I’ll Never Stop Learning

Even though I am done with college (for now), I have not stopped learning. Whether I am learning new things in my new position or in my spare time, I believe in order to live a full life one must strive to continuously expand their horizons.

In my new role as an operations analyst, I have learned a lot about cost basis and book keeping practices for financial firms. I have also learned about back office procedures for a financial firm and best practices to ensure accuracy of financial records. Financial markets are more complex and more fascinating than I had ever imagined.  I have a lot more to learn, but I find the journey exciting.

Recently, I helped a non-profit organization write a grant application. I learned about how best to word a grant request. I have written and pitched a business plan before and found that experience to be very similar to applying for a grant. I look forward to continue my volunteer work and learn more about how non-profits raise funds.

I have also been trying to learn to animate and use various software. I am currently working my way through a drawing course on Udemy, as well as learning how to use Adobe Animate. I created a simple movie today.

 

Are you trying to learn a new skill? Tell me about it in the comments.

My Flight Attendant Years

In 2008 I accepted a job working as a flight attendant for Colgan Air. I had been trying to get an airline job for a couple of years. I had previously been applying exclusively to legacy carriers based out of my local airport. I had just attended an airline trade school as a last resort to make this dream become a reality. Once I commit to a goal, I will achieve it eventually.

I attended flight attendant training in Albany, New York. I had to study my flight attendant manual, emergency procedures, federal aviation regulations, and airline operations. After several weeks of classes and successfully completing emergency drills, I got my wings.

I ended up being based out of Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) .  I had actually made EWR my first choice, as it was a hub and I figured it would be easier to travel on my days off from a hub than from an out station. Prior to relocating to New Jersey, I had been living in Athens, Georgia. I had moved up from Florida before that. I’m always up to relocating for the right opportunity. That being said, the largest city I had ever lived near before moving to Newark was Columbus, Ohio. It was a certainly a new experience living in such a crowded city. I adjusted over time. Eventually I felt at home enough to start taking the train in to NYC and wander around.

During my time as a flight attendant, I had several challenging work days. I had several medical emergencies. I had to deal with maintenance and weather delays. I had to handle passenger complaints and utilize diplomacy when flight crew members didn’t always get along. The days were long, but it’s still one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had.

I frequently worked on our flagship. One of the Dash-8 Q400 Aircrafts was named after  Senator Charles Colgan, the founder of Colgan Air. I referred to this particular aircraft as “Bad Luck Chuck”. According to galley gossip, the Aircraft had been struck by lighting more than any other Q400 in the fleet.  The nose cone of the aircraft had a number of chips from lightning strikes. I was present during two strikes. Believe it or not, a lightning strike is not a particularly dangerous occurrence during flight.  The aircraft has to be signed off on the ground by an aircraft mechanic, but generally the aircraft can continue flying on the same day. It can still be, understandably so, a little unsettling for the passengers. I was seated in the back of the aircraft when a loud strike to the nose caused the cabin lights to flicker. Turbulence shook the aircraft’s cabin and the overhead bins shuttered in protest. The plane went silent. I couldn’t hold it in. I chuckled, in an evil villain kind of way. The passengers looked back at me in disbelief and several of them laughed in return. I was relatively used to the summer storms. I always tried to make passengers feel safe and tried to ensure I never looked frightened.

One of the most memorable days occurred when we had an issue with the landing gear. I was on an aircraft where the the tires on the front landing gear popped during take off and we had to prep the cabin for an emergency landing. Initially the front gear wouldn’t come down. Luckily, it eventually did. The pilots did a great job of doing an easy landing. Although the aircraft’s nose gear was in no condition for us to taxi to the gate, we were not in any danger and a bus came to ferry the passengers to the terminal. During this situation and others I was able to keep a cool head. I’ve always been told I have a calm, serious demeanor. I found this quality was an asset to my duties as a flight attendant.

During the course of a person’s life it’s very likely they’ll have to step foot on an aircraft, whether they are afraid of flying or not. If a passenger didn’t tell me (frequently they did) I could always tell if they were afraid of flying. I would always kneel down to make eye contact and reassure them. I would tell them to not hesitate to press the flight attendant call button if they needed anything. I was comfortable in the air, but to those not used to it I could understand their fears. I still believe flying is the safest form of transportation.

I eventually became promoted to Check Flight Attendant. I conducted Initial Operating Experiences (IOE) for the new flight attendants. I ensured that they had properly learned everything they should of in ground school and signed them off if I was confident in their abilities after a number of flights. I also was responsible for ensuring that flight attendants were in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations and company policies. I took great pride in my work and enjoyed mentoring new flight attendants.

I enjoyed my time working for Colgan Air. The airline ultimately ceased operations due to poor financial planning and a tragic accident in 2012. I went on to work for another regional airline before leaving the friendly skies to focus on college. I improved my leadership abilities, my communication skills, and became much more self reliant. I often recommend that people who do not yet know what they wish to do for a living should consider becoming a flight attendant. It’s a really great transitional role. I had the opportunity to meet lots of different people and visit lots of new places. I even was able to travel on my days off. I once took a solo trip to Japan for a week. It was during my time as a flight attendant that I wrote my first business plan and decided to go to college.

Could your company benefit from hiring a travel expert ,who can remain calm while flying through thunderclouds? Contact me on the contact page and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Lessons I Learned at Starbucks

I worked at Starbucks for a relatively long time. What can I say? I need coffee to live and it was a great place to work while I was in school. During my time there, I experienced a lot of personal and professional growth. These are my biggest takeaways:

Anticipate your customer’s needs and then exceed them.

Just by doing small extra things for a customer, you can create a memorable experience. I found that customers became friends through small acts. This connection didn’t just create repeat customers. It created a sense of community.

Don’t ask anyone to do anything you would not be willing to do yourself.

I was familiar with the concept of servant leadership. However, working as a leader behind the line with my baristas really helped make this my favorite leadership style. I found that by saving at least one of the more laborious or detailed tasks for myself I was able to gain and keep the respect of those I supervised. I also began to immediately touch base with everyone on my shift. Whenever they leave I think of one accomplishment I can thank them for.I also had a far better idea of the challenges and opportunities for our business due to a better understanding of the roles of those I was responsible for.

Always continue to develop your knowledge beyond your initial training.

I became known as the coffee and company history expert. I achieved this feat by reading several related books and completing an optional training to become a Starbucks Coffee Master. I found that the outcome , my reputation at Starbucks, far exceeded my effort. A little bit of ambition goes a long way.

Never compromise your principals in the pursuit of profit.

Howard Schultz has said in the past that success is meaningless if you “arrive at the finish line alone.” It’s better to find yourself surrounded by winners at the finish line. At Starbucks the winners aren’t just the shareholders, but also coffee growers, partners (employees), and social/environmental causes.

I learned that it is important to not become shortsighted. Doing the right might not always lead to better quarterly earnings. However some business leadership understand that building a legacy leads to larger profits over time.

Do you think my experiences would make my a valuable asset to your team? Reach out to me on the contact page or through LinkedIn.

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