Brian Jeng – Alaska Airlines

unnamed-3 I have always had an innate curiosity of learning about the many factors that make an airline run and how they work together to make a company successful. I was an intern in the Marketing Programs & Events department in summer of 2013 and actually worked there again the following summer in 2014. My department was in charge of employee events, such as corporate picnics, large-scale employee meetings, community involvement, and the administration of programs that make Alaska Airlines a great place to work. One unique aspect of my internship was the fact that though most of our events typically took place in the Seattle-area, Alaska’s network is large and we had the opportunity to organize events in Anchorage, Los Angeles, Portland, and other outstations where we have a large presence.

Another huge opportunity in my position was the ability to take on large responsibilities and individual projects, and manage them from start to finish. I handled everything from vendor agreements, contracts, budgeting and reconciliation, to corporate sponsorships, community engagement, and organizing volunteer commitments for executive level employees. My job required a huge attention to detail and making sure we were delivering 100%, all the time. One of my favorite (and hardest to pull off) events is the Alaska Airlines Torchlight Parade and Spectacular, in conjunction with SEAFAIR. The amount of coordination and planning it took to make something like that work is insane, but the folks at Alaska know how to get it done. I was lucky in my internship to be placed in a department that had a large amount of work, and while it was definitely challenging at times, I was able to learn and grow my abilities infinitely, even though I was a Finance major in a marketing-focused internship.

The airline industry is tumultuous and competitive, but the advantage is that the opportunities to learn are endless. The industry is very cyclical, and often comes under a lot of scrutiny. Having said that, the employees at Alaska (who have managed to succeed, independent of any mergers, acquisitions, or buyouts!), are humble, hard working, and above all, extremely passionate about their work, their customers and the industry. No matter who you are, people have time to listen to you, hear your story, help you out—at the end of the day, everyone needs each other to make those planes take off.

Interns even get to experience what it’s like to fly “non-rev,” or on a standby basis, meaning you don’t have a ticket until 10 minutes before departure and only if there are open seats.  That opens the world up to possibilities. Other interns and I did weekend trips to just about anywhere you could imagine—Hawaii, Colorado, Texas, New York. This is a wonderful perk that adds value to your time at Alaska and provides yet another learning opportunity.

I wouldn’t trade my time at Alaska for anything and would go back in a heartbeat—the things I learned about the company, the industry, and the operations definitely made me appreciate the entire travel experience. I have a greater understanding of how much work it is, as well as how many people it takes, to get a single passenger from point A to B. I guarantee you—the moment you step onto an Alaska plane, walk into an Alaska office, or interact with an Alaska employee, you’ll experience the “Alaska Spirit” that embodies how much the company goes above and beyond.