In 2018, United Airline and the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) sought out NOVA students to participate in United Airlines’ internship program – United Summer Associates (USA). Tania Shaffi, the program coordinator, said “we were grateful to collaborate with Northern Virginia Community College as we had a great group of enthusiastic students,” prompting United to extend the partnership for the 2019 USA Program. After four NOVA students participated in 2018, United recruited 14 NOVA students for its 2019 program.
Student interns were not necessarily interested in the aviation industry but gained insight into the field and learned valuable personal and professional skills that apply to all workplaces. Kanthi Allamsetty A.S., Computer Science graduate, found that the “United Summer Associates program was a really amazing opportunity for students who want to seek experience in different fields. I had an opportunity to learn many new skills from this internship. Even though many people think that this internship is customer service, there is a lot more to it than that.”
“It was so interesting to learn about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running a successful airline,” and throughout the internship, Tulane Simpson learned the importance of teamwork and efficiency. “I made many new connections with both my supervisors and my fellow interns.” Interns had access to all functional areas of Dulles International Airport and got a true insider’s experience including customer service, safety and security, baggage processing, back-office finance and administration, technical operations, and flight operations. Mark Namoco, a NOVA graduate in Business Administration, said “it was a great feeling working with leaders working in the IAD Hub. I worked with supervisors and managers, and they were helpful with guiding and assisting us daily.” He had not considered the airline industry as a career of choice, but this opportunity has influenced him to seek out jobs here after completing his education.
United offers the Summer Associate programs at several other airports across the country and pays the interns for a 40-hour workweek during June and July. NOVA, United Airlines, and WMATA expect to continue to work together again next year to provide more students access to these internships and learning opportunities.