My own experience #08: My first job in Aviation

After Ruben and I passed our MCC exam, we officially finished the integrated ATPL course. I moved back to Holland and received my licence. It felt very strange to be back in Holland, I missed Spain a lot. A month later, on 10 December 2013, I was very happy to go back to Madrid for a few days: I was going to receive my pilot wings!

Every year, the flight school organised a wing ceremony, where all graduated pilots of that year received their very own pilot wings and all family and friends were invited to attend this celebration. After speeches of the head of training and the school director, we were all invited one by one to come up to the stage and receive a certificate and our wings. Afterwards, there were snacks and drinks in the hangar and we got to show the school to our relatives.

The celebration lasted the whole day and in the evening we moved to the city center to have dinner with everybody. It was such a happy day, I was back in Madrid where I had created so many amazing memories. I was back together with all my friends from flight school and with my sister and parents, proud of what I had achieved in the last two years and I was ready to move forward: to continue my journey of becoming a pilot.

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Back in Holland, I prepared my CV and wrote a cover letter. A standard one, that I would adjust for every airline based on their field of operation. I was ready to take any pilot job, anywhere in the world. It was a very difficult time in aviation, due to the recent economical crisis, which ended up with too many graduated pilots, but too few pilot jobs available. In a few months time, I sent my CV to about 100 airlines all over the world, but I got response from only 5 airlines – telling me that I did not meet their entry requirements.

In the meantime, I had to look for any other job to make money, after all I had finished flight school and had no income. I knew that the pilot job process was going to take a long time and therefore I had to make sure to find a temporary job to earn money. Soon I was called for a job interview as a Data Entry Specialist for an Aviation Software company at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. I went there on a Monday morning. Immediately after the short interview, apparently they found me suitable, the manager asked me if I liked to be introduced to my new colleagues and after a quick tour through the building, he asked me if I had anything else to do that day and if I liked to start working immediately. I had no other plans, so I was given a chair, a desk and a computer and one of my new colleagues explained what I was supposed to do.

It all went so fast, I hadn’t even told my mother that I was going for a job interview, but at lunchtime I called her and said: I have a new job, and today is my first working day! She was just as surprised as I was. I was very lucky to be hired so quickly and I really loved the job. I was hired for a merger project, one leasing company had acquired another company, so their fleet of 1000 airplanes had to be inserted into the database. All legal, contractual, financial and technical data of each aircraft had to be investigated and inserted into the database. I learned a lot whilst working there, about Aviation but also about myself. It was for me the first time to find myself working in an office, which I never thought I would like, but I truly enjoyed it. Soon I got the hang of it and I proceeded quick but accurately. After a few months, my manager noticed how well I was going and decided to give me more tasks, such as checking the work of my colleagues, training new people and managing the workload whilst facing deadlines. I was happy with the freedom I got and with the fact that they let me manage and enhance the team performance. Every day I went to work feeling happy and the time went so fast, it was a clear sign that I loved working there.

But I was still applying for jobs as a pilot. That was after all my real passion and what I really wanted to do. When I realised that applying through the normal way did not work, I needed to find other ways to get into an airline. I started to network. I wanted to get to know people in Aviation, because I would just need one certain connection that could make the difference. I updated my Linked In profile and contacted (randomly) people in airlines. I sent them a polite e-mail telling my story and sending my CV. I went to the local aero club to fly once in a while and also there I was happy to meet new people.

Opposite my work there was a simulator company with a B737 and I knew a friend who was working there, sometimes we would do a simulator session after working hours. It was really important to keep my skills and knowledge up to date, because if I would get a call for an interview, I would have to be ready for it. And that call arrived soon.

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