and maintenance and aerospace opportunities and educational paths.
The day also featured countless networking opportunities for young adults, as panelists and exhibitors shared key industry information with young aviators. Students also had the opportunity to tour the fabulous Warplane Heritage Museum site and hop aboard a Pilatus PC-12NG, a mainstay in many Canadian operator fleets.
Topics of discussion throughout the day ran the gamut, including cost of education for an aviation education, what skills students need to succeed in their given field of choice, hot trends in the industry, challenges students might need to anticipate and overcome, opportunities for women in aviation, composite technology and the skills needed to work with new materials and so much more. Students even had the opportunity to meet and listen to a real rocket scientist – MDA’s Natalie Panek, who made several astute points about how young women can make their mark in the industry.
One of the key messages reinforced throughout the day by panelists was aspiring students need to differentiate themselves from their competition through out all stages of career development. Volunteering, finding ways to make your mark with an aviation operation, augmenting your development in any way – it all sets you apart from the competition when you are just starting out. Having ample amounts of passion for your chosen field was also a common theme.
“Differentiating yourself and showing that passion, any way that you can get ahead in someone’s eyes will go a long way in your development,” said Mike Schuster, a captain with Porter airlines and the founder/director of operations with Aviation Solutions, a company designed to help aviation firms enhance operations. “You really stand out in your career development at all levels when you do those extra things. If that means in your first job your day is done, but you are out there helping someone else tie down an airplane and secure it for the night or you are handy with books and you offer your boss the chance to help out with the manuals – anything that can help you make a mark, do it. It’s all word of mouth in this industry, it’s very small, everyone knows one another.
Future aviation professionals might also want to concentrate on developing their math skills and also pay close attention to soft skills such as the ability to cooperate, their ability to work well as a team, and the ability to adapt and be flexible in all aspects of career and work opportunities.
The CIA Expo in Hamilton was just one of three careers events Wings and Helicopters team will be hosting in 2015. On Saturday, February 21, the team descended on Ottawa for its second event of the year at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. On Saturday, April 11, the team sets up in Calgary at the Calgary Aero Space Museum.
For more information, please go to www.careersinaviation.ca/expo/.