Published on January 31st, 2017 | by Danika Thiele0
Southwest Airlines internship takes flight
Skirting past the DART train’s closing doors, Southwest intern Brianna Juda swiftly sits in one of the small, unkempt seats that summate “public transportation.” She has just finished her first week of work at Southwest Airlines at their headquarters in Dallas. She stretches her legs out into the train’s aisle seat and relaxes, finally able to rest on the ride home.
It’s been a long day.
Though the internship is extremely competitive with more than 10,000 applicants and only 132 available jobs, this is Brianna’s second time interning with the major U.S. airline as their visual communications intern. The summer before, she spent her days designing flyers, pamphlets and promotional materials for the company.
“Other jobs I’ve had, obviously they’re excited to have you, but at Southwest they take note to add you to their company,” Brianna said. “They want you to be a part of it and a part of the community. It makes it easier to adjust from the transition from school to an internship because you don’t know what to expect, but they treat you like family so you’re comfortable. To have that reassuring safety net when you first come in the door makes a big difference.”
Her Southwest internship is vastly different from anything Brianna had experienced before, as it requires countless hours behind a computer monitor. The job spans from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. with an hour-long break for lunch. She works in the Communications Department, located on the second floor of headquarters, alongside media specialists, advertising gurus and other creatives.
“It was hard to get used to at first just because you’re stuck in one place and doing one thing,” Brianna said. “In college everything is so different. Office life is really monotonous, but you can really focus on what you’re doing. Since I do design work, I can put a lot of effort into my designs. When you’re in college, you do so much and spread yourself so thin. An office job helped me settle down and really focus in-depth on my work and on myself.”
The first day of her internship, Brianna and the other 131 interns went through a day-long orientation process that included two Chick-fil-A meals, a tour of the company’s headquarters, an introduction to the Visual Communications team and the company’s weekly “deck party” complete with free beer, wine and a DJ.
This, Brianna tells me, is just a part of the daily culture of Southwest. The company is fueled almost entirely by “LUV,” the abbreviation for Dallas Love Field Airport and the symbolic heart of the company. With a core value of “Fun-LUVing Attitude,” the company’s employees are encouraged to “not take themselves so seriously.”
All-inclusive staff parties on Monday, themed conference rooms and superior staff recognition make the company #13 of the 500 company on Forbes’ List of Best Employers for 2016.
Southwest’s internship program has also been named “#3 Best College Internship Programs” by Campus Grotto in 2016, “Top 10 Communications Internships” by The Vault in 2014 and “Top 6 Internship Perks” by hercampus.com in 2013.
“It’s an awesome experience for students,” Manager of Communications and Collaboration Mandy Mcbride said. “The internship shows students how the airline works, and they get to work an entire work day. There’s also lots of perks to being a Southwest employee.”
Interns have the opportunity to spend weekends traveling to any of the airline’s domestic locations from Phoenix to Philadelphia. Exploring as much of the country is one of their biggest perks complimentary with the internship, like peanuts and a drink served at 39,000 feet.
Bri’s advice to students interested in Southwest?
“Never miss an opportunity. If you think you won’t get the job, just apply anyway. If you aren’t sure you’re qualified, apply anyway. If you want something, work your hardest to get it and you’ll succeed eventually. There’s no one telling you that you have to get a big internship, but if you know a company that does what you’re passionate about, then chase after them. I never thought I would work for an airline, or that I’d ever really like it. But I love what I do now, and I encourage you to just pursue your dreams even if you think you don’t have a chance.”
To learn more about Southwest Airlines internships: