First published by PLU University Communications
Seattle – Career Connections hosted its first On-The-Road Experience for students Feb. 22. Students had the choice of touring Alaska Airlines or World Vision. Afterward, all students were invited to attend an alumni-networking event.
Three vanloads of students toured Alaska Airlines in Seattle where they were greeted by two alumni, including CEO, Brad Tilden ’83. When Tilden entered the lobby, he greeted all of his employees by name. Tilden, who lived in Pflueger, Hinderlie and Tinglestad, said he received a fantastic education at Pacific Lutheran University and loved its approach on vocation and education.
Vocation was exactly the reason Phil McKinney’ 13, psychology major, went to Alaska Airlines.
“I’m looking for a direction to take when I look for a job,” McKinney said.
Like McKinney, nearly every other student at this event was a senior looking for his or her next step in life.
Tilden promised that PLU prepares its students for this step. Don’t expect to be the CEO of a company coming out of college, he said, but PLU students are prepped to take the next step. “Then, you will put your education to work.”
Career Connections at PLU decided to take the students on the road for these unique experiences. The purpose of touring Alaska Airlines and World Vision was “to expose students to different career opportunities and paths,” said Bobbi Hughes, executive director of Career Connections.
“This was very successful in terms of interest,” Hughes said. “I would anticipate more of these in the future.”
More students were interested in participating in this off-campus event than Career Connections could accommodate.
The students learned that at Alaska Airlines, there are many job opportunities in many different fields, including human resources, computer science, marketing, and communication.
Gary Peterson, maintenance supervisor, led the students on a tour of the Alaska Airlines hangar. Students explored the ins and outs of a plane. They sat in the cockpit, looked in the engines and checked out the area where animals are kept during flight.
Peterson then led the students to various other rooms and workshops, telling some humorous tales about Alaska Airlines.
“As far as I know, we are the only airline to report a fish in the engine,” Peterson said. He explained that a bald eagle dropped a fish in the engine while escaping its death.
When the tour was over, Keith Dussell, who works in diversity and inclusion and PLU alumnus, told the students about internship opportunities at Alaska Airlines.
These internships are offered in a varied in fields. The benefits that go along with these internships were one of Dussell’s selling points. He told the group about a trip he took to Europe and back that cost just over $200. The other selling point was the people who work there. In front of the students, Tilden asked several employees why they like working there, and most of them said, “The people.”
Alaska Airlines offers 38 internships this summer and is accepting applications online during the first few weeks of March, depending on each position.
Being a Lute can have its advantages – Dussell gave every student his business card.
“Those people at University of Puget Sound didn’t even get my business card,” Dussell joked. “We hardly let them in the front door.”